- The result was a given. But hey, where there's South Africa, nothing is really set in stone
- Cricket is a funny game, sure it is, but South Africa wasn't supposed to lose
- Protea fire was alive and well. The last World Cup had everyone hoping so
The world of cricket, over its glorious history, has witnessed great, rather legendary stories. Stories about underdogs, of invincibles, of incomprehensible victories, indelible losses, and of gods walking.
South Africa's story, on a cricket field, seems to be carved out by Eris, the god of chaos and hate.
One such story was at play when South Africa took on the Netherlands in Adelaide on November 6, Sunday. The result was a given. But hey, where there's South Africa, nothing is really set in stone. There was always going to be a wee bit of possibility of what ultimately happened, but no one would have seriously thought about what transpired. It was, as I previously stated, all set in stone.
Cricket is a funny game, sure it is, but South Africa wasn't supposed to lose. At least not this one. But as has been the case with this World Cup over and over, there was another upset in store. Another heist in store. This time, it would knock out one of the favourites to win the whole thing.
Protea fire was alive and well. The last World Cup had everyone hoping so. If it wasn't for the run rate in 2021, South Africa lived up to the standards set by the legends of the game gone by. When I say this wasn't supposed to happen, it is because the Proteas had almost everything going for them. They had a world-class pace attack comprising of Anrich Nortje, Rabada, Parnell, and Ngidi.
What about their batting? Apart from their skipper Bavuma, they had two of the most destructive batters up their ranks in Rilee Rossouw and QDK. Players who were churning up numbers like there's no tomorrow. Add to that the killer aspect of Miller, and the class of Markram - there you have it, the recipe to win a global tournament. It was all going according to plan. They came in, beat Bangladesh by a huge margin, set the ball rolling, and then crushed India. They were looking like the only invincibles of the tournament.
Come the last day of the Super 12 stage, all they had to do was restrict the minnows Netherlands to a gettable total, chase it, and walk into the semifinals.But hey, we are talking about South Africa, the ultimate chokers of international cricket. Something had to give in, right? Something had to happen for them to live up to their infamous tag.
"Hard one to swallow. We had the confidence and belief in ourselves as a unit to make the playoffs. Unfortunately for us, we couldn't do it. Winning the toss and bowling, what they got wasn't ideal. We lost wickets at crucial times. They used the dimensions of the field a lot better than we did," said Bavuma after losing to the Netherlands by 13 runs.
After all these years of heartbreaks and emotional losses, Temba Bavuma's team had everything to carve out a legacy far beyond anyone could have ever imagined. But as has been the case with them over the years, the infamous tag had to persist. The heartbreak had to happen, for there are no greater chokers in world cricket than the South African cricket team.
And for the record, I did not enjoy writing that.