Proteas are proud, but heartbroken

25 March 2015

“All credit to South Africa, the way they have played has been a great advert for cricket and their country. They gave us one hell of a run,” New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said after his team beat the Proteas in a thrilling World Cup semifinal match at Eden Park in Auckland on Tuesday.

“It was a great advert for cricket. Everyone that was here will remember it for the rest of their lives. We have given ourselves a chance of World Cup glory and I’m proud of our efforts.”

 

De Villiers recovers after
falling in his crease

South African captain AB de Villiers recovers after falling into his crease during the ICC World Cup semifinal match against New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland on 24 March 2015. (Image: Cricket SA)

It was McCullum who launched a calculated attack on the Castle Lager Proteas with his opening innings, and then the former South African under-19 all-rounder Grant Elliott finished the job as New Zealand beat the Proteas by four wickets with a ball to spare under the Duckworth/Lewis method to qualify for Sunday’s ICC Cricket World Cup Final.

Their opponents at the Melbourne Cricket Ground will be either India or Australia, who play the second semi-final on Thursday.

A visibly emotional AB de Villiers said after the game that his team was broken. While they were set on taking the trophy home, he was proud of his team’s efforts.

“It was an amazing game. I couldn’t ask for anything more. We’re hurting over this. We play for the people back home, hopefully the passion we showed made a difference and that people can still be proud of us, even though we have lost tonight.

“There have been some wonderful performances. We had a wonderful thing going. We are a unit, but the unit came unstuck today. There have been very good individual performances throughout the tournament. To the teams in the final, all the best for whoever wins.”

At the post-match press conference, De Villiers said that it was no consolation that they had just played in one of the most memorable World Cup matches ever. “We play this game to win games of cricket, to take glory home and make a difference in the nation. And we didn’t do that. We didn’t achieve that, and it hurts quite a bit. Gutted. We had our chances and we didn’t take them.”

De Villiers said “the most disappointing part” of losing was that they felt they had let “all of our fans and supporters down”.

“As much as we are hurting, we also know that every single supporter who has been with us on this journey will be hurting too. Each time we were out in the middle we knew there were many South Africans up early to watch us – we appreciate that. The support from back home has meant a great deal to us as a team, we wouldn’t have gotten this far without it.”

New Zealand had been set a revised target of 298 in 43 overs after the Proteas had made 281/5 in their 43 overs.

McCullum set the pace for the chase with his innings of 59 off 26 balls (8 fours and 4 sixes) that included a partnership with Martin Guptill of 71 runs from the opening 5 overs.

Imran Tahir put a break on proceedings with a maiden in the sixth over and then McCullum fell to the first ball of Morne Morkel’s next over.

The Proteas gradually pulled the run rate back largely through the efforts of Imran and Morkel who have been their two best bowlers throughout the tournament. Dale Steyn appeared to be struggling with a leg injury and, in fact, had to receive treatment midway through the final over.

The other key partnership was the 103 for the fifth wicket between Man of the Match Elliott (84 off 73 balls, 7 fours and 3 sixes) and Corey Anderson (58 off 57 balls, 6 fours and 2 sixes).

It is difficult to know what the Proteas might have done better to have won the match.

The rain interruption that disrupted the Proteas innings will always be a topic of debate. When it came down the Proteas had 216/3 after 38 overs with Faf du Plessis (82 not out off 106 balls) and AB de Villiers (60 not out off 38 balls) well in control during a partnership of 103 for the fourth wicket.

They had scored 56 between the 30th and 35th over and 32 in the first three overs of the batting power play. At that stage a target in the region of 350 from the full 50 overs looked a very realistic scenario.

But that was not to be. The Proteas had a further 5 overs to face after the rain display and did well to make 65 during this period thanks in the main to David Miller (49 off 18 balls, 6 fours and 3 sixes).

But in the end it was not quite enough.

In spite of this defeat this campaign will go down as South Africa’s best in the 7 World Cups in which they have participated to date.

WORLD CUP MATCHES

Group matches

  • 15 February: South Africa beat Zimbabwe.
  • 22 February: India beat South Africa.
  • 27 February: South Africa beat West Indies.
  • 3 March: South Africa beat Ireland.
  • 7 March: Pakistan beat South Africa.
  • 12 March: South Africa beat United Arab Emirates.

Quater-finals

  • 18 March: South Africa beat Sri Lanka.
  • 19 March: India beat Bangladesh.
  • 20 March: Australia beat Pakistan.
  • 21 March: New Zealand beat West Indies.

Semifinals

  • 24 March: New Zealand beat South Africa
  • 26 March, 5.30am: India v Australia, Sydney Cricket Ground

Final

  • 29 March, 5.30am: Melbourne Cricket Ground

Cricket South Africa SAinfo reporter