I’ve no doubt that South Africa will win an ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, it’s just a matter of when, and it could be this year. It would mean a lot to the country to finally win one, especially because it is the pinnacle of cricket and we are such a major sporting nation. We saw what winning the Rugby World Cup in 1995 did to South Africa, so it’d be nice if cricket could contribute something similar and we could bring the trophy back.
The one thing you do want to do as a player is win a World Cup, so when I look back on my own career – it’s mixed emotions. I’m disappointed not to have been part of a team that won it and the side that we had in 1999 when we lost to Australia in the semifinals is probably the one we look back at and say ‘that’s the one we should have won.’ It was the one that got away.
That hurts but conversely, I feel really fortunate to have played in so many World Cups. There are not many guys who can say they’ve appeared in five World Cups like I have – I feel lucky.
Of course, you’re aware of the ‘chokers’ tag the team is labelled with after losing in four semifinals but I think the media make a bigger deal of South Africa not having won a World Cup than the players do.
The players don’t worry too much about it. You realise that when you play international sport if things don’t go well for you then you are going to catch some criticism – that’s fair enough.
From a personal point of view, I never read too much media and maybe the outside noise affected one or two guys but it certainly didn’t bother the majority of us. Most people don’t give the current team too much of a chance going into this World Cup, which might suit South Africa.
It’s probably one of the first times they’ve gone into a tournament not widely expected to win it, which should relax the guys and allow them to play with freedom.
To be clear, they are most definitely more than capable of winning this World Cup though. They’ve got some worldclass players and when they do get it together and play some good cricket, they’re capable of beating anyone in the world.
In a way they’re almost a darkhorse side of this World Cup and every team should be very wary of them. I think the senior players – the guys that are probably going into their last World Cup such as Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, and Imran Tahir – might find a little bit extra.
I know from experience that you do find something extra when it’s your last opportunity and that could motivate the younger guys as well.
If you look at the history of these big tournaments, it’s the senior players who really need to put their hand up and come through.
They need to be leading from the front – hopefully, they will do that and then you have a couple of youngsters who can play with freedom and contribute. That’s the recipe for a successful World Cup.