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Ken Borland

SA forever making a mess of 50-over World Cup campaigns

Posted on December 29, 2022 by Ken

South Africa are forever making a mess of their 50-over Cricket World Cup campaigns, but they have decided to shake things up a bit for the 2023 event by putting themselves under extra pressure just to qualify.

But scarred and cynical Proteas fans can relax just a little because the situation is not as bad as has been depicted by some pundits on TV and elsewhere.

Yes, the Proteas are currently in a lowly 11th place in the Super League qualifying standings. And given that South Africa have controversially conceded their three scheduled Super League ODIs in Australia in January to instead focus on the new SA20, they have five matches left in which to sneak into the top-eight. Those games are all at home – three against England and two versus the Netherlands. The Proteas already started playing the Netherlands last November, with the first ODI rained out and the next two postponed until next year due to Covid.

West Indies are occupying eighth spot at the moment, on 88 points, but they have completed their roster of 24 matches. South Africa are on 59 points, and with 10 points being awarded for each win, they are three victories away from overhauling the West Indies.

But Sri Lanka and Ireland stand between the Proteas and the West Indies and are also still in the running to finish in the top-eight.

Ireland are on 68 points and have three games left, hosting against Bangladesh next May, so if they sweep that series then they can reach 98 points. In that case, South Africa will need to win four of their last five games to get past them.

Sri Lanka, on 62 points, have six fixtures remaining – three in New Zealand and three at home against Afghanistan. Basically, however many wins they get, South Africa will need one more.

If they fail to finish in the top-eight, then the Proteas will head off to Zimbabwe next June for the final qualifier, the bottom five teams in the Super League joining five other sides, and the top two qualifying for the World Cup.

“It’s not ideal,” outgoing coach Mark Boucher admitted, “but we haven’t always had continuity in the ODI team, what with players going to the IPL and Covid, and that has caused inconsistency.

“But we know what is required against England and the Netherlands next year, and if we don’t make it then we just have to accept that we have to go to the qualifier and man up there.”

The Proteas are now leaving India for another World Cup – the T20 version in Australia. It is a long time and there will be much cricket played before they see ODI action again, and perhaps the mood around the team will be very different, hopefully triumphant.

What is sure though, is that there will be outrage if they don’t find their way back to the sandy pitches of India in a year’s time for the 50-over World Cup.

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