Taskin Ahmed, the lanky quick bowler from Bangladesh brings a lot of promise for Bangladesh. His ability to bowl quick and extract disconcerting bounce is seen as an encouraging prospect for a team which has traditionally been dependent on left- arm spinners. So, it was heart breaking to see him teary-eyed in front of Bangladeshi Media, after he was left out of the National team for the 2019 Cricket World Cup played in England. It shattered the world of a youngster who had been looking forward to display his skills on the biggest stage in helpful conditions.
He is not at all akin to a Tragic Hero, worthy of pity and grace.
In fact, in the third and final ODI match against South Africa in March 2022, he bowled with pace and fire. His figures of 5/35 provided cathartic relief to Taskin and his supporters. Not only did he pick up 5 wickets as an overseas bowler, an exceptional feat but also answered his critics in style. Most importantly, it helped Bangladesh win a historic series against the Proteas.
Amidst Bangladesh’s superb series victory, lay a can of worms for South Africa, who had been beaten in their own game by unfancied opponents. The all pervading gloom in South African Cricket deepened further following the debacle surrounding Mark Boucher, the National Coach and the absence of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje,Aiden Markram and Rassie Van Der Dussen for the subsequent Test Series against Bangladesh which led to scathing criticism as the players preferred playing for Indian franchises in the IPL.
But, things are not looking so bleak for the Proteas especially after winning a T20 series against the mighty England in their own backyard, and drawing the T20 series against a full- strength Indian Team.
It is inconceivable to imagine the beginning of any marquee tournament, without mentioning the name of South Africa as a potential favourite or their frailties in crunch situations. In fact, the silence surrounding South Africa can work wonders to a team that has found the right personnel and are doing the right things quietly. The absence of any pressure or expectation may provide South Africa with the freedom that can do wonders in the T20 World Cup to be played in Australia.
In fact, robust Cricketing logic also points out to the fact that they may have the right ammunition to shock the world at the T20 World Cup. It is strange to note that, powerful teams like India and England don’t trust their Test Bowlers to take up duties in the shortest form of the game. Interestingly, they feel the need to rely on bowlers who are considered to be T20 specialists. But, the core group of South African bowling will comprise Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngudi, all proven Test specialists. The hard lengths bowled by these bowlers will definitely be conducive on Australian pitches.
Additionally, the presence of Tabraiz Shamsi, who looks fitter and hungry to perform, provides them with an added advantage for the showpiece event to be held down under. Reeza Hendricks, David Miller and Aiden Markram are all part of the T20 revival, wherein they are playing with authority to score 190- 200 runs regularly while batting first and even chasing them down with utmost ease. Hendricks’ back-to-back Man of the Series Awards against England and Ireland will make him an absolute certainty in the Playing XI.
The presence of big- hitters like Tristan Stubbs, Heinrich Klaasen and Rilee Rossouw have bolstered the middle order. They narrowly missed out on a semi-final spot in the T20 World Cup played in the UAE, where the pitches were low and slow. But, on hard and good batting wickets in Australia, things could be different. And with the presence of Quinton de Kock at the top of the order, South Africa cannot be taken lightly at any cost.
Only if, the off- field matters are sorted out, the Cricketing world could witness a solid performance by South Africa in the T20 World Cup, which may bring back the glorious memories of the 90s, where South Africa was blessed with some supremely talented Cricketers.
Come on, South Africa!
It’s about time the world rejoiced at a World Title won by South Africa, with the ‘rainbow’ of victory assuaging many hidden wounds from the past.