Another World Cup year, and yes… another disappointing Protea’s campaign that ends in failure. How did we get it wrong this time?
The Protea fans that I feel most sorry for is the young ones. The young boys and girls that are just starting to follow their hero’s and are all excited to watch their team take on the world. They are the fans that are going to have to endure this pain for many, many, MANY more years. Us old folk are fine, we’ve become totally numb when it comes to Protea’s. This year was the sixth World T20 tournament, and the Protea’s haven’t made it out of the group stages on four occasions, and have never made the final. So where did we lose it?
Look, I thought the squad selection was OK, but just OK. I reckon any one of us could have written 15 names down on a list before the squad was announced and more than likely, we would have got 14 or 15 correct. We didn’t throw in an X-factor player, with something a little different, or a player that other countries may not of heard of. Someone, maybe, like Tabraiz Shamsi. Maybe taking an extra experienced T20 player could have helped too, a player who suits the conditions, like Albie Morkel. He’s great at bowling cutters and has played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Delhi Daredevils, so knows the conditions as well as anyone. But as expected, we went with the cautious approach when selecting. New Zealand on the other hand, selected Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner in their squad, they had ten T20 international caps between them!
This frustrated me like nothing else! Let’s stay with New Zealand for a second, they selected the above mentioned two players with minimal experience, but they came over with a squad to win the tournament, not 11 or 12 players that would play all the games and two or three drink carriers. New Zealand have been selecting their starting 11 based on the look of the pitch on the day. And that has actually meant leaving Trent Boult and Tim Southee on the bench, but so be it, their game doesn’t suit the wickets. I’m convinced Russel Domingo selects his side on the bus en route to the ground. Sodhi and Santner have played every game so far for NZ, because they’ve being playing on turning wickets, they’ve taken eight and nine wickets respectively in their four games. Brilliant.
South Africa failed to adapt to any situation. Against England, we piled on the runs, scoring 229 – Then failed to learn from England’s mistakes. We bowled short, we bowled wides and we failed to bowl any Yorkers.
Against the West Indies, we struggled to score a run against Dwayne Bravo, because 80% of his deliveries were cutters and slower balls. It worked beautifully. So what did we do? We came out and tried to bowl as quickly as possible. Rabada was going for over 10 an over, Morris was going for 8, whilst the bowlers who took the pace off the ball, Wiese (4.75), Phangiso (4.75) and Tahir (3.25) went for minimal runs. If we had anything remotely like a “out the box thinking” type of captain or coach, I bet we would have seen Rilee or even AB given an over or two. Something different, something slow. But Faf stuck with Plan A. Kane Williamson would not have bowled out Rabada and Morris, that I can guarantee!
I don’t need to spend much time on this. It’s been happening for 25 years now. The Protea’s can just not handle the pressure of a big match. They don’t have Big Match Temperament. Simple as that! During the West Indies game, we started badly because there was the pressure of the big game, we tanked it, then the Windies were dominating us and were cruising to victory – meaning the pressure was off us, all of a sudden we played brilliantly and were right back in the game. We got to a point where the West Indies needed 20 off the final two overs, we bowling to the tail end and were once again favourites. Pressure back on…. we lose. That West Indies game sums up the Protea’s last 25 years of World Cups.