The good‚ the bad and the ugly of SA's World Cup chances in England

24 August 2018 - 15:26 By Telford Vice
Proteas batsmen Lance Klusener, right, and Allan Donald meet at one end before the latter is run out in the World Cup semifinal against Australia at Edgbaston on June 17 1999 with the scores tied.
Proteas batsmen Lance Klusener, right, and Allan Donald meet at one end before the latter is run out in the World Cup semifinal against Australia at Edgbaston on June 17 1999 with the scores tied.
Image: REUTERS

The bad news is South Africa have won less than half the one-day internationals they have played in England‚ where next year’s World Cup will be staged.

The good news is that equation is flipped for their World Cup matches in England.

And that South Africa have first-hand knowledge of all but one of the six grounds they will play at next year.

The odd ground out is the Riverside in Chester-le-Street‚ where they will tangle with Sri Lanka on June 28 in the penultimate of their nine group games.

All told South Africa have contested 32 ODIs in England and won only 13 — their second-worst away record in the format after Sri Lanka‚ where they have won just 11 of 29 games.

But of the eight games South Africa played at the 1999 World Cup‚ also in England‚ they lost only two and won five.

No‚ the semifinal against Australia at Edgbaston‚ where South Africa have won half their eight ODIs‚ wasn’t one of those defeats. It was a lot worse than that.

“I saw some big men cry in the dressingroom that day‚ it was very sad‚” Goolam Rajah‚ the manager of that South Africa team and a host of others in his 20 years in the job‚ would say years later.

“If ever we came close to a winning a World Cup that was it; that was the best overall team.

“Getting to the semifinal‚ tying the match and still being knocked out was terrible.”

That’s right: it was tied after the most consequential runout in South Africa’s history and perhaps in that of the game itself.

Lance Klusener and Allan Donald at the same end of the pitch and looking like strangers at a bus-stop‚ and 11 whooping Aussies‚ will stain cricket-minded South Africans’ memories forever.

Faf du Plessis’s team will return to the scene of that crime against proper running between the wickets on June 19 next year to play New Zealand in their sixth game.

A week before the 1999 semifinal the Saffers also played the Kiwis at Edgbaston — and won by 74 runs.

Just as happily‚ for South Africa‚ their match against Australia next year will not be at Edgbaston but at Old Trafford‚ where they have played only three ODIs — all against England — and won two of them.

The South Africans have the same record at the Rose Bowl in Southampton‚ where they will take on India on June 5 and West Indies five days later.

They’re less successful at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff‚ where they have beaten Zimbabwe‚ lost to India‚ suffered two washouts and another tie that cost plenty.

This time the opposition were the Windies‚ and the deadlock after a day/night of drama and deluges earned South Africa a place in the in the 2013 Champions Trophy semifinals.

But that showdown was at the Oval‚ where England dismissed them for 175 and won by seven wickets in what Gary Kirsten — in his last match as South Africa’s coach — promptly branded a choke.

So skeletons might be rattling when England and South Africa meet in the opening match of the World Cup at the Oval on May 30.

The South Africans have been successful in just three of their nine ODIs at London’s more welcoming international venue.

At the other place‚ sniffy old Lord’s‚ they have had even fewer reasons to be cheerful with one victory and three losses: their worst record in ODIs in England.

And Lord’s is where the 2019 World Cup final will be played on July 14.

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