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By Nicholas Zaal

Digital Journalist

‘It is their time’ – Gibbs and Donald tip Proteas to succeed where they failed

Though the Proteas legends have shared their past heartaches at the World Cup, they believe experience and form will carry the current side over the line in Saturday's T20 final.

Proteas legends Allan Donald and Herschelle Gibbs believe the current side have done the hard work already in the T20 World Cup, and momentum will carry them over the line in the final against India in Barbados on Saturday.

The veterans of past World Cup heartaches and near-misses singled out experience, lessons learned and the form of key players as South Africa aim to win their first-ever trophy at the global showpiece.

In major ICC tournaments, South Africa have only won the 1998/99 ICC KnockOut Trophy (later called the Champions Trophy) as well as the U19 Cricket World Cup in 2014 – the young champions also captained by Aiden Markram at the time.

ALSO READ: T20 World Cup final: How SA, India stack up in batting and bowling departments

But South Africa have never won a senior men’s Cricket World Cup, though they reached the semi-finals seven times, in ODI and T20 cricket, before the win against Afghanistan at this T20 World Cup ensured they will play in Saturday’s final.

Renowned fast bowler Donald and dashing opening batsman Gibbs both played in the 1999 World Cup semi-final against Australia at Edgbaston, which is probably South Africa’s most famous ‘defeat’ of all.

The match ended in a tie after Donald was run out, having set off late and dropping his bat, meaning Australia went through based on their higher log-position.

Gibbs will remember the tournament for dropping an easy catch with Steve Waugh on 48 in the Super Sixes to allow the Aussie captain to score 120 not out and win the game for his side.

Herschelle Gibbs and Allan Donald
Proteas legends Herschelle Gibbs and Allan Donald. Pictures: Gallo Images

‘This time Proteas will win’

“I honestly believe this is South Africa’s time,” Donald told SportsBoom.com. “They are battle-hardened and mentally conditioned now to winning the very big moments.

“They have found a way to win every time, someone has made a breakthrough, or someone has come up with crucial runs eight matches in a row.”

ALSO READ: Rob Walter wants Proteas players to ‘express themselves’ in T20 World Cup final

Gibbs agreed, praising the bowling line-up and pointing to the momentum the team carries.

“They have done it the hard way and now that they’ve got to the final, I believe the cricketing gods will smile on us,” Gibbs said.

“Our bowling line-up is as good as any and with the pitches doing so much, the bowlers are always in play. Captain Aiden Markram’s decision-making has been really good, he’s made the changes, the big calls, at the right times.”

Players at their best

Much like the 2014 win for the junior side, Gibbs highlighted Markram’s ability to read and adapt to changing conditions.

The pair applauded the current players on how they capitalised on difficult batting conditions, especially at the United States venues.

“Coach Rob Walter has brought top character through and made everyone responsible. I really think it is their time. They are playing with fantastic calmness and are really tight knit as a squad,” Donald said.

Gibbs said the IPL experience of the likes of Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, Tristan Stubbs, Markram and David Miller should stand them in good stead.

“Our spinners can come to the party with the ball, but for the batsmen, building partnerships against spin is going to be the key.”

ALSO READ: T20 World Cup final: South Africa v India — all the details

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