Proteas captain Faf du Plessis speaks after the defeat to Pakistan. Video: Cricket South Africa

Proteas have had ‘bad luck’ from ball one at the Cricket World Cup

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Jun 24, 2019

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Whether they choose to climb mountains or mention the word ‘choke’, the Proteas just cannot get close to winning a Cricket World Cup title.

With the latest belly-up display in England and Wales, where Faf du Plessis’ team were finally read their last rites with the 49-run loss to Pakistan at Lord’s on Sunday, we decided to have a look at the ‘bad luck’ from the past as well…

1992: First ball of the tournament against Australia

Back in international cricket, and with a fiery Allan Donald all decked out with his white war-paint, South Africa were ready to give it their all in their World Cup debut against Australia in Sydney.

And Donald did just that – he found the outside edge of Geoff Marsh’s bat, and Dave Richardson took the catch off the very first ball of the match. But umpire Brian Aldridge somehow decided that it was not out!

1992: Semi-final against England

With Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson at the crease, South Africa needed 22 runs to win off 13 balls against England. But heartbreak struck again at the Sydney Cricket Ground, as a short rain delay saw the target changed to 21 runs to win… off ONE BALL, due to the silly rules that were dictated to by television.

1996: Quarter-final against West Indies

As much as Brian Lara’s magnificent 111 off 94 balls will be remembered from this game, the fact is that the South Africans were well on their way to chasing the 265-run target at 186/3.

But Jimmy Adams got rid of Hansie Cronjé for 40, and then it was the Roger Harper Show – he dismissed Jonty Rhodes, Brian McMillan, Shaun Pollock and Steve Palframan in quick succession as South Africa lost six wickets for just 52 runs.

1999: ‘You’ve just dropped the World Cup, mate’

The Proteas had a chance to knock Australia out of the tournament at the Super Six stage. Steve Waugh was on 56 when he chipped Lance Klusener to Herschelle Gibbs at midwicket. Gibbs had started a ‘party trick’ of throwing the ball up in the air as soon as he had caught it, but on this occasion, the ball fell out of his hand as he went to lob it into the air.

But did he complete the catch? The umpires said no, and Waugh – who had reportedly told Gibbs “You’ve just dropped the World Cup, mate”, went on to score 120 not out off 110 balls to take Australia to victory.

Then, we all know what happened later in the tournament…

1999: World Cup semi-final against Australia

Just one run to win off three balls, and Lance Klusener squeezes Damian Fleming past the stumps and runs. But Allan Donald didn’t… and was run out. The match was tied, but Australia went through to the final on a better net run-rate, and promptly won the title.

2003: Duckworth-Lewis strikes

The Proteas, on home soil, had read the Duckworth-Lewis calculations incorrectly in a rain-affected game against Sri Lanka at Kingsmead. They needed to score one more run than the total on the sheet, but instead, Mark Boucher blocked the last ball from Muttiah Muralitharan before play was halted, and the match was tied, knocking SA out.

2007: Blitzed by Australia in semi-final

After choosing to bat first, the Proteas lost the match before it even really started as they slumped to 27/5. Glenn McGrath, Shaun Tait and Nathan Bracken ripped through the South African batting line-up, and Australia chased down the 150-run target easily.

2011: Jacob Oram the hero for New Zealand

Having done well to restrict New Zealand to 221/8 in the quarter-final, the Proteas were cruising at 108/2. But suddenly Jacques Kallis is brilliantly caught on the boundary by Jacob Oram, and AB de Villiers is run out for 35 after a suicidal single called by Faf du Plessis.

Then Oram got rid of Du Plessis, Johan Botha and Robin Peterson as Proteas collapsed to 172 all out.

2015: Former South African Elliott comes back to haunt Proteas

Grant Elliott was a SA Under-19 captain, but never kicked on in his senior provincial career at the Lions. So he made his way to New Zealand, and found himself in a World Cup semi-final against his former countrymen.

And then he hits Dale Steyn for a match-winning six off the second-last ball, after the Proteas had dropped a few catches and missed some run outs too.

2019: Proteas flop from the start

Faf du Plessis’ team never got going in England and Wales. An opening defeat to England was followed by losses to Bangladesh and India. Then, their must-win game against the West Indies is rained out, before further defeats to New Zealand and Pakistan ended their tournament.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis walks off the pitch after being given out caught by Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed. Photo: Alastair Grant/AP
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis walks off the pitch after being given out caught by Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed. Photo: Alastair Grant/AP

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