South Africa, one of the favourites to win the cricket World Cup, was once again knocked out in the quarter-finals, this time by the underdogs New Zealand, further etching in stone their status as chokers of competitive cricket. The successful coach of the
winning World Cup Indian team and the former opening batsman of the Proteas team Gary Kirsten thinks that the weak middle order batting was one of the major reasons for South Africa's exit.
He said, "The most important thing in those games is to have an experienced middle order, I just felt that they fell short in the middle order in this World Cup."
New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori had said if they could get top four South African batsmen, Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers the rest of the middle order would be unable to sustain the pressure. That is precisely what happened
in the quarter-final.
An analysis of the performances of middle and lower order batsmen, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis and Robin Peterson reaffirms this view. Here is a summary of their performances against South Africa's matches.
First match vs. West Indies was played on 24th February at Delhi, India.
- Duminy scored unbeaten 42 runs.
The Proteas won the match by seven wickets.
Second match vs. The Netherlands, played on 3rd March at Mohali, India.
- Plessis – 18 runs
- Duminy – 40 runs.
South Africa won the match by 231 runs.
Third match vs. England, played on 6th March at Chennai, India.
- Plessis – 17 runs.
- Duminy – 0.
- Peterson – 3 runs.
England won the match by 6 runs.
Fourth match vs. India , played on 12th March at Nagpur, India.
- Duminy – 23 runs.
- Plessis – 25 runs.
- Peterson – 18 runs.
South Africa won the match by 3 wickets.
Fifth match vs. Ireland played on 15th March at Kolkata, India.
- Duminy – 99 runs.
- Plessis – 11 runs.
- Peterson – 0
South Africa won the match by 131 runs.
Sixth match vs. Bangladesh was played on 19th March at Mirpur, Bangladesh.
- Duminy – 17 runs.
- Plessis – 52 runs.
- Peterson – 22 runs.
South Africa won the match by 206 runs.
Seventh Match vs. New Zealand (Quarter-Final)
- Duminy – 3 runs.
- Plessis – 36 runs.
- Peterson – 0.
New Zealand won the knock out match by 49 runs.
The total contribution by the middle and lower order was 426 runs which they scored in seven matches which was not a good going at all. South African coach Mickey Arthur accused the middle order batting for their performance which led to the exit from the
competition and it was strange that the Captain Smith was unaware of that fact and commented,
"I think [Graeme] Smith said after the game that they lost that ,'We do not know [what goes wrong], we are trying our best and we doing what we can. We want to get over this but we don't know how.' Please understand it's not easy. I feel sad for them."
It is sad when a team like South Africa goes out at the crucial stages of the important events and the term ‘Chokers’ is confirmed by the media time and again which is one of the causes of their let down.
South Africa needs a coach like Gary Kirsten who has taken India to the peaks of the game once they won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. India has released him and its’ time for the Proteas to catch him who knows their weak points, mend their shortcomings
and has the ability to transform their middle order and entire team.