After making an extraordinary comeback in the five-match series versus Australia, South Africa will be in an upbeat mood going into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, starting October 5. The Proteas had announced their squad on September 5, with Temba Bavuma set to lead them. Eight out of 15 players in the squad will be playing in a World Cup for the first time. South Africa will be opening their World Cup campaign against Sri Lanka on October 7 in Delhi. Seeing Anrich Nortje and Sisanda Magala get ruled out hurts the depth, but it’s still a good side on paper.
South Africa’s main aim will be to remove the chokers tag this time around and show they have enough pedigree to shine on the big stage. SA have a set of solid names at their disposal and the ideal platform to express themselves. It’s a good chance for them to make it through to the semi-finals of the tournament. SA need to start well and maintain composure during their matches toward the end stage of the league games. Execution of plans to perfection will be the main target for the Bavuma-led side as things heat up.
A look at South Africa’s 15-member ICC World Cup squad
South Africa cricket team squad: Temba Bavuma (c), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Sisanda Magala, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lizaad Williams, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.
Presence of match-winners Klaasen and Miller a huge boost
For the Proteas, the presence of match-winners Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller is massive. Klaasen played one of the best ODI knocks recently versus Australia, helping SA post a mammoth score. His partnership with David Miller was the key element. Miller ended the series on a strong note with scores worth 82* and 63. Moreover, Miller knows the Indian conditions well, having played in the IPL and also with the national team. Both Klaasen and Miller are genuine power performers who can win matches on their own.
Strengths of the South Africa cricket team
SA are blessed with a powerful batting line-up. Quinton de Kock leads the unit upfront, having amassed 6176 runs at 44.75. His experience and the ability to set the platform will help the side. Reeza Hendricks is a decent option in the side. He owns an average of 28.18. He lends stability from the bench. Bavuma will open with De Kock. He averages a brilliant 54.68 average in ODI cricket and is closing in on 1500 runs.
Rassie van der Dussen, with an average over 56, is another big presence alongside Aidan Markram, who can be a plus in the middle overs. Then you have the duo of Klaasen and Miller, who can apply the finishing touches. Miller recently surpassed 4,000 ODI runs. All-rounder Marco Jansen can have a positive impact on the team.
The bowling looks strong on paper. Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, and Jansen will form the main outlook in pace. Rabada owns 144 scalps from 92 matches at 27.75. Ngidi has 78 scalps under his belt. Jansen is new to the circuit, and he owns 18 scalps, having played 14 matches. New entrant Andile Phehlukwayo has 89 scalps from 63 ODIs. Then there is Gerald Coetzee, who has impressed with 11 scalps from five games. Lizaad is another option in pace. He has 77 List-A scalps.
In spin, they have two experienced left-arm options in Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi. Both players can also be backed by the part-time presence with the ball from Markram when needed.
Weaknesses of the South Africa cricket team
South Africa’s depth in batting lacks solidity. Hendricks is yet to find his bout of consistency despite doing well in the T20 format. Notably, SA don’t have many batting options, as Hendricks is the lone player available. SA needed to include at least one or two more options, and this is an issue.
SA have gone in with six pace options, which makes it a pace-heavy side. But in India, these many pacers are actually not needed. Coetzee and Lizaad have played seven games between them and lack experience. Having Nortje and his serious pace on offer go missing serves as a big loss for the Proteas. Similarly, Mangala, who is a better option than the players who replaced the duo, will also be a miss.
SA are also one spinner short and needed to have a backup to Shamsi and Maharaj. Somehow, when you look at the squad, it lacks balance, being a pace-heavy unit. So if SA are put under pressure, it remains to be seen how they react with the bat. This isn’t a good sign, as Klaasen and Miller cannot be expected to bail the side out on a regular basis.
Author’s view: SA can push for a semi-final spot
Despite the lack of balance overall, SA still have a certain set of players whom the nation can trust to be the biggies and deliver strong performances. The bowling with the main options in place can test the best batting units. The batting with the senior figures on offer can lend their voice as well. Overall, SA will be upbeat and running, and a strong start will help them lift their confidence.
Players to watch out for
Miller is SA’s serious big match-winner. He knows the art of finishing off matches and builds partnerships with ease. He has served the role well for the Proteas and has made a similar impact for IPL heavyweights Gujarat Titans.
Rabada is SA’s main option with the ball. The fast bowler is closing in on 150 scalps and can become the ninth bowler to do so for SA. Rabada played three matches in the five-match series versus Australia earlier in September and finished with seven scalps.
South Africa Cricket Team World Cup schedule
In this 10-team tourney, all teams will play each other and the top four reach the semis. Here is South Africa’s schedule.
South Africa vs Sri Lanka, October 7 (Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi) 2:00 PM
Australia vs South Africa, October 12 (Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow) 2:00 PM
South Africa vs Netherlands, October 17 (HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala) 2:00 PM
England vs South Africa, October 21 (Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai) 2:00 PM
South Africa vs Bangladesh, October 24 (Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai) 2:00 PM
Pakistan vs South Africa, October 27 (MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai) 2:00 PM
New Zealand vs South Africa, November 1 (MCA Stadium, Pune) 2:00 PM
India vs South Africa, November 5 (Eden Gardens, Kolkata) 2:00 PM
South Africa vs Afghanistan, November 10 (Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad) 2:00 PM