Former England fast bowler Steve Harmison reckons that off-field issues may have distracted South Africa’s campaign in the T20 World Cup 2021 to an extent. However, he praised the Proteas unit for putting their problems behind them and coming up with impactful performances.
South Africa crashed out of the T20 World Cup on Saturday despite defeating England by 10 runs in Sharjah. The team found itself at the centre of a major controversy after Quinton de Kock refused to take a knee and pulled out of the match against West Indies. He later apologized and joined his teammates in taking a knee.
Reflecting on South Africa’s decent campaign in the ICC event, Harmison told ESPN Cricinfo:
“They had a huge blow at the top with what happened with the off-field stuff. It rocked them a little.”
The 43-year-old admitted that South Africa’s inability to finish off the chase of 85 against Bangladesh quickly hurt them in the final run. Harmison stated:
“If they had their time again against Bangladesh, they might have gone differently. Australia had seen what had happened with South Africa against Bangladesh. They knew the net run rate was going to be the key to qualifying for the semi-finals. South Africa did not have superstars like Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers. They did reasonably well with the squad they had. It is something for them to build on.”
Former Australian all-rounder Tom Moody shared similar sentiments. He echoed that while South Africa might feel hard done by, having lost only one of their five games, they let the opportunity that came their way slip. Moody elaborated:
“South Africa will feel robbed. To win four out of five is a great achievement and not to be playing semis is a massive setback. It highlights how important every aspect of winning is. They will look back at the Bangladesh game, it took them nearly 14 overs to chase down 85. Australia chased down a similar total in the 7th over. That’s the difference between them playing the semis and not.”
South Africa cleaned up Bangladesh for 84 in 18.2 overs in Abu Dhabi. However, they lost four wickets in the chase and eventually needed 13.3 overs to get past the target.
“The team that beats South Africa more often than not is South Africa” – Steve Harmison
Following their exit from the T20 World Cup 2021, South Africa walked away from yet another ICC event without capturing the crown. Asked if the Proteas could pose a bigger challenge during the next T20 World Cup in Australia next year, Harmison had an interesting response. He commented:
“South Africa will be a force in Australia if this group sticks together. But there is no guarantee of that. Politics (often) comes into South African cricket. So every time they go one forward, sometimes they go two back. The team that beats South Africa more often than not is South Africa. So, fingers crossed.”
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South Africa ended the Super 12 round of the T20 World Cup 2021 equal on points with England and Australia. They lost out on a place in the semis due to their inferior net run rate.