Enough clichés, lets just win a trophy

2009-06-25 00:00

IF you gauge the success of the Proteas on their post-match interviews and comments you could be forgiven for thinking that they are at the top of their game and not stumblers at the last hurdle as they were at Trent Bridge in the Twenty20 World Cup semi-final.

It’s tempting to be drawn into the tired “choker” debate, but in some ways I believe the way the Proteas handle themselves in the press has set them up for that label. South African cricketers have a unique brand of clichéd comments, which they churn out at every media opportunity. Their scripted comments, infused with positive speak and confident jargon, don’t always do them justice.

The fact that South Africa is indeed playing great cricket is not in question but is it really appropriate to get so close to an elusive trophy and say “But we have played great cricket and I am proud of the way the guys have performed”?

Maybe it’s the competitive spirit in me but I can’t believe Graeme Smith got away with saying that, as it’s simply not the truth. In his defence he did state the obvious, later in the interview when he admitted that “Pakistan were better than them on the day”, (another hackneyed phrase).

Sure, the Proteas’ performance leading up to the semi-final was awesome but let’s be honest, when it really mattered they were simply not good enough and I think it needs to be said. Let’s take nothing away from the Pakistanis’ unexpectedly impressive performance.

Smith acknowledged this by saying “Pakistan brought their A game to this match and every cog worked well for them.”

Did he really expect them to turn up with their B team when a trophy, which has escaped them for 17 years, was a possibility? Perhaps Pakistan was hungrier, plain and simple.

Cricket South Africa deserves much credit for the way it has produced a competitive new generation of cricketing ambassadors, through periods of transformation and other challenges. As envoys of cricket and our country, perhaps some work on their interview skills might enhance their image and prevent them from being labelled “arrogant” or “chokers”. It would be refreshing to hear some straight talking instead of the same-old, rehearsed “lets not utter a negative comment” platitudes.

Jeremy Snape, Protea sport psychologist and performance coach, has brought many positives to the South African team. Channelling “positive energy” and dismissing negative labels are part of his job description and judging by the comments made by the Protea management and players, he has been successful.

Press conference, pre and post- match interviews have that yawningly all-too-familiar script. “The boys are looking good and preparation has been great”, “the team is in a good space at the moment’, “we are on an upward curve and our team is getting stronger and stronger,” and my all-time favourite “ there is good momentum going forward”.

South Africa has done well, but not well enough. Let’s not be afraid to admit it, put it behind us and get on with the job of getting our hands on a trophy — please!

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