We can blame bad World Cup performance on injuries and poor selection choices, but the truth is, they choked
When the Proteas and Pakistan meet for their seventh and sixth Cricket World Cup fixtures, respectively, this morning, it’ll be a clash of two teams whose natural games have crumbled under the strain of playing tournament cricket.
The two sides are placed eighth (South Africa) and ninth (Pakistan) on three points apiece, so adrift of semifinal places that their tournaments may well be over. With their defeat against New Zealand in the middle of the week, the Proteas underlined a campaign that has gone horribly wrong.
Lions high performance coach Geoffrey Toyana tried to wrap his head around why.
Selecting injured players, and the Indian Premier League (IPL)
Picking injured players to go to the World Cup and not recalling them earlier from the IPL were factors. I know it’s tough for the administrators to call back players from the IPL because of the money that’s involved there.
But KG [Kagiso Rabada] was over-bowled in the IPL – you could see there was something short about him. I know he came back injured, but he hasn’t been the KG that we know. Dale Steyn going to the IPL and coming back injured, our taking him to the World Cup and his coming back home is another example.
Our top six didn’t bat with any intensity or positive play at all because we picked some players who were out of form.
The guys just failed to shift through the gears and were always 30 to 40 short of where they wanted to be. We relied too much on Quinny [Quinton de Kock] and Faf [du Plessis], and Quinny hasn’t had the World Cup we expected from him.
The other thing for me is nobody has yet scored a hundred. You need one of the top four to bat through and get a big hundred.
In the game against the Kiwis, Kane Williamson got a hundred and his team went through. Guys like David Warner and Joe Root are getting hundreds, and their teams are winning.
The AB factor
You can’t overlook the AB [de Villiers] factor. The call not to pick him after he retired was a great one, but we took too long to identify someone early and give him plenty of game time to adjust to that role. Rassie [van der Dussen] did come in, but that was six months after De Villiers retired.
They should have picked someone early, given him a role and backed him in that role.
Our fielding was atrocious. This was not the South African team we know. We have been known as one of the best fielding sides in previous World Cups, but this time around, our fielding has really been below par.
BUTTERFINGERS Lungi Ngidi drops a catch off New Zealand’s Kane Williamson’s bat. Picture: Reuters / Andrew Boyers
The team just didn’t do justice to their talent.
For me, fielding is controllable and is about attitude. You can’t control the circumstances around how you bat or how you bowl, but you can control fielding.
On whether that’s the fielding coach or the players’ fault, I think the buck has to stop with the players because a coach can only do so much, but it’s the players who go on to the park.
A BRIGHT SPOT Imran Tahir has bowled well. Picture: AP Photo / Rui Vieira
There was something wrong there. I don’t know if it was a lack of confidence or the guys were in their shells, which I don’t understand because, in the series we play before tournaments like these, we are a quality side that covers all the bases.
I think there’s a mental block when it comes to tournaments like these – guys just go into their shells for some reason.
It’s a tough thing to pinpoint, but I think it’s something mental because we’re fine until we get to a World Cup, where we do something that’s out of character.
A lack of pace and penetration
I know there were injuries before and during the tournament, but we’ve lacked pace and penetration during the World Cup.
We’re known for pace, but it just hasn’t been there, and the big positive with that bowling has been Imran Tahir, who has done really well for us.
But in terms of penetration, if you don’t take wickets in that powerplay in the first 10 overs, it’s always going to be tough as you go deeper into the 50 overs.