Cricket World Cup 2019: South Africa’s record at the World Cup from 1992 to 2015
South Africa have a history of heartbreaks at the World Cup (Getty Images)

South Africa missed the opening four World Cups due to their apartheid ban from international cricket. They finally made their first appearance at the 1992 tournament but despite strong performances at the showpiece event, theirs is a story of heartbreak.

Ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to be held in England from May 30 to July 14, here’s a recap of how past South African teams have fared at the event.

Benson & Hedges World Cup 1992

Their exile from international over, South Africa finally made their world cup debut in Australia – the first major multi-team event. They made a dream start, crushing the defending champions Australia by nine wickets in their opening match. It was followed by defeats to New Zealand and Sri Lanka but bounced back with a hat-trick of wins including one over Pakistan during which Jonty Rhodes stunned with his superman run-out of Inzamam-ul-Haq. However, losing to England meant they had to win their first league match against India to make the semis which they did in thrilling fashion. Then came the first of the major heartbreaks for the Proteas. Chasing against England, South Africa needed 22 off 13 to win when rain stopped play. When it finally relented and the chase resumed, they needed an impossible 22 off one delivery as per the rules concerning the matches affected by rain.

Wills World Cup 1996

Under the captaincy of Hansie Cronje, South Africa came to their second every world cup tournament with a point to prove. They bulldozed their way the quarter-finals. Placed in group B alongside Pakistan, New Zealand, England, Netherlands and United Arab Emirates, they remained unbeaten en route to a quarter-finals contest with West Indies. A selection blunder followed. In what was a pace-friendly pitch, South Africa benched Allan Donald and opted for a spinner in Paul Adams. Chasing 265, they were bowled out for 245.

ICC World Cup 1999

A new format was introduced – the top three teams from each group (two) progressed to Super Sixes stage. South Africa topped their group A winning four of their five matches. In the Super Sixes, they won two of their three matches – one defeat coming against Australia during which Herschelle Gibbs dropped that infamous catch of Steve Waugh which proved decisive. South Africa got a chance to avenge the defeat when they faced Australia in the semi-final. They came close this time around. With just a single needed off four deliveries, Lance Klusener set off for a quick single, but non-striker Allan Donald stayed rooted before dropping his bat and then dashed off. By that time, the Australian fielders had managed to throw the ball to ‘keeper Adam Gilchrist who did the rest. The match ended in a tie and Australia entered the final on the basis of better net run-rate.

ICC World Cup 2003

Hosting the tournament for the first time, South Africa would have hoped to rewrite history. However, another tied match sealed their fate. With three wins and two defeats from five matches, they needed to win the final one to make the Super Sixes. Sri Lanka scored 268 thanks to century from Marvan Atapattu. SA camp had calculated 229 to be their target by 45th over to ensure a win. Mark Boucher smoked Muttiah Muralitharan for a six before turning down the chance to take a single off the final delivery of the 45th over. Rain came pouring down and the match was halted. As luck would have it, 229 was the score needed for a tie not win. SA had miscalculated their target and were knocked out.

ICC World Cup 2007

After knocking over minnows in their opening two group fixtures, South Africa suffered an 83-run loss against old rivals Australia. The two wins were enough to secure a berth in the Super eights where they were given a mighty scare by Lasith Malinga who picked four wickets in as many deliveries. SA managed to eke out a one-run win. They did suffer two losses to Bangladesh and New Zealand but crushed England by nine-wickets to enter semi-finals. And were blown away in turn by, again, Australia. Only there was no late drama as they were bundled out for 149 – a target Aussies achieved with no fuss.

ICC World Cup 2011

An in-form South Africa were rampant in the group stage. They sailed to facile wins over West Indies, Netherlands, Ireland and Bangladesh. They had to work hard to get past favourites India though and lost to England – their only defeat. A quarter-final meeting with New Zealand pitted them as firm favourites. They justified their billing till the time when their old wounds were opened. In chase of 222, South Africa were in the driving seat at 108/2 when Jacques Kallis fell. Faf du Plessis then committed a major error, running out his partner AB de Villiers while attempting a quick single. The Kiwis gave him an earful for his deed and a heated exchange followed. That proved to be the turning point of the match as South Africa collapsed to be bowled out for 172.

ICC World Cup 2015

With four victories from six group matches, South Africa made the knockouts yet again. Two defeats came against India – who beat them for the first time at the tournament – and Pakistan. Sri Lanka crumbled to spin in the quarters with Imran Tahir and JP Duminy sharing seven wickets as they bundled out the 2011 semi-finalists for 133. Quinton de Kock hit 78 as they sealed the win in 18 overs. And then followed yet another dramatic exit. Again, it was New Zealand who pushed them out. But the seeds of their defeat had been sown long before the toss. An unfit Vernon Philander was slotted into the XI in place of in-form Kyle Abbott. There were even reports of captain De Villiers offering to withdraw from the semi-final to register his protest at the decision. Du Plessis and De Villiers starred, powering their team to 281/5. Rain forced a revised target of 298. The match went down the wire with New Zealand needing 12 off six. Daniel Vettori struck a four off the third delivery and with five need off the last two, Grant Elliott struck a six sending New Zealand into their maiden World Cup final.