It’s going to take more than a big win against the West Indies to convince me that the Proteas are now the team to beat.
Just because Chris Gayle scored that blistering 215 against Zimbabwe didn’t mean that the West Indies were any different a side than they were when they were given a hiding in South Africa before going to the World Cup.
Gayle scored his runs against a Zimbabwe attack that conceded 285 against the United Arab Emirates and who have leaked 996 runs from their three matches so far, an average of 332 per innings against them and at a strike rate of more than six an over. The way Gayle came out and batted against South Africa showed the difference between the two sets of attacks. Against Zimbabwe there wasn’t a bowler who could test him.
The Proteas did everything right in Sydney, winning the toss and scoring over 400 and then striking early and regularly with the ball to win by 257 runs. That, for me shows the big gap that exists in ODI cricket at the moment.
There are the four top teams, in no particular order, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and India and you can maybe throw in Sri Lanka, but I think they’re a clear fifth. And then you get the other teams, who should be no match for the top four.
Everyone seems to be raving about this victory, but it needs to be put into perspective. In the series in South Africa, the Proteas batsmen weren’t short of runs, getting 361 at Centurion and 439 at the Wanderers. Everyone filled their boots.
Not to take anything away from AB de Villiers. His unbeaten 162 was an unbelievable knock, but I’ve said it before that I’d like to see other players weighing in with big tons and not leave it all to him. It’s alright getting hundreds against West Indies and Zimbabwe, but to do it against the bigger teams that I have mentioned is different.
I’m not being negative as I can only tell it is the way I see it, but I will remain unconvinced about South Africa’s chances of capturing this World Cup until we have shown our ability to chase down targets to win the big matches. We have only been asked one question in this regard, and that was against India – and we failed miserably.
Against Zimbabwe and West Indies we won the toss and batted first and went big. There was no pressure on the batsmen, even when we were four down for 80-odd against Zimbabwe. JP Duminy and David Miller both scored hundreds on that occasion, but look at the opposition and their record of having loads of runs scored against them.
Yes, we can win every toss we play and bat first and then we’ve got a major shot at winning the World Cup. So be it, but that’s unlikely to happen. At some stage we are going to have to chase down a big score again and I’d feel more comfortable if we could chase down 280, 290 when we’ve come under pressure. We couldn’t even get 200 against India under those circumstances at the MCG, which was a better batting track than the one at Sydney.
We’re unlikely to be tested again in the pool stages and we should win all our remaining matches before the quarter-finals.
The match that will answer all the questions and tell us whether the Proteas have what it takes will be when we come up against a big team and be asked to chase down a big total – one we would feel comfortable posting had we won the toss and batted first.
That’s where the pressure comes into play and so far we have an 0-1 record as far as that is concerned. Let’s see though.
I am currently in Pakistan for a bit of work, but I look forward to chatting to you after the match against Ireland.