Legendary all-rounder Jacques Kallis feels South Africa can “go deep into the tournament” despite their crushing loss to overwhelming favourites England in the World Cup opener.
Ben Stokes shone with the bat and ball besides pulling off one of the greatest catches in World Cup history to engineer England’s 104-run thrashing of South Africa at the Oval on Thursday.
“It was never going to be easy playing England in the very first game but I’ve seen nothing to change my mind that South Africa can go deep in this tournament,” Kallis wrote in a column for the ICC.
“They will be hard on themselves when they look back on the game, there were too many soft dismissals for my liking, but there was nothing wrong with their performance that cannot be rectified.”
Kallis had earlier said that not entering the tournament as favourites could work in South Africa’s favour.
The 43-year-old added, “This format allows you to make a slower start, it’s a long tournament and playing everyone evens things out in the end.
“Having three games in six days has pros and cons with the Dale Steyn injury they’d have probably wanted a bit more space between them. But it also gives them the chance to establish some early momentum. When you’ve lost, you want to get straight back out there as soon as possible and it’s great they’ve got Bangladesh on Sunday.”
Kallis lavished praise on the home team for not losing the plot after losing Jonny Bairstow in only the second ball of the tournament.
“They didn’t let England have it all their own way. It was obviously a massive toss to win and throwing the spinner the ball was the perfect start. This England side doesn’t fold easily and after Jonny Bairstow went, they never panicked, dug in and played some really good cricket.
“In the past, you might have seen England struggle but they are a powerful unit and that performance was a very good sign for them. Obviously, Ben Stokes’s catch will get the headlines and rightly so, it was absolutely magnificent, one that will certainly live long in the memory.”
Kallis sought to find positives in the defeat, and refused to be harsh on South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis.
“I thought Faf du Plessis made some really good bowling choices and the variations they bowled were pretty good, I think England would have considered themselves 20 short in a perfect world, which is a positive for us.
“South Africa were well in the game for the first 20 overs of their response but losing Hashim Amla was a big blow. They’ll be pretty hard on themselves with some of those soft wickets they gave away after that.”
Regarding England, he said the pressure of being favourites will only increase with every game.