Fast bowler Dale Steyn is confident South Africa will defy historical expectations at the World Cup in the United Kingdom later this year.
Often tipped among the favourites, the Proteas have traditionally failed at the global showpiece. They have never reached a final amid a string of semi-final defeats.
‘We’re going with good expectations. If you’re not going to the World Cup expecting to win, then you probably shouldn’t go. But I’m not going to lie, we have some fantastic players,’ said Steyn.
‘I don’t think South Africa have lost an ODI series in two-and-a-half years, but no-one gives us a chance, and then somebody does.
‘You just need to go there, figure out which teams are best adapting to the conditions, and then the team that hits the ground running first has the best chance.’
The Proteas’ 15-man squad for the World Cup will be named on Thursday – and will likely feature Steyn, wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, leg-spinner Imran Tahir and others.
‘We’re led by Faf du Plessis, who’s been in fantastic form lately. And in the Indian Premier League, Imran Tahir has been right up there in terms of wickets,’ added Steyn.
‘From Quinton, all the way down to number 11 they’re all match-winners. We just need to go there and hope a bit of luck – weather, a missed no-ball – goes your way, and you could win the tournament.
“You look at Rabada, he’s been bowling exceptionally well. Kagiso is a wunderkind. Just hope he continues that kind of form. He’s come on to the scene in international cricket and grabbed the opportunity with both hands.’
England are the tournament co-hosts alongside Wales – and currently occupy first position in the International Cricket Council’s rankings for ODI teams. India, New Zealand and South Africa are second, third and fourth respectively.
Steyn also stressed that ODI rankings have little value once the World Cup begins. His belief is that only those who adapt earliest to the conditions in England will win the trophy.
‘I think every team going to the World Cup has a massive chance. England are playing in England, and they’re playing some good white-ball cricket,’ concluded Steyn.
‘But I think you really need to take rankings and throw it out of the window. Rankings these days don’t mean anything. I don’t even know what ranking West Indies have, and they just beat England. Australia were losing, and then they’ve started winning again.’
England and the Proteas will open the World Cup at The Oval in London on 30 May.
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