Bengaluru, June 21: The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 has been an eminently forgettable one for South Africa so far.
Ever since South Africa made their World Cup debut in 1992, they have only returned with empty hands and broken hearts.
Be it their luck or inefficiency, the South Africans could never scale the peak their followers always dreamed of. In 2019, the Proteas retried but this time, they didn't fire at all.
A disappointment of the 'World Cup proportion' is never easy to overcome. Teams have their low and high phases over the years and decades.
But South Africa's show at the World Cup has remained somewhat static, irrespective of the teams they have fielded. Hansie Cronje was their best captain who could have given them their ultimate success but Brian Lara and Allan Donald had dashed his hopes in 1996 and 1999, respectively.
In 2003, they had the home conditions to capitalise on, but a wrong communication to the batsmen in the middle saw them getting booted out of the tournament. The list is endless and SA haven't found a way to plug the loopholes.
In 2019, the South African team that has gone to England to play the tournament is a mediocre one. The squad has quite a few ageing players while all the youngsters don't yet have their place in the side cemented. The choice of Dale Steyn backfired big time as the 36-year-old was always prone to weakness and the Proteas shouldn't have taken the gamble. It is true that SA didn't have a worthy alternative since injury and talent drain have plagued their cricket of late. But again, that is where the cricket administration has a role to play.
While England started their preparation for the 2019 edition just after crashing out of the 2015 tournament and the result is seen, SA's current coach Ottis Gibson joined the job in 2017 and had just two years to put things in place. But when he himself expressed shock over the performance of his team's players in this World Cup, it was clear that the problem is far too big than what is perceived. Losing the home series 1-5 to India last year was a major warning to the Proteas about their ODI future but yet in over a year's time, they couldn't find a solution.
South Africa need to find an immediate replacement for Faf du Plessis, an ageing captain himself. It will be a difficult job for the selectors but they themselves had done it in the past when a devastated Shaun Pollock gave way to a very young Graeme Smith after the 2003 fiasco. Smith had gone on to lead his country for a long, long time even though he too could not give them the trophy.
However, SA can at least try. That's the only thing that they can control.