The dream is over. The Proteas on Thursday were knocked out of the Women’s World Cup.
Their objective of becoming the first South African team to reach a World Cup final lay in tatters on the Hagley Oval outfield.
It will instead be traditional rivals England, who trounced South Africa by 137 runs in this second semi-final, and Australia that will once again contest the showpiece on Sunday.
The major disappointment for the Proteas will be that they kept comfortably their worst performance of the tournament for the knockout stages.
This “Golden Generation” of players, who have most likely played their last World Cup game together, will have to live with the fact they did not play to their full potential when it mattered most. It is those sobering thoughts that will live in their minds for a long time yet.
England outclassed South Africa in every department – or at least the Proteas allowed them to.
Sune Luus and her team were terrible in the field with six dropped catches and 20 extras, which included 16 wides, setting the disappointing tone upfront before a batting collapse that saw them bowled out for just 157.
It had all started so promisingly with Luus winning the toss and inserting England. Everything seemed to be going according to plan when Marizanne Kapp had the dangerous Tammy Beaumont caught behind in the fourth over.
South Africa continued to make inroads Ayabonga Khaka and Shabnim Ismail (3/46) joining in with the wickets of Heather Knight and Nat Sciver before the catching malaise caught fire which allowed Danni Wyatt to five chances en-route to her match-winning 129.
The England opener survived chances on 22, 36, 77, 116 and 117 with Lizelle Lee being the primary culprit offering up two missed chances. Marizanne Kapp, Lara Goodall and Shabnim Ismail were the others.
Mignon du Preez also dropped Sophia Dunkley, who made 60 as part of a 116-run fourth-wicket stand with Wyatt, as the pair set up England’s impressive 294/8.
The Proteas were never in the hunt as early as the fourth over of the run chase with Anya Shrubsole (2/27) removing both South African openers Laura Wolvaardt (0) and Lizelle Lee (2) on the cheap.
Wolfvaardt’s fire that had shone so brightly in this World Cup was extinguished without adding to her 433 tournament runs, while Lee’s dire campaign fizzled out.
From there on South Africa were simply going through the motions with the result inevitable. There were meagre contributions through the middle-order, but none of them could live with the brilliant Sophie Ecclestone.
The World No 1 ODI bowler delivered when it mattered most as she ran through the Proteas’ lower-order with the best figures of the tournament as she finished with 6/36 to deliver the coup de grace for England.