Faf Du Plessis (C), Hashim Amla, Quinton De Kock, JP Duminy, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pertorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir and Rassie Van Der Dussen. These are the men entrusted by the selectors, the captain and Otis Gibson to bring how South Africa’s first ever world cup trophy and now it’s time for my 5c on the squad.
So let’s start with the positives. Faf is the biggest player in this squad for me, he has proven he’s the man for any occasion he then surely has to bat at no. 3 or 4 for the proteas. I think those positions are the most important especially in the SA team. If we start well he has the ability to come in and continue the run rate or he has the ability to come in and accelerate from almost ball 1. He is also the man you want in a crisis, like a 2 wickets down for 2 runs situation, where he would come in and steady the ship. His leadership qualities are there for everyone to see as he is a leader by example and is also extremely vocal on the field as well. Faf is in good form as the tournament draws ever nearer and he will think he has the squad to battle the best and come out on top. One thing I can guarantee is that with Faf at the helm the squad will not die wondering at will nor lack effort.
Another positive is the form of most of our top order batsmen, Quinton, Markram, JP, Faf, Rassie, Phehlukwayo are all in decent form heading into the all-important tournament and SA will hope they have all bases covered with a mix of youth and experience, conservative and flair players. You have guys there like Quinton up front who can take the game away from you from ball one and then in the middle lower order you have Andile, Dave Miller and JP who provide finishing skill that are up there with the best of them and with our tale order batsmen able to hold a bat you can expect the tail to wag more often than not if they are needed to.
Our bowling attack is one more thing to look forward to. With enough pace in it to scare any batting line up into submission and also enough skill and guile to prize out the most difficult of batters this bowling attack has it all from a fantastic opening pair in Dale and Rabada to Andile in the middle overs able to 1. Keep the rate down and 2. Pick up important wickets. The key however is, surprisingly for a South African side the spin bowling of Imran Tahir. Tahir has proven to be a potent weapon for Faf where ever he bowls. He can bowl up top in the power play overs as well as in the middle period and is actually a very good option in the death overs with the pace he bowls at and his variations he will be a tough customer to get away.
So overall South Africa has a lot of positives about their squad but I’m not here to just tell you how good we are, I also have to look at the areas I believe we are vulnerable. The fitness of our opening bowlers is a worry with both Rabada and Steyn coming home from the IPL with injuries. We have to wonder if they will be able to handle the rigors of such a tough tournament. They have both however said that coming home was a precautionary measure. They assured us they will be fine for the world cup but with the amount of cricket Rabada has played and Dale’s injury record things are not looking great if those 2 are not fit for us. Also with Dwaine, Tabrais, Nortje and Ngidi being inconsistent at ODI level there is an element of risk and unpredictability about this attack that might worry Faf in the big moments.With the bat we have a few issues too; the form of Hashim Amla at the top of the order is cause for concern, as in a world cup you can’t afford to be nothing for one in every game. Having said that Amala’s experience could be invaluable and perhaps the old dog has one or two big ones in him for this his swan song in the international arena. Other issues with the bat are also SA’s ability to finish off innings. They often get themselves into great positions but are unable to press home their advantage and push the score up to what would be perceived as unobtainable. This factor combine with the form of Miller and Amla are worrying factors but the SA camp will hope they come good or the fact that many other batters are in form will cover those 2 a bit until they contribute as well.
South Africa’s chances overall I think are positive heading into this tournament. I think being more of an underdog suits Faf as he is a fighter and I notice that trait in a few of our players. They follow Faf into battle no matter what and with an unquestioned leader SA might just be able to break their duck in the tournament. I still think England, India and Australia are better placed than SA to win it all but Faf and the teams never say die attitude could prove tough to beat if we manage to put it all together at the right time.