Saturday, 15 June 2013

Can SA win the last Champions Trophy?

Clearly not... This is what one may have thought after the Proteas lost to Pakistan by six wickets in a warm up match and then to India by 26 runs in the first game of this year's (and the last) ICC Champions Trophy. However, since then the Proteas beat Pakistan by 67 runs and tied with the West Indies. This means South Africa is through to the semi finals.

As a South African cricket fan I can't deny that this tournament has suddenly become very interesting to me. Can we go all the way? Do we have what it takes? Equally important is the question: do the SA players have the hunger to win? 

None of the other teams have shown the consistency that India have displayed. Regardless, it takes four teams to make two semi-finals. Four teams have a chance for glory, to win the last Champions Trophy. 

The Proteas' performance has been up-and-down lately, but there has been an improvement. The team suffered the loss of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn. However Steyn is back and the others have been replaced. I believe Chris Morris has brought more dynamism to the team than there was before. 

I have been thinking recently about what is more important to a sports team: talent or hunger to win. Skill is not everything, but an average person cannot walk onto a sports field and excel. Both are required. India look like they have both, and Shikhar Dhawan is playing absolutely brilliantly. They must be the favourites to win the tournament.

Shikhar Dhawan celebrates his maiden ODI century
Shikhar Dhawan (27) scored his maiden ODI century against SA on 6 June. He was awarded the man of the match, scoring 114 (94). Nice picture. It was taken from

However, for the Proteas Ryan McLaren has been quite good and consistent, and our bowling and batting attacks are both looking more determined and clinical with each game. Colin Ingram's 73 off 63 deliveries against the West Indies stands out for me as a demonstration that South Africa are still fighting. His man of the match performance, especially coming from a man who has not been very authoritative in his batting lately, reveals that the team wants to win and, as I can't think of a better way of saying it, will transform themselves, sacrifice their comfort, to do what they must to win. It is possible SA can do it.

Colin Ingram pulls to the leg side boundary
It was nice seeing Colin Ingram (27) play so confidently and aggressively against the West Indies on 14 June. Image taken from
We are less consistent than India right now, but recent displays and the fact that some of our brilliant players have been dormant means that our true potential has yet to be realised in this competition. Has everyone forgotten that we have the two best batsmen in the world in ODIs, at least according to the last rankings I saw, and the best bowler in tests? On a side note, who would have thought that after two games Australia would be at the bottom of group A (which consists of NZ, ENG and SRI)?

If anyone is a soccer/football fan the Confederations Cup should be good. Brazil look great, I will probably support them and Nigeria.