Opinion: Can the Proteas really win the World Cup?

Fielder throws cricket ball in

Jonhenry Wilson takes a look at whether or not the Proteas can win the 2019 Cricket World Cup. 

Ten teams will line up at 2019 World Cup in England - the same number as did when South Africa first competed in 1992.

In '92, South Africa appeared bound for the final until a farcical rain rule shut them out of the semi-final against England - and so started a history of heartache.

In 1996, Hansie Cronje led the best ODI side in the world into the World Cup co-hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Proteas steamrolled their group and were early favourites, but Brian Lara's West Indies pulled the rug out from beneath Cronje's charges and sent them packing at the quarter-final stage.

For all the disappointment that had come before, 1999 held the biggest heartbreak of them all. The mix-up between Allan Donald and Lance Klusener that ended the Proteas' World Cup dream at Edgbaston has become one of the most replayed moments of cricket history. It was a moment that entrenched the idea that the Proteas were chokers - and that they would never win a World Cup.

In 2003, a Duckworth-Lewis System miscalculation saw Shaun Pollock's team crash out at the group stage. In 2007, the drama was in the Proteas' dressing room and the team crashed out at the semi-final stage after an abject batting display. In 2011, South Africa lost in the quarter-finals to New Zealand, having topped their group which included hosts and eventual winners India. In 2015, it was New Zealand who again inflicted defeat on the Proteas at the semi-final stage.

With all that history behind the team, can this group find a way to turn it all around? Even with the patchy form in ODI cricket over the last 18 months taken into account, they are a dangerous side and a team that tournament favourites England and India will be wary of.

This Proteas side is well led, but there are still some issues for Faf du Plessis and Ottis Gibson to iron out. Much has been made of the style in which India and England play the game. It is hyper-aggressive and very entertaining, but ODI cricket is not just a batsman's game - and Virat Kohli and Eoin Morgan would likely want to avoid a semi-final clash with the Proteas.

The format of the tournament means that the Proteas could afford a loss or two in the round-robin phase. Teams need to be consistent across their nine matches, though, to make it into the last four - and there really aren't any easy matches.

The 'bottom half' teams in the tournament in terms of rankings are all potential banana skins for the Proteas, who face big guns England and India early on and could be left playing catch-up. Bangladesh, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan haven't been given a prayer in this World Cup format where they will be required to string together a simply incredible run of results to make it to the last four, but they could take vital points off contenders like the Proteas, New Zealand, Pakistan, Australia - and even the top two ranked teams.

Most Proteas fans know better than to get too excited too early at a World Cup. The team probably shouldn't win the World Cup, but they definitely can. While some teams are more likely than others to succeed, the truth is that in sport there are no guarantees - and at this stage any of the 10 nations in the competition could win it.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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