Kaymo’s Korner: Who are the Proteas’ mortal enemies?

2013-11-26 10:00

Waking up at 2am to catch the Ashes toss is no mean feat. For a South African, it is a crazy but worthy tradition, for the Ashes only go to Australia once every four years.

Due to the 2015 World Cup, there was only going to be a four-month gap instead of the customary 16, which gives the victors time to savour their hard-earned spoils.

Being bleary eyed at that ungodly hour was the result of losing sleep, but there was an empty feeling as well, which came down to yours truly thinking: why don’t the Proteas have a marquee test series that defines their existence?

Then I thought further: if we had one, who would we square up against for the big prize?

It’s a wide-ranging question with a multitude of answers and explanations, but can the equation be narrowed down?

Highly unlikely.

Cricket is a sport littered with rich historical and colonial boundaries that exist to this day.

Commercialisation has watered them down somewhat, but in certain countries, the fires still burn bright despite the shifting of the political and economic tables.

For so long, England taking on India and Pakistan was the case of the colonial bully taking on the Raj puppies, who then grew in stature and developed a bite that was bigger than their bark.

The West Indies, in the name of black national pride, saw fit to embarrass the bastions of racism and colonialism in Australia and England.

Indo-Pakistani clashes for generations to come will always be defined by the partition of 1947.

All the other test nations take great pleasure in taking chunks out of England and Australia but all of them have clashes that give them a national identity and cause to rally around each other.

Apartheid and the history of playing against white nations before isolation played a role in South Africa’s inability to foster a tight playing relationship with the other test nations.

But in the 22 years since that historic clash against India in Kolkata, there isn’t a clash that South Africa can safely say they could stake their lives for.

I’ve been to Cricket SA’s offices and have seen all the trophies we’ve won since 1991. But there’s a sense of meaningless to them, however hard they were fought for.

For all the gritty clashes and the legendary matches South Africa has competed in, there isn’t that one series that defines us.

In the case of the Aussies and the English, racking up the trophies is part and parcel of their daily business, but the Ashes urn is their priority.

After all, Jim Laker, that legendary English off-spinner who was the first man in history to take all 10 wickets in a test match, said: “The aim of English cricket is, in fact, mainly to beat Australia.”

That was said in 1956 but it is still relevant to this day.

Does South African cricket have the same drive to nail an opponent?

I’ll leave the answer for you to work out.



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