The edentulous top order is the final drop of Proteas



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Birmingham – o Proteas, almost certainly outside the 2019 World Cup, will do a lot of soul searching in the days and weeks that follow.

Wednesday's fourth loss to New Zealand at Edgbaston means that Faf du Plessis and his men have lost four their six matches in the tournament. There has been an "insignificant result" against the West Indies, while a victory over low Afghanistan is all that the South Africans have to show for their efforts so far in England.

It is, very easily, South Africa's worst performance in a Cricket World Cup.

The anger coming from home is something that Du Plessis anticipates and understands, but the defenders of this team will want answers.

Where did everything go wrong?

South Africa never entered the competition as favorites, but they were still very keen to make a semi-final and certainly should not fight as much as they did.

The injuries were obviously disturbing but did not justify the performances that have been distributed in the last three weeks.

The entire Proteas pre-tournament conversation focused on his quick bowling attack. That would be his main weapon and, according to Du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson, was his ticket to the World Cup final.

What they did not expect, however, was that the hitter was so toothless when it mattered most.

Since opening the tournament against England at The Oval on 30 May, the South African top flight has failed to convert encouraging games into substance inlets.

Kock's Quinton's 68 pair against England and Afghanistan is still the highest score of a Proteas beater in the tournament.

When they needed a player to get up and post a game-changing score, the Proteas had no one answer the call.

Rassie van der Dussen's 67 * (64) on Wednesday were almost as good as any South African played in the tournament, but there was no one left for South Africa the day they made any changes to the game.

Hashim Amla (55 in 83), Faf du Plessis (23 in 35), Aiden Markram (38 in 55) and David Miller (36 in 37) threatened to put the Proteas in command position, but none succeeded.

241/6 after 49 overs was all that the Proteas could muster, and in response to New Zealand illustrated the value of having a big-situation player in the form of captain Kane Williamson who made 106 * (138) to take home .

When the dust falls, the ineptitude of the scouts to post significant totals will come as one of the most glaring reasons for South Africa's early exit in 2019.

"If you look at our batting unit, we have some future talents and some promising players, but if you put our first six against the other six best in the world, purely from the point of view of numbers, we will not be in the top three in relation to that, "Du Plessis acknowledged in Birmingham after Wednesday's devastating defeat.

"It's just pure numbers on the board.

"If you look at the opposition, there have been great races marked by batting ranks.

"We have a fairly new batter lineup if you take Rassie, Aiden, guys like that, to Andile to some extent. He's doing great at his cricket, but he's young in terms of putting shifts together."

"So we're not as experienced as the other teams when it comes to this, but the reason I say we're not as good as the other teams is that we're not producing scores or turns that can win their games." "

A look at how the South African scouts came individually at the World Cup shows a clear picture of what Du Plessis is talking about.

Average battles Proteins and higher scores in CWC 2019:

Rassie van der Dussen – 60.00; 67 *

Quinton de Kock – 38.20; 68

David Miller – 35.00; 38

Faf du Plessis – 32.00; 62

Hashim Amla – 30.25; 55

Aiden Markram – 24.75; 45

JP Duminy – 18.66; 45

The Proteas must somehow choose a confrontation against Pakistan on Sunday, in what is effectively a dead rubber.

@LoydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 …

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