In & Out: Coming in hot for the dreaded C-word

2015-03-29 15:00

As the white ball went steaming over the boundary rope from Grant Elliott’s willow off the second-last ball of New Zealand’s successful run chase on Tuesday, there were all sorts of dramatic elements scripted into the live television broadcast.

We saw a dejected AB de Villiers down on one knee, head in hands, crying. We saw Morné Morkel crying, spitting, wiping the snot off his mouth. And of course, we saw a bunch of New Zealanders celebrating a victory at Eden Park, Auckland – that place of embarrassment if you happen to be sporting green and gold and, in most cases, blond hair.

There are three moments from that World Cup semifinal that will remain with most spectators for years to come. The first was AB fumbling the ball and falling over the stumps when Corey Anderson was caught in no man’s land. The throw came in a little low, AB couldn’t hold on and Anderson went on to score 58 from 57 balls.

“Show me a hero,” wrote F Scott Fitzgerald, “and I’ll write you a tragedy.” As it turned out, AB was the author of his own demise. Or one of them, at least.

A few minutes later, another missed runout left fans aghast a second time. If Quinton de Kock had managed to snatch the ball Rilee Rossouw rifled just over the stumps instead of simply watching it fly through his gloves, Elliott would have been removed, and the ending might have been very different.

But the third, the most tragic – and possibly the most comic – moment of the tournament was when JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien collided in the outfield instead of catching a shot Elliott skied when New Zealand were 14 runs short of the target.

Fudgie, in his open-mouthed resoluteness, was looking good to take the catch, but JP came in hot, going for the man and not the ball, and with that “WTF!” moment, the #ProteaFire was extinguished.

This was the fourth time the Proteas were dispatched from the World Cup semifinals. Yet again, the big talk did little to stave off the big choke as the Proteas were left gagging and sobbing on a wet Tuesday night in Auckland.

After the match, I was also left gagging on something that had surprised me when the South African team was named for the semifinal. In retrospect, it became increasingly difficult for me to understand why an injured Vernon Philander was picked instead of an in-form Kyle Abbott, but who knows what kind of political bargaining goes on behind the scenes?

If things had turned out differently, would the Proteas have been able to overcome Australia in today’s final? Probably not, but a shot at glory against the favourites, even through the back door, would not have chafed the back of the throat like exiting the tournament in the same way the cynics, including me, predicted before the tournament had even started.

@Longbottom_69 is an armchair cricket critic. He’s aware that in some cultures, choking and gagging is considered an art form

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