ICC World worldcup on Sky Sports sponsore by Rubicon

South Africa

South Africa: unfulfilled expectations

South Africa: unfulfilled expectations

South Africa squad:
Graeme Smith (capt)
Hashim Amla
Johan Botha
AB de Villiers
JP Duminy
Faf du Plessis
Colin Ingram
Jacques Kallis
Morne Morkel
Wayne Parnell
Robin Peterson
Dale Steyn
Imran Tahir
Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Morne van Wyk

Overview

Ever since South Africa's first appearance at the World Cup in 1992, the tournament has brought heartbreak to the Proteas and their fans.

The rain-affected semi-final loss in 1992 was followed by an unlikely quarter-final exit against the West Indies four years later. The drama of the Lance Klusener-Allan Donald run-out put paid to their chances in 1999, and 2003 saw the South Africans crash out early on their home turf.

Another semi-final loss in the Caribbean four years ago marked yet another World Cup tournament where the Proteas had promised so much in the lead-up and early rounds yet failed to deliver when the pressure was on.

The unfulfilled expectations of the past, and less hype around the side this time around, will benefit the Proteas' cause on the sub-continent. Presently fourth on the ICC's ODI rankings, South Africa will expect at least a semi-final finish but first need get through the tougher of the two groups, with Bangladesh posing a potential banana skin.

Strengths

Smith: final fling as one-day captain

When the Proteas top order fires it is arguably the best in the world, with Hashim Amla in scintillating one-day form, Jacques Kallis a colossal figure, and AB de Villiers the ODI player of the Year in 2010. If those three hit their straps then the Proteas will score large against any attack.

Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are venomous in any format and on almost any surface.

In addition they now have Lonwabo Tsotsobe performing consistently in what is a very handy seam trio, which will keep it tidy and pose a threat at the top of the innings.

Weaknesses

Amla: in fine one-day form

South Africa's bowling at the death needs to improve, something which Yusuf Pathan and the Indian tail exposed in the recent five-match ODI series.

Johan Botha is a dependable performer, but a question mark remains over the second spinner role, with Imran Tahir as yet untested and unproven at international level.

Batting-wise, an uncharacteristic shortage of all-rounders means that a long tail could be exposed if the top order were to fail. De Villiers doing glove duty also remains a puzzler.

His ability behind the stumps is not yet what it should be and he could add so much energy and agility to the Proteas in the field.

Six-hitter - AB de Villiers

de Villiers: best player of spin

The South African selectors have opted against picking a lower order big-hitter and are banking instead on their top order being effective enough to bat through before finishing with a flourish.

De Villiers, the best player of spin bowling in the Proteas line-up, has the ability to not only build an innings but also to clear the ropes when the time comes.

Strike bowler - Dale Steyn

Steyn: pace ace

Look no further than pace ace Steyn. With the new white ball in hand he has the potential to rip apart any top order, with his swing and accuracy. Tsotsobe and Morkel are likely to keep the pressure on from the other end which will only benefit the world's leading bowler.

Not only dangerous up front, Steyn has the ability to be effective with the older ball and his skipper will rely on the 27-year-old to come back into the attack and strike when necessary.

Look out for...Imran Tahir

Tahir: secret weapon

The fact everyone is excited and has an opinion on the Pakistan-born leg-spinner, yet very few have actually seen him play, makes Tahir the obvious player to watch in the Proteas side.

Chief selector Andrew Hudson and captain Smith have openly spoken of Tahir as a secret weapon after he was deliberately kept under wraps in the ODI series against India.

How he performs and whether or not opposition batsmen learn to read his googly - the delivery with which he takes most of his wickets - could be crucial to South Africa's chances on the sub-continent.

Experts & Blogs

Bob Willis

Jonathan Trott: Batsman could be absent from England for a long time after latest setback

Bob Willis told Sky Sports News that it could be some time before Jonathan Trott is back in an England shirt after suffering a recurrence of his stress-related illness.

Mike Atherton

Virat Kohli: India batsman has talent, temperament and cricketing intelligence in droves

Michael Atherton hailed Virat Kohli's self-belief after the Indian stroke-maker fired his nation into the final of the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh.