Editorial: SA hoping Proteas emerge champions

After experiencing heartache in countless international cricket tournaments, the Proteas are hoping the ICC Champions Trophy will end their drought at the top level.

There is every reason for the Proteas to feel optimistic ahead of the event which starts in England and Wales tomorrow.

With the talented AB de Villiers at the helm, the Proteas will field a team with sufficient depth to go all the way. But, if they are to emerge triumphant in the final at The Oval in London, they will have to shed their ever-present chokers’ tag.

De Villiers’s men are in a tough group alongside India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, so there will be no room for slip-ups with only the top two teams going through to the semifinals.

Matches will be played at The Oval, Edgbaston in Birmingham and Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.

This will be the eighth edition of the tournament featuring the top eight teams in the ICC ODI rankings.

The short and intense nature of the tournament makes it such that there will be high stakes on the outcome of every match with every showdown being crucial.

This looks like it could be the most competitive Champions Trophy of all time with little to choose between the sides.

Cricket officials have noted that teams have adopted a more aggressive and fearless approach to the 50-over game which has helped to narrow the chasm between teams.

Without wanting to denigrate the Champions Trophy, it will be a sort of dress rehearsal for the World Cup which will also be held in England along with Wales in 2019.

It is expected that the next generation of super stars will be on view and making their debuts on the world stage.

As we saw in the recentlycompleted series against England, South Africa may not have completely worked out their combinations.

But the bottom line is that for South Africa to succeed, our white ball heroes will have to be successful.

De Villiers, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir will feel the weight of expectation as they attempt to help their team bring home silverware in what may prove to be Russell Domingo’s final tour as head coach.

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