In & Out: Bring on the red-streaked pants

2014-12-14 20:00

I don’t know about you, but I’m loving December so far. I say “so far” because who knows what things will be like come Boxing Day.

I could, for example, find myself in the middle of the Okavango Delta being attended to by a semitrained Batswana nurse at a makeshift clinic-cum-dustbowl, in tears while she threads a catheter up my pee-pee hole. This because of a bladder infection I might or might not have caught from too much beer consumption up north. (Hey, last year was a crazy year and Botswana is a hot, unforgiving country.)

But I sense things will be different this year. The month is indeed shaping up to be a cracker: the Joburg traffic is dying down; we’re enjoying many more romantic dinners by candlelight; most people you happen to interact with during the day are so hungover, you could literally get away with murder; Aston Villa is sitting at the top of the bottom half of the Premiership table; and in a few days’ time, we’ll be treated to some real cricket.

Yes, the annual test cricket fare is back in town and this time we’re hosting the irie West Indies. The anticipation of 22 men decked out in their whites, standing around a lightly grassed pitch for five days shining a red leather ball near their crotch and buttocks is certainly enthralling, particularly because the Proteas are odds-on favourites to win.

And boy, do they need a juicy bone thrown their way.

The problem with anticipation, though, is it leads to expectation. And, as we all know, reality seldom lives up to our wild imaginings. It’s a foolproof recipe for disappointment.

Cast your mind back to last month when the Proteas went to Australia ranked the top ODI side, only to be royally reamed 4-1 in the series.

Before the outbound tour in October, Proteas ODI skipper AB de Villiers was quoted as saying he was “eager for a World Cup warm-up”. Those words are likely to be in his mind as the big competition creeps ever closer, along with the realisation that everything warm eventually turns cold.

That said, when it comes to test cricket, the Proteas have been the best for years. Consistency is not something we’d usually associate them with in the shorter formats, but in the long format – what some would argue is the only format that counts – they’ve occupied the top spot for as far back as my failing memory permits.

In that sense, watching the Proteas in white gives one a sense of how the game ought to be played.

It’s just a pity we won’t see a Sunil Narine vs Hashim Amla battle, as the former is “currently undergoing remedial work on his bowling action”.

And with Chris Gayle’s injury and Dwayne Bravo pulling out for “personal reasons”, we won’t be seeing some of the big-hitting big shots we were hoping for.

But I’m sure some new heroes and foes will emerge. Let’s just hope the #ProteaFire still has some life in it.

See you at SuperSport Park Centurion on Wednesday. - @Longbottom_69 is an armchair cricket critic.

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