Proteas the team to beat

2009-06-02 07:59
Sport24 columnist Arthur Turner (File)
Arthur Turner

South Africa, along with India and Australia, must be the favorites to win the ICC World Twenty20 starting at Lord's on Friday.

However, due to the dynamics of the 20-over game, any of the top teams in international cricket can win the event. Personally, as a South African, I am going for the Proteas to win.

The lack of structure and the amount of 20-over cricket played at international level makes it difficult to make any predictions based on facts. Also, the game is unpredictable as we saw when Zimbabwe beat Australia at Newlands in the 2007 tournament. These two factors make a mockery of the form book and the critics.

The team that wins the tournament will ultimately be the one that handles the pressure the best and wins the 'big moments'. The winners will also have to have their fair share of luck. South Africa have historically not been good at handling pressure in global events and certainly haven’t enjoyed any luck either. The Proteas let a golden opportunity slip in failing to win the inaugural tournament on home soil in 2007.

South Africa have a well balanced team for the tournament with the right blend of batsmen for English conditions, two finishers in Mark Boucher and Albie Morkel and three spinning options that can all bat. The weak link is the fast bowling department with regards to form, depth and experience.

South Africa’s batsmen are in good form if their Indian Premier League performances are any thing to go by. The only concern must be the form of Graeme Smith who had a very poor IPL and was eventually left out of the Rajasthan Royals team. However, we all know he is a quality player and fighter and will be back.

Limited opportunities

The fast bowling department is a concern, though, with Dale Steyn being the only world class performer, but at times he leaks runs in limited overs cricket. Wayne Parnell and Yusuf Abdulla have done well in the limited opportunities they have had, but do lack experience. Morne Morkel is the major worry. However, Smith does have Jacques Kallis and Albie Morkel to use.

Spin has proved to be an important component of the 20-over attack and here South Africa are well equipped. Johan Botha has enjoyed a wonderful limited overs season and I just hope that the recent scrutiny test on his bowling action has not affected his confidence. Roelof van der Merwe has proved that he is a fighter and an asset to any team and Robin Petersen will also not let the Proteas down.

The Proteas have a third but very important string to their bow in that they are probably best fielding team in world cricket. The likes of AB de Villers, JP Duminy and Herschelle Gibbs will once again ensure that the Proteas have an advantage in this area. Fielding will undoubtedly play a role in the many tight games that will be the nature of the tournament. 

The tournament will provide a great opportunity for the Proteas to win a global event that will have a big impact on the cricket public of South Africa. The country is still on cloud 'Twenty20' after the successful IPL in South Africa. 

South Africa undoubtedly have the ingredients to win the ICC World Twenty20.

Arthur is a former cricket administrator and current player agent.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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