In and Out: Trying hard makes losing even harder

2015-01-18 15:00

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While lounging in a short-stay rental flat somewhere in Proteas ODI captain AB de Villiers’ hometown last week, I came across a live production by our local Channel of Champions that, if not for the “newsworthy” subject, would have been more than forgettable.

It was the live broadcast of the Proteas ODI World Cup squad ceremony, direct from the sun-splashed V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

It came complete with tacky smoke effects, players wearing atrocious, waiter-esque black-pants-and-white-shirt ensembles and intermittent speeches that left me cringing like I’d downed a jug of lemon juice.

Speaking at the ceremony, the honourable minister of I-don’t-miss-a-single-lowbrow-ceremony, Fikile Mbalula, expressed – in his best convoluted government speak – his utmost faith in the 15 men who carry our fortunes with bat and ball.

“We, as a nation, would welcome home a bunch of winners, not a bunch of losers,” he said.

Bafana Bafana have certainly had a remarkable turnaround since Mbalula levelled such barbed criticism at them about a year ago.

Here’s hoping, in a twisted interpretation of superstition, that the comment will spur the Proteas to bring home some long-awaited silverware because, as we all know, the game of cricket would perhaps not even exist if it weren’t for twisted superstitions. After all, it isn’t necessarily about how well you play the game, but how skilfully you project your neuroses.

De Villiers thought it was “helluva exciting” to be heading to Australasia in a few weeks’ time.

All that coy coach Russell Domingo would say was that he was “happy” to be saddled with this half-decent bunch.

This was despite immediate reports on the squad announcement suggesting that those involved in the selection took a “gamble” by selecting the not-so-fit wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock and he of the wonky Achilles tendon, JP Duminy.

The current ODI series against the Windies will be a litmus test for how the boys might fare in the World Cup. With some stiff opposition coming their way in

Pool B in the form of India and Pakistan, let’s hope that gamble pays off. And we discount at our peril the West Indies, who were also drawn in the pool.

If the Windies’ performances in the T20 series in the past week are anything to go by, the Proteas are in for some rough treatment. The men from the Caribbean revealed their trump card in Chris Gayle and he duly tore apart the Proteas’ attack, which featured some of their World Cup chosen ones.

Gayle, who made it into the West Indies’ World Cup squad (remember his rant at the post-match presentation after last Sunday’s match?) and was named man of the T20 series, took the South Africans by surprise. Before they knew it, and despite some exaggerated heroics from captain Faf du Plessis, particularly in the second game, it was all over bar the limbo dancing.

The win in the first ODI on Friday will give the Proteas the momentum they need to win the series. Perhaps they’ll build on this and take it into the World Cup.

Sure, the boys held it together in Durban, but winning a single game is little more than a good start.

They’ll be more aware than any pundit or armchair critic that choking can happen in a mere instant, especially at World Cups, where South Africa, as hard as they’ve tried, have never made it past the semifinal stage.

@longbottom_69 is an armchair ­cricket cynic. Like Razzmatazz, he also hates losing – and losers

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