World Cup Preview #6: South Africa

Here are the potential champions, for me at least. A very strong (and consistent) batting line-up packed with batsmen who can play long innings as well as attack when the situation demands it, the best new-ball pair in the world, and supremely athletic fielders. If there's a weakness, it's the back-up bowling. Their only bowler who can turn a ball is uncapped, and the others, while steady, are not wicket-takers. Anyway, here's the player-specific crap.

Graeme Smith is going to have a good tournament, and not just because Zaheer doesn't play for every team. He's a captain who leads from the front, and he will be a key part of South Africa's success.

Hashim Amla might fail. Yes, that's a brave call on my part, but bad form has to catch up with him sometime, right? This will probably be the worst prediction anyone has ever made, more out of hope than clairvoyance.
AB de Villiers

I've put Morne van Wyk in at #3 here because he could be needed as a keeper, just in case AB may not want to keep. He's also a very good attacking batsman, so he might actually bat anywhere in the order when acceleration is needed.

Jacques Kallis has an excellent World Cup record, and that will not change in his last one. At 35, he has played four World Cups without winning one, and this could be his best chance, as long as he doesn't incapacitate himself by being tempted by street food.

AB deVilliers is one of the best batsmen around, especially in ODIs. Having said that, I think he may have an inconsistent tournament - he, like the team, can be susceptible to quality slow bowling, and he'll definitely be out of his comfort zone. Not when it comes to music, though - a song with Asha Bhosle or someone could be on the cards.

JP Duminy has struggled overseas, but he hasn't been around long enough for that to be a fixture. He was in good form against India and should do well given a little time to get his eye in. There's also his super-handy offspin.

Colin Ingram, though, won't get a lot of time to settle in. At #7, his role will be mostly just to attack from the moment he comes out to bat. That's something he is good at, but he may not necessarily succeed. He could also be batting higher up the order when they play an extra bowler.

Johan Botha is not a very good player for someone who is supposedly going to be captain in the future. His bowling is nothing more than steady, and he isn't a batsman who will play a long innings. He will have some useful contributions in the WC, but nothing spectacular.

Dale Steyn is at the top of his game, able to land it where he wants at high pace and with swing to boot. This is his first World Cup and he looks ready to take it by the neck and make it his bitch. Of course, a high quality batsman could nullify him on a flat pitch, however well he bowls, like Sachin did at Gwalior last year.

Morne Morkel has also turned into a world-class bowler in the past year, and his pace and bounce will be needed in the subcontinent. If batsmen go after him, however, he tends to become erratic. He will win a couple of games on his own but also will be expensive in a couple of other games.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe cemented his place with some good spells against India. He isn't just a trick created to confuse commentators, he can take the ball away and bring it back in with good effect, with decent variations in pace probably being his biggest weapon.

Wayne Parnell (not related to Chris Parnell) will get a game or two, and he will be expensive. That's all I can guarantee about him right now.

Robin Peterson is basically a left-handed Botha, but with half the skill. Might get a game. He shouldn't. Especially not as opening batsman.

Faf du Plessis had a good debut, but didn't do much after that. His best chance of playing is Colin Ingram or Morne van Wyk failing (a lot). Has the stupidest nickname in the squad. Seriously, Faf? Sounds like someone with a bad lisp saying "sass".

Imran Tahir, or "super secret weapon X" as he is called by nobody, was included on reputation alone, and hasn't yet played for South Africa after becoming eligible only recently. I think when, and if, he plays, he will get clobbered. What do I know, I'm only a legspinner.

Official-looking prediction: Champions. It's possible, this is a very strong team with one strong batsman following another, and then the Steynmeister and Morkel. Also, by nominating them, I hope that the 'C' word is thrown out to Fate for them. I'm polite enough not to utter the word itself.

No, I'm not.


(Note: I don't really believe they always choke, but it seems to annoy the Saffas, so I won't stop)