There’s never been a better time to be a South African cricket fan

2012-09-01 00:00

HISTORY is fascinating. It has a way of repeating itself, turning conqueror into vanquished and bringing down what were once proud empires.

For centuries the British Empire conquered all in its path, owning and claiming more than half the world. Any opposition was brutally beaten into submission and forced to abide by the rules. It was ruthless, even barbaric at times.

They even sailed all the way to the southern tip of Africa, taking on the Boers and the Zulus in their quest to create colonies.

Fast-forward to the present day, and how things have changed, particularly on the sportsfield. Let’s be more specific and say on the cricket field. It may sound harsh, but in the heat of battle, no quarter is asked or given. The situation of English cricket is enough to heat the blood of the of the most ardent peace lover. Rack and ruin everywhere, thanks to a demolition job like no other, led by Graeme the Great and Hashim the Honourable.

How the tables have turned as the South African cricketers have now plundered, captured and destroyed to become the first side in cricket history to be ranked number one in all formats of the game — the Test rankings, one-day rankings and T20 rankings.

A new, youthful brigade has risen from the African soil and they have embarked on a quest which has seen them reach the Holy Grail of cricket.

It’s been a long time coming, England having had the upper hand for years until Peter van der Merwe’s 1965 side planted the seed of what was to come with a 1-0 Test series win, thanks mainly to the heroics of Peter and Graeme Pollock at Trent Bridge, where Graeme scored a century and Peter bagged 10 wickets.

It took until 2008 for the crop to be harvested and the sweets of victory to be tasted.

Smith, a young skipper keen to prove himself in the fiercest battle cauldron of all, stood tall, leading from the front as his troops celebrated a 2-1 series win. Smith himself scored centuries at Lord’s in the first Test and at Edgbaston, the latter innings of 154 not out while chasing more than 280 to secure a five-wicket win being the one he rated as the highlight of his Test career.

It was all too much for the Brits and forced then England skipper Michael Vaughan to resign tearfully, three years after historically claiming back the Ashes in 2005. His team had been throttled, pinned down and killed off. It was too much to bear. Public opinion was harsh, the empire was in tatters, it was time for a new leader.

Four years later and the South Africans have once again evicted England from the top of the ratings. This time, Andrew Strauss, shortly after reaching a century of Test matches, has called it quits. Granted, there are other factors involved, but let’s be honest, it’s what happens on the field, what the world sees, that determines a sportsman’s decision. This time around, Smith’s army was hungry for blood and to make sure they got their pound of flesh.

A 2-0 drubbing in a three-Test series says it all, and instead of the great empire wobbling, it was knocked over, eliminated, driven back into the earth.

Sport is a tough business and what’s written in the history books stays there. While it might be sad to see a champion of the game decide to give up, it also allows the victors to gloat. And why not? This time around, it was SA’s turn to enjoy its finest hour on the cricket field.

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