By Niall Anderson in Birmingham

If it wasn't cruel enough for New Zealand to once again vanquish South Africa's Cricket World Cup hopes, the revelation that the Proteas missed a golden opportunity to remove Kane Williamson, well before his match-winning heroics, would surely be even more dispiriting.

On the final ball of Imran Tahir's 10th over, with Williamson on 76 and the game in the balance, the Black Caps skipper was shown to have got the slightest of bottom edges through to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

However, only Tahir seemed to realise – unleashing a vociferous appeal, only to be met with silence from de Kock, no support from his fielders, and a stony shake of the head from the umpire.

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Despite Tahir's pleas, South African captain Faf du Plessis decided not to review the decision, later explaining that he trusted de Kock's judgement.

"We weren't aware of it. I think I was at long on at the time, and Quinny is the closest to the action. He's always my go-to man. I just thought it was a plain miss. I just heard about it now at the post-match that he had a nick on it," du Plessis said.

Faf du Plessis had no idea that Kane Williamson had nicked the ball. Photo / Getty
Faf du Plessis had no idea that Kane Williamson had nicked the ball. Photo / Getty

The controversial miss led to former South African spin bowler Paul Adams suggesting that Williamson should have walked, but du Plessis revealed that Williamson told him that he wasn't sure whether he had hit it.

"Even Kane said he didn't know he had a faint nick on it. He would have referred it [the decision, had he been given out]."

It wasn't South Africa's only blunder in the field.

One run later, Williamson should have been run out, only for an errant throw seeing David Miller knock off the bails without ball in hand. Another shot went just wide of Miller close to the wicket, and on 91, Williamson nearly offered a return catch to a diving Lungi Ngidi.

Add in a few misfields in key situations, and another tough chance spilled by Miller off the bat of Colin de Grandhomme, and it meant that the Black Caps were able to manoeuvre their way into a position where Williamson could finish the game off, blasting a six then a four to end unbeaten on a superb 106.

Ultimately, du Plessis preferred to focus on the half-chances and a slightly below-par batting display, rather than the missed review on Williamson.

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Kane Williamson sends one to the boundary at Edgbaston. Photo / Getty
Kane Williamson sends one to the boundary at Edgbaston. Photo / Getty

"That's not where the game was won and lost. We [were] I think 20 runs short, and then we had one or two really, really tough half chances. If it was a perfect game, you know, we took that [review] and Kane was out, the game would have been really tight.

"But for me, that's not the difference today."

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':
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT