Proteas set to make it third time lucky against the Aussies!

South Africa have lost both of their World Cup semi-finals against Australia (well, actually, they tied the first, but Australia went through to the final based on their Super Sixes win over the Proteas), so some might say “third time lucky”. That’s not the most scientific method of evaluating your side’s chances, so let’s look at the stats.

South Africa leads Australia in one-day wins

The Proteas have played 109 ODIs against Australia, South Africa winning 55 matches to Australia’s 50 wins. There was one abandoned match… and the sides have tied an astonishing THREE times!

Australia ARE NOT our World Cup bogey side

Sure, we feel like we lost the 1999 semi-final in heart-breaking fashion to the Aussies… but we actually tied that match. Australia went through because they beat us in the Super Sixes… the match when Herschelle Gibbs dropped Steve Waugh and the World Cup in one disastrous moment (which Shane Warne had ironically predicted might happen). 

But remember that we hammered them by NINE wickets in our first-ever World Cup match back in 1992, which shocked the reigning champions and played a role in their abysmal performance in that tournament.

Let’s tally things up, though: we have played seven matches against Australia in the World Cup… one match ended in a tie… Australia won three matches… and the Proteas won three. Sounds like we’re actually pretty even going head-to-head with Australia in the World Cup! 

But hang on a tick… if we’re looking at recent form, then South Africa has won the last two World Cup matches against Australia: the group match in 2019 and this year’s group match, which was a 134-run win. 

We also finished ABOVE Australia on the points table his year thanks to a superior net run rate, so we have plenty of reason to be confident.

Perhaps Australia have more to worry about in terms of this match-up than the Proteas!

South Africa can work magic too

Australia have a reputation for being a tough opponent, especially under pressure, but South Africa are equally a tough nut to crack – when we get our stuff together. One of the greatest ODIs ever saw Australia hammer a then world record 434/4 off their 50 overs in the 5th ODI at the Wanderers. 

Rather than wilting, the Proteas looked at the scoreboard and in the team meeting they agreed that, “if Australia can score 434 on this pitch, then so can we!” And they did, winning a thrilling match by one wicket with one ball to spare. 

Oh, and for added drama… the win also clinched the series 3-2 for South Africa. But they want to call us chokers?

Reminder: we won that match… by chasing!

Look at the numbers

When it comes to big scoring, South Africa are the kings of one-day cricket. Of the top 10 highest ODI scores of all time, South Africa have racked up FIVE of those scores. That’s HALF! 

Australia? Just the one score in the top 10… that was the 434 they scored before we beat them!

Oh, and our overall records? While Australia have played 300-plus games more than South Africa, our win percentage is actually greater than theirs. Yes, they have won the World Cup five times, but their ODI win percentage is 60.7%… the Proteas have a win percentage of 63.66%. 

You know, I’m starting to think that the Proteas are not as bad as people keep trying to convince us that they are!

Look at the form book

This has been a high-scoring World Cup, and Australia seem to have captured the headlines with some exciting, big scores. However, South Africa have the highest team score in the tournament (428/5 vs Sri Lanka), and two of the top five highest scores (the 428/5 vs Sri Lanka, and 399/7 vs England). Australia have just one score in the top five, their 399/8 against lowly Netherlands.

Australia have the biggest winning margin (309 runs against… the Netherlands), but South Africa crushed the reigning champs England and the 2019 beaten finalists New Zealand by 229 runs and 190 runs respectively – really impressive wins. South Africa also have two of the top five biggest win margins (i.t.o runs) to their credit, while Australia have just one.

Australia have the leading wicket-taker (Adam Zampa, 22 wickets), but South Africa have TWO bowlers in the top five wicket-takers: Gerald Coetzee (18) and Marco Jansen (17). 

Both sides have one player in the top 5 run-scorers… Quinton de Kock is in 2nd place on 591 runs, while David Warner is down in fifth place on 499 runs.

De Kock leads the 100s list with four tons. Australia have three players with two centuries each (Maxwell, Marsh and Warner) and South Africa have one player who has scored two tons (Van der Dussen). Australia have Head on one century, but South Africa have Markram and Klaasen each with one ton.

Hitting big numbers in the middle

Australia have racked up some big scores in this Cup, but our top six has outscored the Aussie Top 6 in four of the six batting positions, with two exceptions: Maxwell has one run more than Markram, and Smith has 13 runs more than Miller.

Above average batting

South Africa have three players with career ODI averages higher than Australia’s top batter, David Warner (45.66). We also have six players averaging above 39, while Australia have only three in that range.

Australia’s batters are good at individually rising to the occasion and racking up a big individual score to pull off a win, but they have been struggling as a unit over the past year and have lacked consistency as a top six. 

What does the semi-final hold?

Anything is possible on the day, but hopefully these stats and facts will give South African fans a massive confidence boost that we have what it takes to finally make it through to a World Cup final… with only Australia standing in our way. The toss will help, as will Bavuma turning a good start into big runs, but this could be South Africa’s year, and what better time to clinch it than a month after the Rugby World Cup… and quite possibly against New Zealand again! 

Good news is that If the semi-final against Australia is rained-out, South Africa will go through based on finishing higher in the Group table. Be sure to tell the Aussies!

All things considered, I think South Africans are in for tears again at the World Cup… but this year I think it will be tears of joy!