CWC 2023

Déjà vu as Proteas stumble again to Australia in a Cricket World Cup semifinal

Déjà vu as Proteas stumble again to Australia in a Cricket World Cup semifinal
Winning captain Pat Cummins of Australia is congratulated by Temba Bavuma of South Africa after the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup India 2023 semifinal on 16 November 2023 in Kolkata, India. (Photo: Gareth Copley / Getty Images)

The Proteas went down by three wickets in a tense semifinal encounter against Australia on Thursday, putting their quest for a first World Cup final appearance on hold for another four years.

South Africa lost by three wickets to Australia in yet another Cricket World Cup semifinal heartbreak. It’s the third time, after 1999 and 2007, that the men in green have been undone by those in yellow in a World Cup semifinal. 

The Proteas were chasing the game from the get-go after being 24 for four in the 12th over. They played catch-up for the rest of the match.

proteas australia semifinal

David Miller of South Africa bats during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup India 2023 semifinal between South Africa and Australia at Eden Gardens on 16 November 2023 in Kolkata, India. (Photo: Gareth Copley / Getty Images)

David Miller scored an outstanding chanceless century on the sticky Eden Gardens wicket in Kolkata to get South Africa to a respectable total of 212 all out.

The score was always under par, but the South African bowlers put up an incredible fight to take the match deep, nabbing seven Aussie wickets, with Australia hitting the winning runs in only the 48th over.

South Africa needed everything to fall their way in the field, but they dropped four difficult catches.

The Proteas’ spin bowling duo of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi were integral to keeping the Aussies in check, bowling 20 overs as a pair and only conceding 66 runs while grabbing three scalps.

proteas australia semifinal

Australia’s Mitchell Starc (left) and captain Pat Cummins celebrate their team’s win. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Gallo Images / Getty Images)

But South Africa’s score was just not enough as Pat Cummins cut a loose Marco Jansen delivery for four to seal the win.

Australia will now contest their eighth Cricket World Cup final when they take on India on Sunday, while South Africa continue to chase their first final. 

The 212 runs were always going to be a tough task to defend, but it was made even more difficult courtesy of a fast start by the Aussie openers. 

David Warner (29 off 18) and Travis Head (62 off 48) smacked 60 runs off the first six overs, bowled by Kagiso Rabada and a particularly wayward Jansen. The latter bowled four wides in his opening spell. 

Aiden Markram was brought into the attack in the seventh over and bowled a maiden wicket, castling Warner with his first delivery. 

proteas australia semifinal

Dejected South African players after the defeat in Kolkata. (Photo: Gareth Copley / Getty Images)

Rabada followed that up by getting rid of Mitchell Marsh for a duck the following over. 

Head and Steve Smith (30 off 62) put up a team-high partnership of 45. Head was dropped twice, once just before reaching 50 by Reeza Hendricks and again right after 50 by Klaasen.

Maharaj, who was held back until the 15th over, ripped through between Head’s bat and pad to eventually dismiss the destructive opener.

Marnus Labuschagne (18 off 31) survived a tight LBW call by Shamsi. But Shamsi trapped Labuschagne an over later after the Aussie bungled an attempted reverse sweep.

Shamsi clean-bowled Glenn Maxwell (one off five) in the following over to keep South Africa holding on to the hope of a victory.

But Josh Inglis (28 off 49) and Steve Smith (30 off 62) combined for a composed 37-run partnership to get the Aussies to within 39 runs of the target. 

Gerald Coetzee dismissed both batters to keep the tension alive. First, Smith skied a full delivery straight up, then Coetzee cleaned up Inglis with a perfectly executed yorker. 

Mitchell Starc (16 off 38) and Cummins (14 off 29) kept their composure to seal the victory despite a near-heroic late spell by Coetzee, who bowled eight overs on the trot.

Poor start 

South Africa elected to stick to their strengths and bat first, despite the overcast overhead conditions and a pitch with some bite. 

It was a miserable first hour of play for South Africa, which saw them four wickets down with 24 runs on the board in the 12th over.

South Africa’s capitulation started in the first over when Starc found Temba Bavuma’s outside edge. Bavuma (zero off four) admitted before the match he was “not 100% fit”.

Australia’s bowlers extracted swing, seam and bounce from the responsive Eden Gardens surface.

Australia conceded only eight runs in the first five overs, two of those coming from extras. Superb fielding by the Australian inner ring helped to build the pressure, with Warner and Labuschagne diving like soccer goalkeepers to prevent anything from getting past them. 

It was effective as Quinton de Kock (three off 14) — playing his final one-day international fixture — tried to hit out of the pressure, but struck a Josh Hazlewood delivery straight up into the air.

