81 days to go: South Africa's World Cup dream off to a winning start

Having featured in the 1983 World Cup for Australia, Wessels, led South Africa in their maiden World Cup game against Australia.

Published: 10th March 2019 12:16 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th May 2019 05:32 PM   |  A+A-

Kepler Wessels

Wessels registered his career-best ODI score against Australia. | AFP

Online Desk

The 1992 World Cup was one that saw many firsts.

It was the first World Cup to feature players in coloured clothes. It was also the first one to have white cricket balls. It was the first to be held in the Southern Hemisphere.

It was also the first World Cup that has South Africa. This came after the rainbow nation was allowed to re-join the game after the end of apartheid.

In the absence of Clive Rice, who was controversially left out of the squad, it was Kepler Wessels, who took over as captain for South Africa.

Their first World Cup game was against Australia at the SCG. This was particularly poignant as Wessels' first taste of international cricket came with Australia and SCG was the venue for their first and last Tests on Australian soil.

Australia won the toss and elected to bat first. Allan Donald ran in resembling a warrior from a bygone era but didn't have much luck, to begin with. Adrian Kuiper struck twice in two balls and the Proteas took wickets at regular intervals. Donald returned towards the end and finished with three wickets as Australia managed just 170/9 from their 49 overs. 

The target wasn't a massive one as Wessels and Hudson walked out to the crease. They put on 74 for the opening wicket before Hudson was bowled by Taylor.

Then it was the Wessels show as he dominated the side he retired from in 1986. In an otherwise inexperienced Proteas line-up, he was the one with international experience and he made that count at the SCG. Wessels later admitted that it was a "very emotional time” for him.  

Having featured in the 1983 World Cup for Australia, here was Wessels, leading South Africa in their maiden World Cup game against Australia. He led from the front as he registered his career-best ODI score against Australia.

His unbeaten 81 and his 97-run partnership with Peter Kirsten helped the Proteas get over the line with 2.1 overs to spare. And just like that South Africa's World Cup dream began with a win against the reigning World Champions.

“It was imperative that we started the tournament well there and once we beat Australia we got on a bit of a roll as far as our confidence was concerned,” said Wessels.

After finishing third in the round-robin stage, South Africa qualified for the semi-final against England, where rain robbed them of an opportunity to make the final in their maiden World Cup.

And it all began with Wessels getting one over the side he used to represent in the opening encounter.

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