Maybe it’s the nature of the tournament – for all the action, T20 is still a new event and the World competition lacks the historic narrative of its 50-over cousin.
The lack of excitement can also be explained by the wretched season the South African teams have endured.
Test series losses in India and against England have left many questions about the structures Cricket South Africa have in place and that transformation initiatives implemented at domestic level have been too harsh.
Maybe it’s just down to wariness – a case of been here, seen it, they’ll be back after the semi-finals.
The players and coaches must look forward, of course. It is as they continually point to another opportunity.
Their recent performances in ICC events have been solid – two semi-final appearances and in both instances they didn’t throw the game away through any sort of self-imposed meltdown.
The nature of T20 means that form going into the tournament – South Africa start on March 18 in Mumbai when they face England (again) – means very little.
The series wins in Bangladesh and India last year were nice, but in the context of the World T20, largely meaningless.
The same could be said for the five matches South Africa will play prior to their departure for India – two against England and three against Australia.
There are combinations they’d like to try out – the opening duo will be an interesting one to watch, while the return of Dale Steyn adds experience and class to the bowling unit.
Do they use one or both of David Wiese and Chris Morris in the starting line-up?
Certainly the inclusion of both along with JP Duminy, and to a lesser extent Farhaan Behardien, gives South Africa some depth with the all-rounders which is in keeping with a trend many
other teams at the tournament are following.
“It’s becoming more prevalent with teams in ODI and T20 cricket… you look at Australia, they bat a long way down, England have Adil Rashid at 10 and he’s got 10 first class hundreds,” said South Africa coach Russell Domingo.
“All-rounders are massively important, South Africa had anabundance in the past, and it’s something we are trying to come to grips with now, to find the right guys to fill that role.
“Batting depth, versatile players, bowlers, players that can provide more than one skill is of paramount importance.
“You can have the odd specialist, a Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel, Imran Tahir, outstanding players and good at their skills but if guys aren’t as good as those guys they have to provide you with something else,” said Russell Domingo.
Captain Faf du Plessis likes the balance of the team and the options available to him, and in that regard there is reason for optimism.
Sure, the likes of the Morkel brothers can count themselves as unfortunate, as can spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, but Du Plessis and Russell Domingo have built this squad over the last year and the players selected have performed when demanded.
Now it’s time to find out whether they can do it in the high pressure environment of tournament play.
South Africa have been close recently, those two defeats – one to India in the last World T20 semi-final and the loss to New Zealand in the 50-over competition last year – highlighting, according to Domingo, that they’d got over the anxiety of playing in big matches.
“We can’t do any worse than other sides that have gone before; we’ve been to two World Cups since I’ve been involved and both times we got to the semi-finals,” said Domingo.
“We’ve won a knockout game, we’ve played really good cricket in those knockout games; we played an outstanding game against New Zealand last year, but it didn’t go for us.
“Against India, we played a good game, got 175 and Virat Kohli played an outstanding innings.
“So sometimes you must just take your hat off to the opposition. Both semis we’ve lost have been a case of that.
“There’s not been choking on our part, we’ve been outplayed on the day by a team that played
– THE SUNDAY INDEPENDENT
SA coach Russell Domingo faces a tricky balancing act but it’s time to go beyond the semis.
Original source: Domingo’s world T20 optimism