The opening bowlers continued their demolition, getting rid of an out-of-sorts Rassie van der Dussen (six off 31) and Aiden Markram (10 off 20).

There was a short rain break after 14 overs and Heinrich Klaasen (47 off 48 and Miller (101 off 116) rebuilt the innings astutely. The pair put on a 95-run partnership to take the score to 119 for six. 

After being hit for consecutive fours, Head dismissed Klaasen and Jansen in consecutive deliveries to stifle the Proteas’ attempted resurgence. 

But Miller continued to strike the ball sweetly despite the turning conditions. He was particularly brutal on the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, Adam Zampa.

Miller struck five sixes and eight fours, with his final six being a brutal pull off Cummins to bring up his century. He was dismissed the following delivery by the Aussie skipper to dampen any hope of South Africa reaching in excess of 230. 

It was another Cricket World Cup semifinal loss for the Proteas. But on this occasion, unlike so many in the past, they showed grit and fight to come within a few small breaks of achieving a historic feat. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    While I admire Temba Bavuma as a player and leader, there was no excuse to play if, as by his own admission, he was “not 100% fit”. Reeza Hendricks has shown that he is a more than competent opener and should have played.

    It is difficult not to imagine yet another political agenda behind Temba playing yesterday.

    • Caroline de Braganza says:

      The same thought struck me.

    • Dee Bee says:

      Absolutely spot on! And I know the coaches have been defending Bavuma, saying he’s been our best batsman over the last 12-18 months, but he’s patently struggled on these Indian pitches and put us on the back foot from the word go.

      That said, the Australian fielding in the first ten overs was some of the best I’ve ever seen. Kudos to Starc and Hazelwood for bowling well, but the Aussie in-fielders cut off 25 to 30 runs in those early overs heaping even more pressure on our top order.

  • andrew farrer says:

    The loss started before we took the field with Bavuma insisting on playing despite being injured and out of form. A really selfish move on his part. He should never have been in the T20 squad for that WC, but his 50 over record is generally pretty good so deserved his spot at this WC. But has now losy the respect i had for him in not putting the team first. QdC’s a bit of a snowflake with little BMT, and losing his opening partner before he scored a run just ramped up the pressure and created the choke. Then, keeping Jansen on for a third over, after he conceeded a 4 and 3 wides in his second was piss poor captaincy. had we been defending 330 or so it would’ve been ok, but he needed to make a decission then and he failed. Kudo’s to the other bowlers, Miller & Klaasen though, herculean effort under the circumstances. Time to change the name from Proteas to Artichokes.

  • Edward Visser says:

    Me thinks Temba should be a team player and be 13th man!

  • I agree with all the prior comments.
    Rule 101 of top level sport. Don’t field a less than 100% fit player.
    Nevermind the fact that Bavuma is woefully out of form.
    Good toss to win. But only if you have the balls and the brains to make the correct decision.
    Politics once again interfering in sport. Dont blaim de Kock…he succumbed to the pressure and in those first 12 overs the ball was doing all kinds of tricks due to the overhead conditions.

    • Bob Dubery says:

      If you are only going to field 100% fit players, most international cricket teams won’t be able to put an XI on the field. Players are always carrying some sort of injury (good example being Atherton, who had chronic back problems, managed with amounts of medication his post-retirement GP declined to prescribe).

      I don’t think we lost because of politics. Our fielding was not up to the same standards as Australia’s. And they made a rapid start to their innings, which reduced the pressure on them and increased the pressure on us. South Africa have been one of the worst teams in the first 10 overs throughout the tournament, and Australia one of the best. So it was again here. Warner went early, sure, but he’d already made quick runs.

  • Ian Gray says:

    Swap Rassie’s and Temba’s performances in this World Cup. Would Rassie have played yesterday? Does Temba’s value as captain (relative to Aidan’s) make up for the decision?

  • Terence Gregory says:

    Agreed. Not only was Themba not 100% (fit by his own admission) and out of form the interviews showed that he was not confident of the victory. The team fought back well but had their hands tied behind their backs by the 3rd over.

    We simply didn’t make the calls which would have one us the game and the captain was not mentally up for it. A few better calls on and off the pitch and we could have been playing India.

    The good part is we didn’t choke, we played to the last ball.

