Pace, power and spin ... Is this the Proteas’ biggest chance for World Cup glory?

Heinrich Klaasen and Aiden Markram have been key players for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League. Picture: Noah Seelam / AFP

Heinrich Klaasen and Aiden Markram have been key players for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League. Picture: Noah Seelam / AFP

Published Apr 28, 2024


It’s been almost five months of non-stop T20 cricket that will eventually culminate with the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the United States.

To be honest, it’s been overkill. After a two-Test series against India that had everything from top batting to lethal bowling, and one of the shortest Test matches of all time, the shortest format of the game has been shoved down our throats.

It all started with the SA20 League way back in the second week of January, through to the Indian Premier League (IPL) and CSA T20 Challenge on home soil.

If I’m fatigued, what about the poor players, especially the cream of the crop?

The SA20 had a brutal schedule, as they squeezed in the tournament into just over a month. The IPL is probably even more demanding with the travelling being a lot tougher in terms of the distances players have to cover, and obviously the spotlight is a lot brighter.

But what these last four months have shown us is that the Proteas will be able to field a very strong team, who could possibly go all the way at the World Cup and actually win it.

The Proteas have very good players who may even miss out on a place in the squad. The T20 depth is suddenly very, very deep.

A player like Rassie van der Dussen, who just the other night guided the Lions to a semi-final victory over the Titans with a blistering half-century could miss out on squad selection, along with fellow Joburg stars swashbuckling opener Ryan Rickelton and gun left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin.

The Titans’ Lungi Ngidi, who had to skip the IPL because of injury, is suddenly also not a sure thing despite being a mainstay in the Proteas white-ball sides over the last couple of years.

Then you have players who put their names in the hat with terrific performances in the SA20, such as batters Matthew Breetzke and Kyle Verreynne, while Otneil Baartman was sensational with the ball.

Speed merchant Anrich Nortje would normally be one of the first names on the Proteas’ list, but looks really rusty after only recently coming back in the IPL after a long injury layoff that also kept him out of the 50-over World Cup in India last year.

The Proteas have pretty much all bases covered, and there is a feeling that they could mount a serious challenge.

— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 24, 2024

Batting has all the power ...

The Proteas have one of the most brutal batting line-ups, with power and six-hitters all the way down the order.

South Africa currently possesses one of the most destructive batsmen in the world in Heinrich Klaasen, who has taken his game to another level over the last few years.

He was a key man in the World Cup in India, with his ability to take the game away from the opposition with his six-hitting ability. He has also been disrespecting bowlers in the SA20 and IPL, regularly going at strike-rates of over 200.

Then you have world-class performers such as Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock and David Miller to go with the class of Reeza Hendricks and power of Tristan Stubbs. That, right there, is a potent top six.

Plenty of pace and X-factor in the bowling

In Nortje, Gerald Coetzee and Kagiso Rabada, the Proteas have bowlers who can crank it up. Genuine pace and aggression are essential elements of a T20 pace attack. Wickets in the power play, more often than not, win you games in the shortest format.

But the Proteas also have the swing and guile of all-rounder Marco Jansen and Ngidi, who has one of the best slower balls in the world.

Baartman showed that he can be a handful with the ball at the start of an innings, as well as the death. He is arguably South Africa’s best bowler at the back-end, as he landed his yorkers with regular accuracy during the SA20 against some of the best players in the world.

Proteas have the spin variety on West Indian conditions

Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi are world-class operators who could be both dynamic and stingy.

Shamsi is a wicket-taker in the middle-overs with his variety of left-arm wrist-spin. When South Africa needs something to happen, the wizard can provide that spark.

Maharaj, though, can bowl be an asset in the power play as well, especially against destructive- right-handed openers. But he is definitely a wicket-taking option as well.

Mental challenge

But the Proteas have gone to World Cups before with gun teams. So, normally, for them it’s about getting the mind right.

The Proteas love to play an attacking brand of cricket and they need to believe in that philosophy, even in the tough, pressure moments.

They do it on a regular basis in the IPL and SA20 stages against the world’s best, so why not at the World Cup?

This is the Proteas’ best chance to win a World Cup in terms of personnel. Hopefully they grab this opportunity with both hands.


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