Home > Features >

ICC Champions Trophy 2013: South Africa have what it takes to succeed, but will the weight of history hold them back?

ICC Champions Trophy 2013: South Africa have what it takes to succeed, but will the weight of history hold them back?

It is the perfect opportunity for South Africa to send coach Gary Kirsten off on a high as the Champions Trophy is his last campaign with them © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

In November 1998, a balanced South African unit clinched their maiden world title by winning the Wills International Cup. Despite the absence of key players such as Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Gary Kirsten to name a few, the Hansie Cronje led side were ruthless in their approach and won convincingly. Fifteen years on, the Rainbow Nation awaits a world title as their men invariably falter at the big stage. Will the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 be their time in the sun? Will the monkey finally come off their back?

Former South African coach Mickey Arthur said, after the Proteas crashed out of the 2011 World Cup, “The monkey has almost become a gorilla now and until we win an ICC event it’s always going to be there I’m afraid.” Arthur was obviously referring to the infamous “chokers” tag that keeps haunting South Africa at critical junctures. They dominate world cricket and are amongst the most consistent sides going around, but when it comes to these tournaments, the burden of history plays on their minds.

However, South Africa may be in a better position to deal with their predicament this year. In their dressing room, they have the calming influence of Gary Kirsten — who knows a thing or two about winning big events. Coaching an Indian team isn’t an easy job as the pressure is intense with a billion strong expectations, yet he was successful in paving the way to their World Cup victory. In comparison, dealing with the “chokers” tag may be easier as it would all be in the mind. His presence as coach would be crucial as he could keep them focussed even in times of crisis.

On paper, South Africa have the strongest side in the competition. Although they will miss Graeme Smith, they have enough firepower in the batting. Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers would be the mainstays of the batting and have to lead the way. Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy are the other senior men. The great thing is that they have some exciting young talent in Colin Ingram, David Miller and Farhaan Behardien. This generation may look at things differently and wouldn’t be bogged down by their past.

South Africa have often struggled to find a stable spin-bowling option, until they had Johan Botha for One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Now that Botha isn’t playing for them anymore, they have had to find options. A young left-armer named Aaron Phangiso could be the man for the job. His slow-left arm orthodox impressed during the Champions League T20 (CLT20) last year as he kept it tight and also picked up wickets. He may not get enough purchase from the English conditions, but can support the fast bowlers well by bowling a few quiet overs in the middle.

As has always been the case, South Africa’s fate hinges on their fast-bowling department. A ferocious Dale Steyn leads the pack and is backed by Morne Morkel. With them at the helm, it is easy to forget someone like a Lonwabo Tsotsobe. The left-armer adds variety to this attack as he is a touch slower and relies on his nagging line and length to do the trick. More importantly, he is a wicket-taker and that gives them tremendous depth.

To sum up, South Africa have what it takes to rewrite their history. They have a dynamic first eleven and boast of enough depth in their reserves. It is the perfect opportunity for them to send Kirsten off on a high as the Champions Trophy is his last campaign with them. India gave him that perfect send-off in 2011 and it is time his countrymen accord him a similar honour.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with cricketcountry.com and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

British judge baffled by cricket terms

Live Streaming: New Zealand vs South Africa, 2nd ODI at Mt Maunganui

Live Scorecard: New Zealand vs South Africa, 2nd ODI at Mount Maunganui

Live Cricket Score: New Zealand vs South Africa, 2nd ODI at Mount Maunganui

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: 1st Test sees disappointing crowd turnout

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

Joginder Sharma: When an over eclipses a career

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

Bigg Boss 8 highlights: Contestants celebrate Diwali with Palak and Gutthi!

Xiaomi is migrating its international users’ data to improve service performance and strengthen privacy

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

WTA Tour Finals Singapore 2014: Serena Williams retains hopes of semi-final berth after trumping Eugenie Bouchard

David Warner strikes back for Australia after Sarfraz Ahmed’s ton lifts Pakistan to 454 in 1st Test

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

Abhishek Bachchan, the surprise package in Farah Khan’s Happy New Year?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg surprises Chinese crowd by speaking seemingly good Mandarin

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here