South Africa batting coach Dale Benkenstein knows it's now or never for his side and has urged his batsmen to step up their game if Proteas want to make it to the semifinals of the 2019 World Cup.
The Faf du Plessis-led side have got off to a worst possible start, with just one point to their name from four encounters. South Africa lost to England, Bangladesh and India before their game against West Indies was washed out. They will now take on Afghanistan on Saturday in Cardiff.
The likes of Quinton de Kock, du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen have looked good in patches but are yet to leave a match-winning mark. Benkenstein wants his batsmen to spend more time in the middle as not a single player has scored a hundred so far and neither have had any century partnerships.
“The message is that the batters have got to step up and we haven’t," he said.
“I feel like we are batting well but we just haven’t done it long enough. Everyone has got in. We’ve had opportunities to have hundred partnerships and win matches but we haven’t done it.
“We try and play quite an aggressive form of cricket. Scores are much higher than they used to be. Teams are scoring big totals so when you are in and you are dominating, you’ve got to try and make the most of it.
“Sometimes we don't get that balance right. We try and accelerate maybe a bit too fast rather than getting our heads down and ticking it over and the batters getting us more to the end of the game.”
“We are practicing as hard as we can and trying to give the batters as much confidence as we can. We’re making them remember when they played well and that you can’t just become bad players in a week.
South Africa still have five games pending and Benkenstein believes his team will have to strategise more spontaneously to get better results.
“The difference in tournaments to international cricket is that in regular series you play the same opposition four or five times so you have an opportunity to start slow, to sum them up and then you can take them down,” he said.
“Here, you are playing one-off games. You are playing on different wickets and against different teams in every match.”
One more defeat and South Africa will almost be out of the competition, but Benkenstein feels all they need to do is win that one match.
“I really feel we are one game away from getting all those things right. If we get that right, the confidence levels will be up there and then we may peak at the right time,” he added.
“At previous World Cups, we have done very well and then when it came to the end of the tournaments, we’ve been feeling the pressure there whereas now, we’ve been feeling it from the start, from everybody. Maybe the story has just got a bit of a different script.”