  • George Wolhuter says:

    Well well well. The Preoeas managed to reel me in once again. I dropped them after all the political nonsense. But then they pulled me back in just to spit me out again. Like a bad toxic relationship. I’m hurt. But as all of you have mentioned and noticed – i must place a lot of the blame on Bavuma. Or the management team that persists that Bavuma plays. He is not only in bad form throughout the world cup, but i would say he is a liability. I cannot see that his presence does the team any good on and off the field. His attitude towards himself and the game of cricket is not comparible to that of Siya Kolisi. We needed strong leadership in the India game as well as in the Semi’s. We have an excellent team, but i think their leadership failed them. Heart broken and all i can widh for is that the political slump we are in will sort itself out before the next word cup.

  • TREVOR FOX says:

    The deadliest ball from a fast bowler is the yorker. A ball which, for me, is not bowled often enough. When, Mr.Captain, Warner and Head were on the rampage surely that was the ball to demand – yes demand. The only fast bowler I can recall bowling 6 consecutive yorkers was Fanie de Villiers and that helped South Africa to beat Australia in a test match when the Aussies needed a second innings score of like 110 0r 111 runs. Mr. Bowling coach that is what you need to teach – 6 consecutive yorkers – deadly stuff.

  • Matthew Cocks says:

    Catches win matches…we dropped a few…so…cough…cough.cough!!!

  • Charles Govender says:

    Andrew your comments are spot on. Bavuma was selfish not to put the team first. It does not matter if you are the captain. At the same time, Rob Walter is also disingenious with his support for Bavuma. Yes he was in good form over the past 12 months. But to win the World Cup, you require inform players to step up. Secondly, not only was Bavuma totally out off form, he was also carrying an injury.
    His inclusion in the team, despite failing to impress in the seven games prior the semis, smacks of POLITICS. Rob Walter is sucking up to politicians in his support of an out off form Bavuma, to retain his position.
    I am gatvol of South African cricket, will not support them again.
    The next world will be held in SA, Namibia and Zimbabwe. South Africa already have an excuse for failing there as well…HOME PRESSURE.

  • John Nicolson says:

    Nobody seems to have commented on SA’s fatally low run rate while batting, and not only in this last match. Time after time, we watched top-and-middle order batsmen – yes – including Miller, Coetzee and others, carefully play defensive forward shots to moderately good-length balls, or move to the back foot to block, leaving themselves open to LBW appeals. Against slow bowlers, especially, a class batsman knows how to use his feet to get to the pitch of the ball, turning it into a hittable half-volley. All we need do is to watch the Indians, who adopt an offensive attitude and stance from the first ball during their time at the crease. They obviously plan to score off every possible delivery right from the start of their innings.

  • Wade Swanepoel says:

    The only thing Bavuma has shown this World Cup is

    1. He is not a reliable batsman.
    2. He doesn’t have the capability to even set his field the correct way.
    3. He is too concerned about his ego to just step back and allow others a chance.
    4. He definitely puts himself before the team.
    5. Terrible choices when winning the toss (especially with regards to allowing Aus to bowl first, as well as the Netherlands game)
    6. He is a product of the politics within CSA.
    7. He is extremely out of touch with reality, this is also shown through the coaches and CSA who constantly give him praise.

    CSA and Bavuma should learn from the springboks and Rassie that no individual is bigger than the team. And sometimes the best decision for the greater good, out weighs the needs of the individual.

  • Jeff Lawson says:

    If Temba was not fit and considering his poor form, he should have deferred to Reeza – another 30 runs up front and we would have won. Team should always come first.

  • Andre Swart says:

    Perhaps there was more money offered for loosing than for winning … perhaps another Hansie manouvre?

  • Colin Louw says:

    It is most regrettable but at the end of the day the stats do not lie. Bavuma is in the team for only one reason and that is not his captaincy skills, nor his batting skills, nor his fielding skills. He is woefully short (no pun intended) in all of these areas. Reeza should be in his place and at least then we will get those extra runs. Aiden has shown himself to be a captain and apart from one glaring fault of being white will do a better job than Bavuma. He blew the match in 3 clear areas – the first was the decision to bat first, the second when he allowed an obviously out of sorts Jansen to continue bowling, and finally he screwed up the field placing. I just wish that they would take the stupid politics and stick it up in a dark wet place.

  • Christopher Lang says:

    Sorry, South Africa, but you cannot blame this shocking loss on any one player. That’s damn unfair! The game was lost when we won the toss and elected to bat first. Those Aussie bowlers were unplayable for the first hour or so! Perhaps QdC also was a bit impatient under those conditions. I see there was criticism about the low run rate in the early stages of the match, but those critics obviously don’t know much about cricket pitches. There are times one cannot just come out with guns blazing. That’s suicide!
    The team management should have identified the slow pitch with lots of bite and elected to bowl first, even though we always do better batting first. It was just not the right wicket to bat first.

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