ODI World Cup 2023: South Africa performance review

Nov 27, 2023

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South Africa. (Photo Source: X(Twitter)

South Africa had everything they needed to win the 2023 ODI World Cup. They were incredible towards the start of the tournament and finished second on the points table after winning seven out of nine matches in the group stage. They were decimating opponents with the bat and were expected to make it to the final if not win it but one bad day ruined another opportunity for them to win the tournament.

In the semi-finals, South Africa faced the challenge of Australia, who once again emerged as the winners. Winning the toss in an overcast day, the Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma decided to bat first in Eden Gardens and that came as a boomerang as the Aussie pacers dominated to bundle out South Africa for just 212. The bowling unit gave their all but could not help the team cross the line in the semi-final.

So, where did it go wrong? Bavuma’s captaincy skill was under the scanner as the 33-year-old faced criticism after South Africa were eliminated. The opener, meanwhile, clarified that people voicing their opinion on his captaincy do not bother him as he believes he has done well as a captain even if he failed as with the bat.

Notably, South Africa missed the services of Anrich Nortje in the tournament, who has a lot of experience in playing in Indian conditions. However,  two hours of bad cricket in the semi-final sealed their fate in the tournament. Players like Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Heinrich Klaasen and Rassie van der Dussen among a few others gave their all in the tournament but yet another generation of South African cricket passed without a World Cup trophy.

The good, bad and not so pretty

There were plenty of positives for South Africa in the tournament. Having announced his retirement from ODI cricket after the tournament, Quinton de Kock had a sensational time, scoring 594 runs in 10 matches. He finished as the third-leading run-scorer of the tournament, just behind Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. The stumper-batter managed to give a good start in the majority of the matches and courtesy of the same, South Africa dominated with the bat in the initial phase of the tournament.

Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen gave stability in the middle order. In the first half, Klaasen took care of business as the 32-year-old hit a century against England, followed by 90 runs against Bangladesh. When his form dried up, van der Dussen took over as the 34-year-old has 448 runs to his name in 10 matches. Aiden Markram, meanwhile, delivered when it mattered as he has scored 406 runs in 10 matches.

Meanwhile, the form of Bavuma bothered the team and he never looked in rhythm. Despite not being fit for the semi-final, he decided to back himself, which probably wasn’t the right call. Reeza Henricks was available for selection and was in good form too, as he hit 85 against England earlier in the tournament. However, the skipper decided to play and failed to open his tally in the crucial game as Mitchell Starc picked up his wicket.

David Miller’s form too was under scrutiny for the longest time but the southpaw rose to the occasion in the semi-final as he hit 101 runs under pressure. However, he got very little support from his teammates as South Africa lost the match by three wickets. Speaking about the bowlers, they did a pretty decent job, especially Gerald Coetzee and Marco Jansen.

The moments that mattered

Heinrich Klassen’s century against England showed the brand of cricket that the team wants to play. He ended up scoring 109 runs in just 67 deliveries as South Africa posted a massive total of 399 runs. They were ruthless with the bat and the bowlers resonated the same energy as England were bundled out for just 170. South Africa managed to win the match by 229 runs and sent a message to all the competitors in the tournament. 

However, the moment that the players won’t be able to forget in the first 15 overs against Australia in the semi-final. The batters have dominated the tournament and South Africa seemed to be the favourites when they won the toss and elected to bat first but Australian pacers thrashed them, picking up four wickets in 12 overs. The Temba Bavuma-led side was reduced to 24/4 and that decided the fate of the game. 

Remember the names

Quinton de Kock delivered big time in the ODI World Cup 2023. With Bavuma not in form, the 30-year-old had the responsibility to give a good start to the Proteas and he managed to do so rather consistently. He gave his all but failed to clinch the title. Despite that, history will remember de Kock for his performance in the tournament. Further, Gerald Coetzee and Marco Jansen proved to be a match-winners for South Africa. In the absence of Nortje, they needed someone to get the job done and these two pacers have done a remarkable job in his absence.

Future fermentation

Changes are expected in the South African squad. Bavuma’s leadership is under scrutiny while de Kock announced his ODI retirement. Rassie van der Dussen too is not getting any younger and the management might have to think about their top order in the coming times. Players like Dewald Brevis, Tristan Stubbs and Donovan Ferreira among a few others are likely to be introduced soon for them to get ready for the ODI World Cup 2027 if not Champions Trophy 2025.

Coming of age

Jansen and Coetzee are the future stars of South African cricket. Both these cricketers showed their class in tournament and with the ODI World Cup 2027 set to take place in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, these players will look to make the most of the home conditions.. They have a good squad in the making but consistency will be important. 

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