South Africa are portrayed as a team in disarray before their make-or-break cricket World Cup clash against New Zealand, which starts tonight.

Renowned South African sports writer Neil Manthorp said the Proteas are too reliant on far too few players.

Whereas New Zealand had a lot of depth and unity, Manthorp said South Africa's fortunes rested on batsmen Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis, and "magnificent" new-ball bowler Kagiso Rabada.

Manthorp still fancies New Zealand to win the tournament, and said South Africa had made too many selection mistakes including retaining faith in Hashim Amla.


"Anyone who saw his painful crawl to 40 not out against Afghanistan would know he's a long way past it," Manthorp told Radio Sport.

"Most teams took a punt with one or two players over form and fitness. South Africa took five gambles.

"One of those – Dale Steyn – backfired immediately. David Miller has been an under-achiever in a 10-year international career.

"Lungi Ngidi is a tremendous talent but he wasn't fit when selected….

"There are a lot of problems in the South African team. There is a problem with a lack of all-rounders – it all went wrong when they selected the side."

Manthorp said South Africa's best hope was to bat first at Edgbaston and score at least 320, but de Kock and/or du Plessis would have to get a lot of the runs.

New Zealand had more bowling options and players capable of big scores. The Kiwis would virtually be assured of a semifinal place if they won.

"If New Zealand bat first, and with (Kane) Williamson and (Ross) Taylor in the form they have been in for the last couple of years and Tom Latham as well…


"I guess I am being a bit pessimistic about South Africa because they were so off the pace in the first three games.

"New Zealand is super-efficient and clinical.

"They are perennial semifinalists – I've always been a massive fan of New Zealand.

"I don't like backing a favourite. You can still get 8 – 1 on New Zealand to win (the World Cup) and I fancy a bit of that."

The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':