Why South Africa have a decent chance of making the World Test Championship final
South Africa’s Test series win against India opens up their chances of making the World Test Championship (WTC) final.
Going through a period of transition, not many gave South Africa much of a chance before they faced current world No. 1 India in a three-match Test series. However, the Dean Elgar-led side kept their nerve to seal the pressure moments, emerging victorious 2-1. The win took them to fourth place in the WTC points table, with 66.66 points won per points contested percentage (PCT). It opens up the door for a possible final appearance in 2023.
It was South Africa’s maiden series in the ongoing WTC cycle.
What South Africa’s schedule looks like
South Africa have two home Test series coming up, along with three away series. They will first travel to New Zealand for two Tests, before playing two matches against Bangladesh at home. Before taking on West Indies for two Tests at home, they will also travel to England for a three-match Test series. The Proteas will travel to Australia at the end of the year for three more Tests.
South Africa’s two big advantages are that they have relatively easier teams to face at home – they should fancy winning all four Tests against Bangladesh and West Indies – while their away series come against teams they have enjoyed success against on the road. The Proteas have never lost a Test series against New Zealand, and ended victorious on their last two visits to the country, winning 1-0 in 2011/12, and 1-0 in 2016/17.
They have a superior record against Australia Down Under of late as well: the last time Australia won a Test series against South Africa in Australia was in 2005/06. Since then, South Africa have travelled to the country three times, in 2008/08, 2012/13 and 2016/17, and have won the series on all three occasions.
South Africa lost the series when they last travelled to England, in 2017, but had won in 2008 and 2012. England’s recent Test form, including their drubbing in the Ashes, means that they will not enter the series as the outright favourites, and the Proteas will have an opportunity to claim important WTC points.
It’s still early days in the competition, and it’s not easy to say how many points South Africa will be enough for South Africa to make the final. The last cycle had New Zealand and India qualify with 72.2 and 70 PCT, respectively, and we have assumed that the Proteas will need a minimum of 70 PCT to qualify. If they end up winning all of their remaining 12 Tests, they will end up with 93.33 PCT points, though that’s being unreasonable. Even if South Africa lose three more Tests in the upcoming year (a total of four in the cycle, including the defeat against India at Centurion), and win the remaining games, they will have a PCT of 73.33, which should be more than enough to help them qualify. If South Africa draw three Tests and lose two more, their PCT will still not be the worst: at 66.67. They, thus, have enough scope to drop a few points and still be in the hunt for a final spot.