South Africa face struggle to qualify for Cricket World Cup

 South Africa face struggle to qualify for Cricket World Cup

South African fans have suffered more heartbreak from cricket World Cups than any other format of the game.

There have been heartbreaking close calls and innumerable disappointments, but qualifying for the event has never been a problem.

South Africa, on the other hand, must find dramatically improved form or risk missing out on the main event in India in October and November 2023.

The Proteas are in trouble after losing a home series to Bangladesh. They are currently ranked ninth in the World Cup Super League.

Only eight teams qualify automatically, including the hosts, India.

In June 2023, the Super League’s bottom five teams, together with five associate nations, will compete in a qualifying tournament with only two spots available for India.

“The alarm bells are there and we’re putting ourselves under pressure,” said head coach Mark Boucher after Bangladesh clinched a series victory with a nine-wicket win in Centurion on Wednesday.

South Africa has only won four of its 13 Super League matches, and they still have three tough three-match series against England, India, and Australia ahead of them. They do hope to win two postponed matches against the Netherlands, despite the fact that the first match of a Covid-shortened series was washed out in November.

Boucher said South Africa “went to sleep” against Bangladesh and needed to improve. But he said automatic qualification was not out of reach.

“We’ve beaten the best sides in the world before and we’ll have to beat them again to qualify for the World Cup,” said Boucher. “If we arrive with confidence we can beat anyone.”

Boucher is under contract until the World Cup, but his position as coach is uncertain. In May, he will be subjected to a disciplinary trial on racial discrimination claims, which might result in his firing.

Temba Bavuma, the South African captain, said he was baffled as to how a side that had beaten India 3-0 in a series in January could perform so poorly against Bangladesh.

The series versus India was not part of the Super League, which was an irony for South Africa.

“In the series against India our intensity was at another level but in this series we were not good enough,” said Bavuma. He gave credit to Bangladesh. “The skill and execution of Bangladesh was at a high level.”

The Indian Premier League begins on Sunday, and eight of the players that played against Bangladesh have signed contracts to play in it.

The IPL problem was the subject of much conjecture in the lead-up to the series, with IPL players agreeing to be available for the one-day games but not for the two Test matches, which begin on March 31.

Asked whether the IPL debate was a distraction, Bavuma said, “Individually the guys will have ask themselves that question but it is not an excuse I will be using.”

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