Consistency will be crucial if the Proteas are going to challenge for their maiden Cricket World Cup title, captain Temba Bavuma said on Tuesday after head coach Rob Walter announced an experienced squad for the 50-over showpiece starting in India next month.
The Proteas will face all nine of the other teams in the tournament in the opening round, as they contest for four available spots in the semifinals.
And with the SA team carrying a history of shock defeats and poor luck into the tournament, Bavuma said they would need to be at their best throughout the quadrennial spectacle.
“We need to play good cricket for that five-to-seven-week period,” Bavuma said.
“The first couple of games will obviously be important in terms of us getting that momentum, but in terms of us really getting that cohesion, synergy and flow happening within our team, I believe once we are able to do that, then anything can happen for this team.
“We need to find ourselves in a space where we can play good cricket for the whole tournament.”
Relying on experience
While eight of the 15 players in the squad have not competed at a 50-over World Cup, the Proteas will have an established group of players contesting for the global title, with some younger fringe players missing out on selection, including the likes of Dewald Brevis and Trista Stubbs.
However, head coach Rob Walter felt it was better to back players who had the experience to carry them over the line in pressure situations.
Only three players – Gerald Coetzee, Marco Jansen and Sisanda Magala – have contested fewer than 20 ODI matches in their careers, and seven of the players in the group have more than 40 caps, led by senior stars David Miller (155 caps), Quinton de Kock (140) and Kagiso Rabada (89).
“Selection sometimes doesn’t happen as quickly as people want, be it players or people watching the game, and these guys (in the World Cup squad) have been playing really good cricket for South Africa, so for them to be superseded would just be unfair,” Walter said.
“I think that’s the important thing to understand about the ODI side. They’ve been playing very good cricket for a period of time now, hence the tried and trusted names that have been included.”
World Cup campaign
South Africa will open their World Cup campaign with a round robin match against Sri Lanka in Delhi on 7 October, as they target a place in the final of the tournament for the first time. The trophy contest will be played in Ahmedabad on 19 November.
The Proteas will continue their build-up to the tournament when they play the first of five ODI matches against Australia in Bloemfontein tomorrow, with the hosts looking to bounce back from a 3-0 defeat in last week’s T20 series.