Sibongile Mafu

The curious case of the Proteas ODI team

2013-11-07 10:12

Sibongile Mafu

I'm a messy Proteas fan. Messy in the sense that my emotions swing wildly from loving them to loathing them. Judgmental people would call me a fair-weathered fan, but in all honesty, I dislike losing and feel that the South African national cricket team should not be anywhere near it.

I'm merciless and militant in the support of my sports teams, but also recognise when things aren't looking too good for us and something needs to be done.

The Proteas are currently on tour in the United Arab Emirates, playing against Pakistan. They're in the middle of an ODI series which they're leading 2-1, after beating Pakistan by 68 runs on Wednesday. The first victory in the ODI series was stolen. Only cash-in-transit heists are less brash. Pakistan collapsed and South Africa won the match by one run. The second game Pakistan won comfortably by 66 runs, as they showed through their spinners why they should be winning more matches in these conditions. And the third and most recent, South Africa won. So in essence, the score card should be reversed, with Pakistan leading 2-1, but because Pakistan likes pulling a Pakistan on cricket and the Proteas are owed a lot of luck by world cricket, we're in this situation.

The Proteas ODI side has never had the best of luck, at least for the two decades I've experienced them playing. From bungled World Cups to Australia's painful dominance of the sport, the South African cricket fan has had their heart broken more times than a Rose ceremony on "The Bachelor". We're used to it. I even considered dressing up as Allan Donald in the 1999 World Cup semi-final for Halloween that's how it still haunts me. But that's history, and we're in 2013 now, and looking at our ODI side, I'm not inspired.

We are fortunate enough to have the best ODI batsmen in the team. Hashim Amla and captain AB de Villiers would two-step into any side in world cricket and be the best two batsman in them. We have Dale Steyn, who when he's not surfing in Noordhoek or making Hollywood movies, is an invaluable member of the side. Lonwabo Tsotsobe performs admirably, and has done well in ODIs for the team, and that's about it really. Who else can we say has really stepped up and staked their claim in the team? I'm often confused by the role Faf du Plessis, a talented professional fielder who neither dominates with the ball nor the bat. He played well with the bat in the most recent ODI, but he is by no means someone I'd rely on with the bat.

The youngsters around like Colin Ingram, Wayne Parnell, David Miller and Quinton de Kock, all talented, but all of them being in the squad at once does seem a bit heavy. Jacques Kallis has been nowhere near this ODI series, even though he didn't manage to score a lot of runs during the test series. His experienced hand in the team would have been appreciated. He did say he wanted to feature in the 2015 Cricket World cup, why is he not playing? He could play a Dale Steyn and play half of the series if fitness and preserving him is a concern.

But all I can really do is continue to scream at the screen in frustration, as the next World Cup looms, with more questions than answers. Russell Domingo will have a lot of work to do to get this side anything close to being world-beaters.

We’re the King of Tests, but being the never satisfied Proteas fan I am, I’d like to be the King of Everything Else too.

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs. Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

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