Pat Symcox on why Proteas' World Cup flopped

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Jul 12, 2019, 11:52

Cape Town - Former South African spinner Pat Symcox believes the Proteas made "some tactical mistakes" in the build-up to their Cricket World Cup campaign.

It was another World Cup disappointment for the Proteas, who won just three of their nine games to finish a lowly seventh on the 10-team ladder.

Speaking exclusively to Sport24 on Wednesday, Symcox said he had doubts whether Cricket South Africa's decision to appoint a foreign coach in Ottis Gibson was the right one.

"You appoint a coach and he's got 18 months to create a culture... do a whole lot of things in preparation for the World Cup. And I'm not sure that there's enough time to build a culture in South African cricket 18 months before a World Cup," Symcox said.

"The guy is a total outsider... and we've got a very diverse team... there's religious divides, racial divides, there's English and Afrikaans... it's a very tough thing to unite a team in a very short space of time. At the end of the World Cup, Ottis was saying he now fully realises how important the World Cup was. So maybe we didn't do that job properly..."

Gibson, a former West Indies paceman, was England's bowling coach before taking the South African head coaching job in August 2017.

Symcox continued: "I'm not knocking him as a coach... I know how good he is, I played with him (at Griquas) and was his captain at one stage.

"He was a great bowler and he did all the right things. He's had coaching experience as a bowling coach. But building a culture in a team is a totally different aspect to teaching a guy how to bowl to off-stump on a length."

Prior to the World Cup, the Proteas had placed great emphasis on their fast-bowling arsenal, but encountered problems at the showpiece event in England.

Dale Steyn was injured and never played a game, Anrich Nortje withdrew with injury before the team departed, while there was also ongoing concern over the fitness of Lungi Ngidi.

"I interviewed Faf (du Plessis, SA captain) two months before the World Cup and he clearly was of the opinion that because we dominated with our batting at past World Cups - and it didn't work out - they wanted to go down the road of dominating with their bowling at the World Cup.

"(But) if you go into the World Cup without two of your major bowlers… you're really heading up the creek without a paddle. When you look back at it… was it a realistic expectation for Dale Steyn, who had bowled something like eight overs in two months prior, to come straight into this team and play every single game?" Symcox questioned.

According to Symcox, having a fit squad was imperative as teams could not afford to rest players during the World Cup.

"Let’s face it, at this World Cup there were no passenger teams, every game was critical. It's not like in the old days where we played the United Arab Emirates... Bangladesh in the old days was an easy team to beat… with Sri Lanka you had no problem. I remember in one World Cup we didn't even worry about England.  

"But now every team can beat you. There's no game where you can just rest two or three of your fast bowlers and play some backups. Every bowler had to be on top of his game for eight games in a row. We know Ngidi was underdone..."

The team's planning was "clearly a problem" for Symcox.

"When I saw that the backup bowler that came in for Dale Steyn (Beuran Hendricks) was still in South Africa, I asked myself the question: 'Surely you would plan to have your backup bowler, and a backup batsman, playing club cricket in England during the build-up to the World Cup?'.

"So there are little things that point me in a direction that says we made some tactical mistakes on the way into the World Cup. And then, of course, when we got there as well…"

The South African top-order also did not fire, with Faf du Plessis' 100 in the final game against Australia the only three-figure score.

"Hashim (Amla) has been in bad form for two years," Symcox noted.

The former off-spinner added that, while the best available players may have been picked for the World Cup, questions needed to be asked why players coming through the South African domestic system were not performing on the biggest stage.

"At the end of the day, we're pushing out a product that - at the moment - is not competitive in the marketplace. It's not sellable, not good enough.

"The factory that's pushing out the end product is not performing. So you've got to go back to the factory and say 'guys, we've got a problem here'. We're not pushing out the quality to create a product that is No 1 in the world."

Those problems may lie at domestic level, Symcox hinted.

"The system is a bit weaker and maybe our coaching is not as strong... would any of the domestic coaches be able to walk straight into the national coaching system? I'm not sure that's the case. Maybe Mark Boucher, but for the rest I'm not sure…"

Jul 12, 2019, 12:49

What has any of this got to do with pigeons?

Jul 12, 2019, 12:56

Part of the general malaise. Where exactly is the New SA succeeding.

Jul 12, 2019, 14:58


Van der Dussen.




De Kock.





Tahir. ......

Semi Final guaranteed.

Jul 13, 2019, 00:45

Can't say I'm buying.

Jul 13, 2019, 03:28

Each to their own Denny. But what part of steadier openers, a more explosive middle order and bowling experience doesn't appeal?

Jul 13, 2019, 12:25

Amla batting at less than 4 runs an over is the ideal opener - strike rate is of no importance and the fact is he was piss poor in most matches he played in.   That is what one calls idiot thinking. Symcox said Amla was poor in ODIs now for two years - but Mozart will not accept facts and  carries on with his BS.

And AB I out of contention - but Mozart keeps on with him.   Is he totally distorted in that top storey? 

The general idea is to get better - not worse.   Amla is finished on international level - we need to look at other players and a number of those were mentioned elsewhere on site.

When will this reputation nonsense stop and players selected on merit?


Jul 14, 2019, 06:00

Who said anything about the future 'semi final guaranteed', clearly is a commentary on the team we should have chosen.

Jul 14, 2019, 10:23

Sure - we chose Amla who failed badly in 5 of the seven matches he played in and whose strike rate was totally ineffective in two cases where he did make runs at an unacceptable strike rate,   The Aussies would also have beaten us if Amla did play.   .

Jul 15, 2019, 01:58

But as I proved de Ock had more negative games than Amla, even excluding his WC exiting non call on Williamson.

Jul 15, 2019, 10:37

On what basis BSter?   You claim he did and lied about performance and you are even too ignorant to look at strike rate where De Koock was way over 80 - while Amla was under 65/  That prove you are BSting again.

Every newspaper - every expert - said De Kock was not up to his normal standard and everyone say Amla was deficient - but you said the contrary, so must we become foolish like you? 

Jul 17, 2019, 03:41

Higher strike rate.....lower average....more failures in big games by de Ock.

Jul 17, 2019, 07:14


So England, New Zealand and all other matches lost by the Proteas were not key matches?  The average is worked out that way because Amla was fiddling around in low scoring matches and not out in 2 was technically increase his average because they are not counted in official matches.  Fact is with 7 matches actually played his average was 29.   That is realized by everybody but you as exceptionally poor at a strike rate of 64,5 it is a disaster.    

Dream on - you are never realistic anyway.  

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