The South African cricket team, also known as The Proteas, is a national cricket team representing South Africa. It is administrated by Cricket South Africa .
South Africa is a full member of the International Cricket Council with Test and one-day international status. It played its first Test match in 1889 (against England at Port Elizabeth), becoming the third Test nation.
In 1970, the ICC voted to suspend South Africa from international cricket indefinitely because of its government's policy of apartheid. The ICC reinstated South Africa as a Test nation in 1991 after the deconstruction of apartheid, and the team played its first sanctioned match since 1970 (and its first ever one-day international) against India in Calcutta on 10 November, 1991.
Since its return to international cricket, South Africa has remained one of the strongest international sides, competing with Australia for the acknowledgement as the best cricket team in the world.
South Africa was led for many years by the mercurial Wessel Johannes "Hansie" Cronje. A talented captain, Cronje is perhaps most famous on the field for his actions in the fifth Test against England in early 2000. In this match, both Cronje and then-English captain Nasser Hussain declared one innings closed at 0/0 (England's first innings and South Africa's second), leaving England 76 overs to chase 249 runs in a rain-affected match. England eventually won the match and the series, but the decision was applauded for increasing the chance of a result, instead of a draw.
Cronje, however, was later banned from cricket for accepting bribes to lose matches, a scandal which is still being investigated by police and cricket authorities. His replacement was allrounder Shaun Pollock, a member of a long-established South African cricketing family. Cronje attempted to rehabilitate himself, but was tragically killed in a aeroplane crash shortly before the 2003 cricket World Cup.
South Africa has an unfortunate record of failing to win major championships. The 1992 cricket World Cup, for example, featured a rain-affected match played before the introduction of the Duckworth-Lewis method. As a result, South Africa was left in the ludicrous situation of requiring 22 runs from one ball in order to progress. At the 1999 cricket World Cup, South Africa played against Australia in the last Super Six match as well as the knock-out semifinal. Australia defeated the Proteas in the Super Six match and recorded a thrilling tie in the semifinal, which was enough to knock the Africans out of the tournament since Australia had previously beaten them (in the match immediately beforehand). Popular legend has it that Australian captain Steve Waugh told a South African player who dropped a catch in the semifinal, "Mate, you just dropped the World Cup". The image of the South Africans following the run-out of their last batsman has become an iconic sporting image, referenced by The Twelfth Man, among others.
South Africa hosted the 2003 cricket World Cup, but failed to progress beyond the group stage due to a misunderstanding of how many runs they needed to score in a rain-affected run chase. As a result of this, Pollock resigned as captain and was replaced by young batsman Graeme Smith, although he continues to play for the team. Under Smith's leadership, South Africa has achieved some success, although they have been hampered by the retirements of many star players, including fast bowler Allan Donald and one-day specialist Jonty Rhodes. As a result, they had a poor 2004, only winning against the West Indies.