The Champions Trophy has arrived and the Proteas are ranked number one in the world, like we usually are going into an ICC tournament – so why are we not confident about lifting the trophy?
It’s not unusual for South Africa to go into ICC tournaments ranked as the best in the world. We seem to be experts at playing our best cricket between big tournaments and it been no different in the past year. We’ve beaten the likes of West Indies, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand with relative ease, working our way to the top of the ODI perch.
Not only are the Proteas ranked number one, but Kagiso Rabada has deservedly made it to the top of the ODI bowling rankings. At the age of just 22, we have a phenomenal talent and our fast bowling future is in very safe hands. He’s the youngest bowler to get to number one since Saqlain Mushtaq in 1998. KG has overtaken Imran Tahir in the ranking, who is now number two.
In the batting department, AB De Villiers is still ranked at number one, where he’s been for a while. Quinton de Kock has moved up to number four on the rankings. Some may argue that the 24 year old is in-fact our most talented batsman and with another 10-12 years left in the game, he’ll undoubtedly break many batting and wicket-keeping records. Faf du Plessis is ranked sixth, while our bearded warrior, Hashim Amla, is tenth.
So our team in number one, our bowlers are first and second and we have four of the top ten batsmen in the world, yet I don’t have confidence in our side winning the tournament. I feel that England, at home, are the outright favourites. The Poms winning would make me so bleak. We’d never hear the end of it, but it’s highly possibly that they will lift the trophy. They have openly said they now play “fearless, aggressive cricket” and looking at their top seven – that’s exactly what they have. Roy, Hales, Root, Morgan, Stokes, Buttler and Ali are all capable of scoring 100 from 50 balls and bat any side out of the game. We have a superb top seven too, but the likes of Du Plessis and Duminy are far more cautious in their approach than their English opposition and they way we got into a winning position in the second ODI against them and then completely tanked it, will have loads of people worried. Big match temperament has always been our achilles heel in tournaments.
The sub-continent sides like Pakistan, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh will struggle with the swinging ball and green wickets, but I can’t see India struggling. The IPL has helped give the Indians so much depth due to their youngsters playing along side well established foreign players and playing on different types of wickets. They’re probably the most well-balanced side in the tournament and will be really tough to beat.
Australia and New Zealand are the two sides that are going into the tournament the same way Pakistan usually go into them. They will not be favourites but can turn up on the day and blow any side away if needed.
I can see India finishing top of our group, with us as the runners-up. In the other group, I think England will finish top and Australia to beat NZ to second place, meaning semi finals of:
ENGLAND v SOUTH AFRICA
AUSTRALIA v INDIA
Can we beat England in the semi’s and India in the Final. It would take a brave man to say yes. I hope they do though – COME ON BOYS!
Catch the Champions Trophy from 1 to 18 June.