27 May 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld

OPENING WIN COULD INSPIRE PROTEAS TO WORLD CUP GLORY

A surprise win over hosts England in the opening match of the Cricket World Cup at the Oval on Thursday could be the catalyst to immortality for the Proteas.

Look to the Boks for inspiration

In 1995, South Africa famously won the Rugby World Cup on home soil. It remains the greatest moment in South African sporting history, as the team’s improbable journey to global glory united the nation in fairy tale fashion.

The Springboks’ epic 15-12 victory over the All Blacks in the most famous of rugby finals at Ellis Park is the stuff of legend. What many forget, or fail to realise, is that Francois Pienaar and his team’s transcendent triumph would, in all likelihood, not have happened if not for the shock win over the much-vaunted Wallabies in the tournament opener at Newlands a month prior.

It was widely considered a foregone conclusion that Australia, the defending champions, would see off a Springbok side that due to Apartheid, had only returned from international isolation three years prior. The Wallabies were a vastly more established and experienced team than their South African counterparts, who were expected to start passionately but ultimately be outclassed.

Instead, the underdog hosts ambushed the Australians and shocked the world. The 27-18 win changed the course of history. It was not only a character-building, but in fact, a nation-building victory that put the Springboks on the road to their most significant triumph.

Favourites tag

joe root batting england cricket team

Thursday’s much-anticipating clash in cricket’s most famous cauldron is the Proteas’ opportunity to create a similar path to immortality. Faf du Plessis and his side are expected to bend the knee to the tournament favourites, who are ranked number one in the world and have the added luxury of home ground advantage.

Moreover, the English are fresh off a 4-0 ODI series thrashing of Champions Trophy holders Pakistan. The Proteas – aside from last week’s two World Cup warm-up matches, one of which rained out early on – were last in action over two months ago, when they whitewashed a poor Sri Lankan side 5-0 in South Africa. England, in addition, have been nearly unstoppable on home soil in recent years, winning their last eight ODI series since their loss to Australia back in 2015. All the pressure will, therefore, be on Eoin Morgan and his men.

The Proteas, in contrast, like the legendary Springboks of ’95, are unburdened by expectation – free from that crippling weight under which their predecessors have infamously crumbled time and time again. They’re not among the tournament favourites, and that’s a good thing, given the Proteas’ well-documented World Cup woes.

Balanced Top Order

Ottis Gibson’s squad are not the same breed of underdog as Kitch Christie’s charges were, it must be said, as they boast significantly more proven, world-class players. Du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir are all among the very best in the world.

Amla’s batting blues are a cause for concern, however, the Mighty Hash scored a welcome 65 off 61 in the 87-run win over Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Friday, his highest score since January, and an unbeaten 51 in Sunday’s washed out game against the West Indies in Bristol.

One of South Africa’s all-time greats, the 36-year-old will be determined to repay the faith Gibson has shown in selecting him ahead of Reeza Hendricks in the tournament proper and will look to cap off his incredible career by reminding all that while form is temporary, class is permanent.

The flat, dry and quick English wickets will make for a batting paradise, with scores of over 300 set to be par for the course. De Kock will be the key batsman for the Proteas up front. A phenom since bursting on to the international stage in 2012, De Kock has the natural attacking ability and mindset to punish bowlers and provide the Proteas with strong starts.

Fortunately for South Africa, the 26-year-old is in fantastic form. The left-handed run machine played a pivotal role for the Mumbai Indians in their recent triumphant IPL campaign. He was one of just five players to accumulate over 500 runs in the tournament, finishing with a terrific tally of 529, which included four-half centuries. Prior to that, in the Proteas’ aforementioned last ODI series in March, he pummelled Pakistan to no end, scoring 353 runs – which included one century and three half-centuries – en route to clinching the Player of the Series award.

Du Plessis will also be pivotal when it comes to wielding the willow (on top of his crucial captaincy role), and like vice-captain De Kock, he starred and steered his team, the Chennai Super Kings, to the IPL final. The 34-year-old long-time leader of the Proteas is a shrewd skipper and has big match temperament. The rest of the top order, of course, will also have to deliver. Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen have an opportunity to take their careers to new heights, while the multi-talented veteran JP Duminy will aim to end his on a high.

Its Miller's Time

david miller batting proteas

Much responsibility will rest on the shoulders of David Miller, the team’s big hitter down the order. One of the cleanest and most powerful strikers in the game, there’s no doubting his ability to fill the ‘Lance Klusener role’.

After all, he smashed the fastest T20I ton in history, off just 35 balls, against Bangladesh back in 2017. The 29-year-old has saved the day for South Africa on several occasions; the only criticism of his game has been a lack of consistency. The World Cup is the ultimate opportunity to prove himself as a dependable match-winner. Similarly, all-rounders Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius and Chris Morris will have to make an impact when they’re called upon during the course of the campaign.

SA quicks to set the pace

It’s no secret that the Proteas are putting all of their eggs in the bowling basket, and one could hardly hope for a more potent pace trio than Steyn, Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. A big concern, however, is the star fast bowlers’ lack of game time recently. Ngidi, who was drafted by the Chennai Super Kings, missed the IPL due to a side strain, while Rabada and Steyn – who represented the Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively – left India prematurely due to back and shoulder problems.

Steyn, simply put, is the GOAT when it comes to South African fast bowlers and is one of the best quicks to ever play the game. He missed the warm-up games and at the time of writing, the stalwart was still doubtful for the tournament opener. Rabada regularly finds himself at the top of the ICC world rankings, while Ngidi has wasted little time cementing his place among the upper echelon of international quicks. That they came through the warm-up games well is a major relief.

Leg-spin wizard Tahir is the other cornerstone of the bowling attack. At 40 years of age, he hasn’t skipped a beat and was the leading wicket-taker in the IPL. A master manipulator of the ball, his role in bogging down batsmen and striking at key moments cannot be overstated. Left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi is his deputy and has plenty of tricks in his bag as well.

The tournament opener is by no means a must-win for the Proteas. A loss would be far from the end of the world, granted they don’t get blown away. A win, however, might just spark the most glorious #ProteaFire of them all – one that majestically, and mercifully, melts away decades of heartache and one that sees the unwanted chokers tag finally go up in flames.

Simply take a bet on the Proteas in their opener against the Poms and we’ll refund your stake as a bonus should they fail to win. Why would you take a bet anywhere else?

BET: England v South Africa

View the promotion Ts and Cs here

View all our Cricket World Cup markets HERE.

If you don’t yet have a BET.co.za account, click here to join today and get a 100% deposit match on your first deposit up to R1000!

COPA AMERICA 2019 BETTING TIPS

| Features, Latest, Soccer | No Comments
Learn how to get instant deposits into your BET.co.za account with OZOW.

PSL PLAYERS AT AFCON 2019

| AFCON 2019, Features, Latest, Soccer | No Comments
Learn how to get instant deposits into your BET.co.za account with OZOW.

PROTEAS CWC CONCERNS AND WHAT FAF SAYS

| Cricket, Cricket World Cup 2019, Features, Latest | No Comments
14 June 2019, by: Carl Lewis PROTEAS CWC CONCERNS AND WHAT FAF SAYS It’s been the worst beginning imaginable to the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) for the Proteas. They…

SUPER RUGBY PREDICTIONS – ROUND 18

| Features, Latest, Rugby, Super Rugby | No Comments
13 June 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld SUPER RUGBY PREDICTIONS - ROUND 18 There are permutations aplenty and all to play for in what promises to be a pulsating final…

Join the discussion One Comment

Leave a Reply