Cricket World Cup: Which team will your shirt be on? A nation by nation guide to the Cricket World Cup - South Africa

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The Independent Online
VERDICT: It is difficult to avoid making them favourites. The bookmakers and the fans are in unison - South Africa appear to have it all. Although they were taken to the wire by New Zealand in a recent one- day series, the fact is they won it. Since the last World Cup, their form has been consistently impressive, and last autumn they won both the Commonwealth Games and the mini-World Cup in Bangladesh. They have a strong-minded, multi-talented, well-balanced team full of class all-rounders equipped to do well on all surfaces, not least English ones, and they are propelled by the best and most innovative coach around. A final spot awaits. They will then take some stopping.

EMERGING HERO: Perhaps their greatest weakness in all forms of cricket has been the struggle to find a secure opening partner for Gary Kirsten. Herschelle Gibbs appears to have ended the search. He has made his mark in Tests with a double century and this tournament could see him reach maturity as a brutally appealing batsman in the first 15 overs.

ACHILLES' HEEL: All is not as cosy as it might seem in the camp. There are divisions and debate at home about the make-up of the side which only winning will dissipate. That need may overwhelm them.

HISTORICAL POINT: In their first World Cup in 1992 they appeared in one of the tournament's most controversial matches when, after a brief rain interruption, the scoring system meant they went from needing 22 off 13 balls to needing 21 off one against England in the semi-final. They failed.

SILLY POINT: South Africa might never have won the World Cup but they have the best record a win ratio of 66.6 per cent.

RECORD: 1992 semi-final; 1996 quarter-final.

SQUAD: W J Cronje (capt), S M Pollock, D M Benkenstein, N Boje, M V Boucher, D N Crookes, D J Cullinan, A A Donald, S Elworthy, H H Gibbs, J H Kallis, G Kirsten, L Klusener, A C Dawson, J N Rhodes.

ODDS: 5-2 fav.

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