We’ve been here before

2011-03-26 00:00

WE really, really should have known better. Trust the SABC to stuff it up, too. They shouldn’t have bothered showing last night’s meltdow: the real drama was between India and Australia the day before.

South Africa and Cricket World Cups simply refuse to mix into anything else but a sorry, teary mess.

And yet, this time there were no tears like in 1999, when one sat on the couch ready to commit suicide as Allan Donald dropped his bat.

Speaking of which, one has to wonder if “White Lightning” , now the Kiwis’ bowling coach, was chortling into his lager late last night, smirking at the thought of being on the “right side” of another Proteas capitulation for once.

Last night, like many of you, this hopeless scribe sat and watched as the self-destruct button was repeatedly pressed as the streetwise Kiwis upped the ante.

The unseemly scrap between Faf du Plessis and Daniel Vettori was just an illustration of how pressure still gets to the Proteas.

Anyone who has played this game at a decent level will tell you that a batsman is best served keeping his mouth shut when he is in the middle. There simply is no winning against eleven yapping yobs, especially if they hail from even further south of the equator than you do.

South Africa’s incredible ability to fluff their lines on the biggest stage has become a running joke in cricket circles — except the precious Proteas, of course.

The tale of the Proteas on the ultimate stage is like a Greek tragedy.

It used to really, really hurt, but now the Proteas mucking up at a major event at least allows one to enjoy the rest of the competition without the burden of false hope.

Just think how much easier it will be to root for India and the fairytale ending of a Sachin Tendulkar ton securing a World Cup triumph to cap his glittering career.

And while you are pondering, consider this.

Australia, who had won the previous three tournaments, crashed out to a skilful, nerveless home nation on Thursday.

The country is in mourning, shamed by falling at the same stage as the woeful Windies.

Despite a fine, fighting hundred and leading his side to two World Cups, Ricky Ponting looks set to be relieved of the captaincy.

And Graeme Smith?

He spoke last night of his excitement for the next regime, and how proud he was of some of the cricket they had played.

Ask Australians, and there is no pride in losing, especially so early in the tournament.

Their priority is to win. Anything else is too heavy a burden to lug to Sydney International Airport.

There are no excuses — political or otherwise — for the Proteas to hide behind. Simply put, they just don’t know how to win when it matters.

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