South African cricket’s relationship with World Cup semi-finals is a painful one.
The nation’s record of heartbreak at the penultimate hurdle straddles the women’s and men’s team, with neither reaching the final of a Cricket World Cup or T20 World Cup despite eight combined final-four appearances.
For the women it has been England and Australia who have denied them a spot in finals, with both beating the Proteas twice – once each at a 50-over tournament and again in the shorter format.
Three of those four semi-final losses have come in the last eight years.
So to say that history will be against South Africa when they take to the field in Christchurch is an understatement.
But win and this South African squad will have broken the spell, both by finally ending the nation’s long wait for an appearance in a final, and by doing so against one of their chief tormentors.
As the second semi-final between South Africa and England approaches at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, we take a look back at how close the Proteas have come in past semi appearances:
Cricket World Cup 2017 – Lost to England by two wickets
Five years ago it was also England who stood between South Africa and a place in the final, with a dramatic finish denying Dane van Niekerk’s side.
Laura Wolvaardt (66) and Mignon du Preez (76*) top-scored as South Africa reached a competitive 218/6.
But England’s tail wagged just when South Africa looked to be on the brink of victory, with Anya Shrubsole’s boundary securing the win for England in a dramatic final over with just two balls remaining.
Cricket World Cup 2000 – Lost to Australia by nine wickets
Every member of South Africa’s top seven reached double figures as the Proteas batted first in Lincoln. But not a single one reached a half-century as Australia restricted them to 180/8.
And in a display of power that showcased Australia’s class, Belinda Clark, Lisa Keightley and Karen Rolton chased it down for the loss of just a single wicket with 18.4 overs remaining.
T20 World Cup 2020 – Lost to Australia by five runs
Two years ago it was another heartbreaking loss that denied South Africa in the T20 World Cup semi-final. The Aussies reached 134/5 in their 20 overs, before the rain came to shorten South Africa’s reply and lower the target.
Needing 97 in 13 overs, the Proteas got close thanks to fireworks from Wolvaardt (41*).
But they couldn’t quite make up the run rate late on, falling five runs short in an agonising final over.
T20 World Cup 2014 – Lost to England by nine wickets
A top-order collapse did for South Africa early in the T20 semi-final in 2014, with only Du Preez and Chloe Tryon reaching double figures as they were bowled out for 101.
England rattled off the reply with ease to hand South Africa another semi-final defeat.