Exit interviews: South Africa, Afghanistan, India and Namibia

Looking at the latest four teams to head home early.

We are saying goodbye to four more teams, so as always I take a look at what that means for the early leavers.

South Africa

Let's be clear, at one point, South Africa were looking like their second-best player might never play for them again, and they might as well head home.

They didn't look like they were going to do much damage anyway. They were always a lopsided team. Four top-quality bowlers, and so few teams could hang with them on that level. Kagiso Radaba and Anrich Nortje have shown they are next level wicket-takers. Nortje is also very hard to hit.  Shamsi will take wickets and cause problems in the middle. And Maharaj has never gone for runs in T20.

The problem was at all rounder.  But Dwaine Pretorius had a great tournament. Despite bowling at the death, his econ was under seven, and he took wickets. Some of it was random, like his back of the hand slower ball half trackers. And right now his international numbers are better than his domestic, which suggests a bit of a small sample size, but him coming good means South Africa have a great T20 bowling attack. It also means that they have four bowlers who cannot bat. Pretorious may or may not be around for the next World Cup, but the other four bowlers will be. So this could be a long term problem in the future.

And this affects how they go about their innings. You'll hear many analysts talking about how little numbers seven and eight bat in T20. But what happens when you have weaker batting in these spots, your top three slow down. They play safe, they play themselves in and hope to catch up at the death.

If you have seen South Africa play, you will know this is what they do.  Even though their batting never quite got going, they still ended up with a 4-1 record.

I think at this level they're around a 50/50 team. I don't know how they fix their batting unless their top order just lights up a World Cup with the top three. I think they will have to stay with this slowly slowly starting, and because of that, their bowlers have to do a lot.

Was a bit surprised they didn't change it up in the last game. They had to win that big, and they didn't go hard at the top, and even seemed to not really attack with the ball. Like they were waiting for England to collapse on their own.  A bizarre tournament really, they go 4-1, miss the semi-finals, and make news around the world for the wrong reasons.


Had an ordinary end to the tournament. It seems like they retired Asghar Afghan off and Mujeeb's injury didn't help.

But when it comes down to it, their batting is still the main concern. They need to find a way to turn guys who can slap 80MPH right-arm pace and slog against spin into batters who can handle 90+ and handle tougher situations at the crease.

It sounds weird, but I wonder if more of their younger batters need a more solid grounding in first class cricket. It's hard because once they start hitting sixes they head off onto the franchise circuit. But while that is great, so few of them seem to develop into top tier franchise batting talent anyway. Shahzad, Zazai, Najib, etc, they're all good lower-level batters, but once they move beyond that level, they look one dimensional. They either need to get to the point where they can hit everything, like Andre Russell, or they need to develop batting skills to overcome the bits they can't hit.

But it's also worth looking at the fact that they are still bowling Hamid Hassan, when he's been thawed out. And the rest of their seamers just aren't quite of the level you would like. In 2015 their seam bowling options looked really good, but they've really been struggling to find that.

They play more and more cricket on slower lower wickets for their spinners, and I don't know if that is why or they've just been unlucky, but they're going to need better seam options next time.

They beat the teams they are better than, and struggled against the ones that can test their batters a bit more. They might still have played their best game against Pakistan, but they ended up as 2-3. Hopefully they see this as a missed opportunity.


An alternate universe argument suggests that if India found themselves in the other group, they are probably the second-best team. I mean, are India really any worse than Australia at T20?

I keep looking at their team for the obvious flaw that made them lose, but in truth, there is nothing massive here. I think looking back, Mohammad Siraj probably should have played ahead of Bhuvi or Shami. But I am not sure that cost them in the New Zealand or Pakistan match. And really, that’s their tournament.

They picked some of the best anchor batters on the planet, and they failed. They threw up Ishan Kishan and he failed. Their batters went out to left-arm pace, quicks, right-arm seam, and leggies in those two matches. I thought Pakistan played the chase perfectly against them, and the dew came in at a time India might have tried to squeeze.

Perhaps Siraj could do something early on in that game if he plays. But as good as he is, he's not a massive wicket-taker, so I assume Pakistan would have just tried to knock him around - which is how they play at the top.

And the New Zealand game, the bowlers weren't ever in it.

Against Afghanistan, their anchors did what they wanted, and then their bowlers were always going to be too good with that amount of runs. And they rolled Scotland.

None of this means that India is perfect. Like Australia and South Africa, they seem overly reliant on anchors. Though, so are Pakistan, who are unbeaten, and New Zealand.  But I think the Indian batters can smoke the ball from the start. They also have some flexibility with their lineup to try before the net World Cup. Follow their ODI side and back their anchors to make runs next time, and pick their best four bowlers with Jdeaja. Allowing Hardik to be their all rounder.

Or, get a bit crazy with it. List Hardik at seven, Jadeja at eight, Harshal/Thakur/Axar at nine, and just tell their batters to go nutso every game with Bumrah and whoever their next best-attacking bowler is.  Or the third option is Hardik at five, Jadeja at six, Axar at seven, Harshal at eight, Thakur at nine with Bumrah and someone else.  They have hitting until nine there, but also seven bowling options. They have that kind of flexibility in a way teams like Australia or South Africa don't.

They probably would like to have more left-arm seam, maybe one more lefty at the top of the order, and a gun veggie to go with Chakravarthy would be ideal too.

Coming into this tournament, I thought India and West Indies were the best teams alongside England. I think the West Indies bowling was overlooked as a weakness, but they could still be in the semis if their batters made runs. And I think the same could be said of India. With this lineup, I wonder what percentage of the time they would lose both the games to New Zealand and Pakistan.

But that is not what this World Cup will ever be. India failed in the only two games that mattered for them, and that's how it goes.


It's huge for Namibia even to be here, and it's easy to get caught up in that and how small a cricket nation they are, or even a bunch of cricket clubs within a small nation.

But there are things they can work on here. Like they must be able to find a stronger top-order than this. They had three batters with strike rates over a run a ball.

Two that faced a decent amount. That includes both rounds, you can say the pitches were slow, not sure they were that slow. It starts at the top. Analysts like me get angry when players chew up a lot of balls to end up with strike rates of 130 by having a few innings where it comes off.  Well the Namibia top order eat up balls without any pay off.

They need to all work out how to hit more boundaries; if you take David Wiese out of their team they basically nurdled their way through a World Cup.

And we’re not sure if Wiese will play in the next one - though I think he will.

Their bowling obviously carried them. You could see it even with players like Karl Birkenstock and Ben Shikongo, they are both military medium, but they come in bowl to plan and execute precisely how the team needs them. Their bowling is mostly held together by left-arm seam and handy part-time finger spin. That won't work for every tournament.

They also need some death bowling. I think they are talented at the top, clever in the middle, but they're a dumpster fire at the end.

Also worth talking about the thing that wasn't spoken about as much in this tournament, the fact this is an overly white African team. I think in the right circumstance Pikky Ya France is a handy bowler.

But having a black African player in your side for four games, and they only bowl four overs and bat in the tail for nine balls.

From a talent perspective, they really need to widen the base of their players behind a handful of clubs anyway. Now hopefully this tournament helps a new generation take up cricket. But when they do pick black African players, they need actually to let them do their thing.

There seem to be a lot of very devoted people to Namibia cricket, and they should be proud of how they played here, and in the qualifiers. And I hope this is the start of them continuing to bore teams with extreme discipline. Like the fact in seven games they didn't deliver a no-ball.