South Africa are “obviously chuffed” to have qualified directly for the men’s ODI World Cup, to be played in India later this year, after spending the bulk of the World Cup Super League outside of the top eight. And they have the weather in Chelmsford to thank for it.
With the no-result in the first of three ODIs between Ireland and Bangladesh on Tuesday, even if Ireland go on to claim the series, they cannot surpass South Africa in eighth place on the Super League points table. Ireland are guaranteed a ninth-place finish, though, and will compete in the ten-team qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe, which runs from June 18 to July 9, and also includes former world champions West Indies and Sri Lanka.
“We’re obviously chuffed to qualify directly because it makes life a lot simpler not having to go through the qualifying tournament,” Rob Walter, South Africa’s white-ball coach, told ESPNcricinfo. “But there would have been an upside to competing in the qualifier given the very quiet winter we have.”
South Africa returned empty-handed from both, but neither format mattered as much as ODIs. They started the year in 11th place on the Super League standings – well outside the automatic qualification zone – after series losses to Pakistan (2021 – home), Sri Lanka (2021 – away) and Bangladesh (2022 – home) and forfeiting a series in Australia (scheduled for January 2023) to allow their top cricketers to be available for the inaugural SA20 league.
South Africa gave themselves the best chance of progressing to the World Cup with series wins over England and Netherlands, which lifted them into No. 8, but the final outcome was not in their hands, as they waited for the Ireland vs Bangladesh matches to take place.
Planning for World Cup already on, Rob Walter confirms
Walter confirmed that Cricket South Africa had put in place “two plans based on either eventuality” to execute: one if a trip to Zimbabwe was necessary, and another if South Africa held on to eighth place. The first of those would have necessitated Walter’s return from his home in New Zealand earlier than planned and seen a return to action for top players shortly after the end of the IPL on May 28. Now, they will only be called on later in the winter. The second plan has already begun, with a camp at the high-performance centre in Pretoria from Tuesday.
“What we have now is the chance to spend some quality time outside of competition getting ourselves ready for a marquee event,” Walter said. “We have a number of camps planned throughout the winter in the lead up to the Australia series which obviously forms our final preparation for the World Cup. There is also the ‘A’ side tour to Sri Lanka, so we have tried to ensure significant skill development opportunities and time in the middle from a competitive point of view.”
“All players have an individual analysis highlighting strengths and specific areas of focus in the period,” Walter said. “This is all planned alongside our players’ involvement in the different leagues that continue on through the winter.”