There is less expectation on the South African team than in previous World Cups
South Africa's involvement in the World Cup, since their reintroduction to international cricket in 1992 following the end of apartheid, has ranged from farcical to the downright heartbreaking.
Impossibly revised run-rates or equally preposterous run-outs in knock-out stages have kept them from appearing in the tournament finale, even though they have been one of the favourites to succeed.
Currently second in the Test rankings, the South Africans languish in fourth place in the ODI rankings but are easily a couple of places above that. The Proteas will feel 2011 is their year...
WORLD CUP RECORD
No team in World Cup history has experienced its share of World Cup disasters quite like South Africa. Their first campaign in Australasia in 1992 finished in farcical fashion when 12 minutes of rain in the semi-final against England extinguished the hope of an expectant nation.
Needing 22 runs to win from 13 balls before the rain set in, the victory target was soon revised to an impossible 22 runs from one ball, prompting all-rounder Brian McMillian to storm off the field after patting Chris Lewis' delivery for a single.
The match was the catalyst for the advent of the Duckworth-Lewis method, the industry standard formula for rain-affected run chases, although captain Shaun Pollock probably wished the maths formula had never been invented after he miscalculated South Africa's run chase against Sri Lanka in the 2003 competition.
That error meant South Africa were knocked out of the tournament on their own shores, but possibly the most heart-breaking moment in World Cup history belongs to the South Africans in the 1999 semi-final against Australia.
With only one run needed from the final three balls, victory had looked assured until Allan Donald refused to run for a single, only to see to partner Lance Klusener hurtling towards him at the non-striker's end urging him to run towards the striker's end.
Inevitably, Donald was run out and the match was tied - but the South Africans were knocked out because of an inferior run-rate.
If there is such a thing as cricket karma, then South Africa should be a shoo-in for the trophy.
Graeme Smith is preparing for his third World Cup campaign, his second at the helm and has revealed plans to relinquish the one-day captaincy after the tournament. He has scored 564 runs at an average of 47 with six half centuries in his previous two World Cups, and in a captaincy style as gritty as his opening of the innings, has presided in 143 one-day internationals since taking the helm in 2003, with 87 victories.
Yet again South African hopes will be pinned on the indefatigable all-round qualities of Jacques Kallis, who has scored 923 runs in 25 World Cup innings at an average of 51, with seven fifties and a top score of 128 not out, plus 16 wickets at a cost of 48 apiece. Kallis is preparing for his fifth World Cup campaign but injured a rib making a century in the Test series against India and faces a battle to be fully fit for his customary all-action batting, bowling and fielding displays.
It is hard to see the South Africans being overly troubled by a group consisting of India, England, Bangladesh, Ireland and the Netherlands when four qualify for the quarter-finals. The explosive hitting of Albie Morkel was surprisingly overlooked, but if Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, the top two ODI batsmen in the current rankings, can put the runs on the board, pacemen Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel will ensure run chases are a challenge and uncapped leg-spinner Imran Tahir may provide a welcome mystery ingredient. Not going into the event as favourites may allow them to play with more confidence and freedom.
South Africa squad: Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers (wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne van Wyk (wk).