Highs and lows: Five key memories of SA’s campaign at Cricket World Cup
The Proteas experienced more ups than downs at the global spectacle.
Fast bowler Gerald Coetzee celebrates a wicket with teammates during South Africa’s semi-final against Australia on Thursday at the Cricket World Cup. Picture: Pankaj Nangia/Gallo Images
While they were eliminated in the semi-finals for the fifth time, again falling short of a spot in the final, it was a memorable edition of the Cricket World Cup for the SA team.
We take a look at some of the highs and lows experienced by the national squad at the quadrennial 50-over showpiece.
In their first match of the tournament, against Sri Lanka in Delhi, the Proteas stood up in spectacular fashion, making a statement with a convincing victory.
While the Sri Lankans went on to struggle throughout the tournament, the Proteas gained significant momentum which ultimately carried them into the playoffs.
Three batters – Rassie van der Dussen (108), Aiden Markram (106) and Quinton de Kock (100) – scored centuries as South Africa set their opponents a 429-run target and raced to a 102-run win.
Though they were criticised for their inconsistency, as well as their apparent struggle to chase down targets, the Proteas were destructive when they batted first and dominated most of their group stage matches.
After defeating Sri Lanka, they went on to win more than half their first-round games by more than 100 runs.
They picked up big wins against five-time champions Australia (134 runs), defending champions England (229 runs), minnows Bangladesh (149 runs) and consistent performers New Zealand (190 runs).
The semi-final against Australia was not the only match they lost during the six-week tournament.
They also stumbled in two games in the round-robin group stage, and while they ended second in the table, both defeats exposed their vulnerability.
In their third game against Netherlands, the Proteas went down by 38 runs in a shock repeat of last year’s T20 World Cup.
And they went on to lose against India, who gave them a hiding, bowling out the Proteas for 83 to win by 243 runs.
Quinton de Kock
Playing his last 50-over World Cup, after announcing his retirement before the tournament, De Kock was brilliant.
He turned out in all 10 of the Proteas’ matches, racking up 594 runs at the top of the order at an average of 59.40, as he settled in second place in the run-scoring charts (behind Indian legend Virat Kohli) ahead of the final.
The 30-year-old player bashed four centuries, including a 174-run contribution against Bangladesh which was just four runs short of his ODI career-best.
He also took 19 catches behind the stumps, as well as one stumping.
The youngest member of the SA squad, 23-year-old Coetzee had some big boots to fill after paceman Anrich Nortje was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to injury.
Despite the pressure he faced, however, Coetzee showed maturity beyond his years as he formed a key part of the Proteas attack.
He took wickets in all eight matches he played, taking 20 scalps at an average of 19.80, and picked up an ODI career-best of 4/44 in their group stage match against Afghanistan.