In & out: Almost time for some play down under

2014-09-14 15:00

Looking back at the goings-on in world sport over the past few weeks, one would think the column-writing gods have been smiling down on me.

Unless, of course, this supposed good fortune is all part of a trick and I’m soon to find myself in the same situation as Pandora, with her famous box.

But for now those gods have made good on some of my “beta” incantations by showing exactly to what extent the tide has turned.

A perfect example is our beloved Bafana Bafana, who not only registered a win away from home in who knows how long, but did so emphatically.

Then, as if to build up to the ultimate trick’s crescendo, Bafana went on to draw against Nigeria on Wednesday night in Cape Town.

They’re now sitting pretty in Group A of the 2015 Afcon qualifiers, three points clear of the Super Eagles.

Are we to see the South African national football team sneak in through the back door to compete at the tournament next year? If this trend continues, our beloved whipping Boys Boys could even win the Cup just by doing what they do best: going for the goalless draw.

I’ve been told to stick to cricket, which this column is supposedly about, but the prospect of commenting on all the action beamed “live and in HD” is just too tantalising.

Almost as tantalising as watching Serena Williams pound her way to a sixth US Open women’s title, or seeing a skilled Kei Nishikori whip his way into the men’s final via top seeds Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic.

The look on Roger Federer’s face after being beaten in straight sets by Marin Cilic in the other semifinal was priceless.

Even though the final itself wasn’t much of a contest, the fact that two relative unknowns played in it was refreshing in a men’s draw as stuffy and forced as Djokovic’s personality.

Then there were the Springboks, who in true beta fashion against Australia last weekend let a healthy lead slip to miss the draw by just one point. I know the draw is becoming a coveted result, but rolling over for the Aussies after sticking it to them for most of the game isn’t how it’s done.

But maybe Heyneke Meyer’s All Whites were just preparing themselves for missing the draw by four points yesterday against the All Blacks. They probably saw it coming, though – at least through one eye.

Now to cricket. Hopefully, the Proteas’ ­afterglow from their three-way glory in Zimbabwe will last for the next month or so, when they take on New Zealand in a three-match ODI series then hop over to Australia in November for a month-long orgy of white-ball cricket – three T20 internationals and five ODIs.

Will it be a matter of sweet revenge for the Aussies, or one of reigniting a not-so-old flame for the Proteas?

We’ll see next month. In the meantime, I’ll be revelling in the dawn of the Age of Beta as underdogs move into pole position without so much as breaking a sweat.

And, like all good betas, I’ll avoid the fate of Icarus by keeping a safe distance from the sun. That should keep the gods happy.

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