Remember the Proteas are human after all

2015-03-18 00:00

CRUNCH time, make or break, last chance … call it what you wish, the bottom line is there’s no turning back for the Proteas in today’s World Cup meeting with Sri Lanka.

This is more than just the business end of the tournament. With history stacked against us — South Africa have never won a knockout match since entering the cricket World Cup fray in 1992 — there are many people who have already given up hope, resigning themselves to the fact that the Proteas will be watching the rest of the tournament from home.

Recapping our performances to date, we have really only knocked about the so-called weaker nations — and yes, the West Indies do not strike fear into many opposition these days — falling short against the recognised cricket powers, India and Pakistan.

While there should be butterflies in the stomach and the eternal question of can we or won’t we progress further, there needs to be a logical and sensible outlook over the whole match.

There are two sides involved and one is just as fallible as the other. Bad luck, a dicey decision, a dropped catch, a scintillating innings and an inspired bowling spell can affect the Proteas and Sri Lanka.

There’s no certainty that in-form batsmen will continue to pile on the runs or each team’s best bowler won’t get smacked around.

Quinton de Kock has been a topic of discussion since he faced his first ball in the tournament and this could be his last chance at the 2015 edition. He has proven he has the talent and there is the possibility he could produce the goods now, when the Proteas need it most. The form book may prove otherwise, but there’s never a guarantee that the favoured thoroughbred will always win. An upset can and does sometimes happen.

Sri Lanka have quietly gone about their business in the tournament, led by their “Dad’s Army” of Tillakaratne Dilshan, the sublime Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene with the bat, three greats of the game who would love nothing more than to finish their international careers with the World Cup trophy.

They have a balanced team with contributions coming from all players, while there is a sense of the Proteas relying heavily on the quality of AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn to win them matches.

That cannot happen today and every Protea player on the park needs to contribute.

It’s easier said than done and the pressure of high expectation will be a factor.

Sport is played by humans, not ­machines. They will have an off day, they will fail and if it happens at the vital moment … we’ve just said they are human.

In that vein, get behind the Proteas today. Ignite feelings of passions and confidence, eliminate negative thoughts, have belief in the impossible happening if we look down and out.

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