For the third time in as many tournaments, New Zealand have effectively ended the Proteas’ charge for a maiden Cricket World Cup crown, and coach Ottis Gibson has been left perplexed by the horrid turn of form which that has befallen his charges.
In six matches so far in the tournament, the Proteas boast just one victory – against minnows Afghanistan – and are eighth in the points table, with almost no chance of securing a semifinal spot.
This is a far cry from their form leading up to the tournament, where they won their last five bilateral ODI series, including two away from home before losing only twice in 10 matches in the home summer.
Speaking after falling victim to the Kane Williamson-inspired Black Caps, Gibson could not put his finger on why the men in green have been able to carry their winning momentum to the World Cup.
“I can’t speak of past World Cups, but certainly in this World Cup it seems like guys have been sort of hampered,” he is quoted by ESPNCricinfo.
“That’s probably the only word that comes to mind at the moment. You saw the way we played in past series. We play very well in bilateral cricket. We won eight of 10 games before we came here. But we haven’t been able to do it here, and that’s something I need to sit down and work out.
“We’ve spoken that language of being positive and aggressive and taking the game forward for a long time. To see, when we come to this stage, guys go into their shell a bit, is a little bit surprising, to be honest. I keep going back to the way we played in Sri Lanka, when we won the series there last year. There was a lot of talk about us not being able to play spin. We got 300 in one game and guys played with a lot of freedom. We came to the World Cup and we’ve not been able to reach those heights.”
The Proteas have three matches remaining, starting on Sunday against Pakistan at Lord’s before rounding off their tournament with dates against Sri Lanka and Australia.