An opening day loss to Australia prompted many back home in the Rainbow Nation to fear the worst for the Proteas at the T20 World Cup. Following the defeat, the country’s papers were soon littered with headlines accusing South Africa of being underprepared and blaming internal politics for ruining yet another World Cup campaign.
It was a merciless reaction to a match that went down to the final two balls of the game. But then again, you can’t blame South Africans for finally snapping after years of underperforming. A disastrous World Cup exit in the group stages in 2019 had led many to believe that it couldn’t get any worse at ICC events but evidently, it could.
However, that loss to Australia would be the only taste of defeat that the South Africans would experience at the T20 World Cup. It was a stirring reaction from the Proteas as they went on to win their next four games in a row, which included stopping high-flying England in a thrilling game to end the group stages.
Ultimately, it wasn’t enough as the Proteas went out on net run rate despite finishing tied on points with England and Australia. It was a cruel blow when you consider that South Africa more than held their own in a group of death that should never have really been drawn the way it did. The level of competition between Group 1 and Group 2 was so lopsided that the organizers of the event should hang their heads in shame, given that the best four teams of the tournaments were denied access to the semi-finals. Major upcoming changes are needed going forward if the ICC is truly serious about finding out who the best team in the world is at these international competitions.
As frustrating as the scheduling has been, it does go to show how much South Africa have improved and especially how they were able to hold their nerve despite staring down the barrel after narrowly losing their first fixture. Ask any cricket fan who has watched various World Cups over the last twenty years, and they will tell you that keeping an even temperament is not something that the Proteas are famous for when under the cosh. So, the fact they were able to operate under immense pressure speaks volumes about where this team is headed and what they could potentially achieve.
In fact, if we look ahead to the latest online cricket betting and the various sites that are offering odds and offers on the 2023 World Cup, we’ll see that the Proteas have been priced at 7.5/1 to go all the way. Those may still seem like speculative odds but it’s worth keeping in mind that before the 2021 T20 World Cup got underway, South Africa were as far out as 11/1 to win the World Cup in India in 2023. What this tells us is that the general opinion within the cricketing world is that the Proteas have indeed improved and it looks like they have turned a corner after years of being blitzed by the opposition.
So, despite missing out on the semi-finals, it does look as if the South African cricket team has once again found their identity and that discipline that has been missing. Encouragingly, this surely means that the future now bodes well for the resilient Proteas.