- 2015 World Cup was the last time SA really came forward as a strong contender for a major title.
- Morne Morkel retired, JP Duminy hung his boots, and David Miller never came into his own.
- India, Australia, England, and New Zealand - These are the big four teams dominating cricket.
It was 2015, and South Africa and New Zealand were battling it out in the semifinals of the ODI World Cup. It all came down to the Kiwis requiring 5 runs off the last two deliveries. It was Dale Steyn bowling the last over - who was arguably the best in the world at that point.
Well, it wasn't to be for the Proteas. Grant Elliot smacked the 4th ball of the over for a maximum, and it was all over for South Africa. Dale Steyn laid flat on the ground.
Morne Morkel and AB de Villers sat on the ground with tears rolling out of their eyes. That was the last time South Africa really came forward as a strong contender for a major title. The next few years weren't really great for the team. Dale Steyn was in and out of the set-up owing to injuries.
Morne Morkel retired, JP Duminy hung his boots, and David Miller didn't really become the player everyone was hoping for him to be. When we talk about the fall, we do have to talk about the board's inability to provide any financial stability to the players. The team lost out so many players to the kolpak deal. Morne Morkel, Kyle Abbott, Simon Harmer, and Vernon Philander are just a few players South Africa lost out on.
The world of cricket thrives on competition. Take that out, and you have a lifeless game dominated by a couple or more teams. India, Australia, England, and New Zealand. These are the big four teams dominating cricket left, right and centre.
Pakistan blows hot and cold. Bangladesh threatened a meteoric rise but failed to live up to any expectations. Sri Lanka looks like staging a comeback, but the question of whether they'll ever be able to come close to the Sangakara era remains.
Afghanistan is relatively new. They have the passion, hunger and a quality side that can upset big teams. But that's that. Nothing more. West Indies players are scattered all over the world playing in different leagues. That brings us down to South Africa.
The team is now led by Temba Bavuma. The rise and rise of Aiden Markram, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, and David Miller's homecoming has again put South Africa back on the map. Their performance in the T20 World Cup was phenomenal and right up there with the South African standards.
Although the team lost the 1st T20I rather disappointingly, the match in no way defines what the team has managed to build up in the last few years. The men in blue would not want to get ahead of themselves and would want to be at their very best come the 2nd T20I. This SA team is all heart, and they know how to win.
With all said and done, the Protea fire is alive and well. The only thing they would want is a World Cup to show for all their efforts. Can they do away with the chokers tag and build a legacy far beyond what anyone could have imagined?