BMT in life and on the pitch

2012-09-15 00:00

IT’S easy to do something well when nobody is watching. But it’s another matter altogether to perform when the eyes of a gallery are upon you.

I have revisited golf. I played the sport so much during my school days that it became a frustrating part of my week I couldn’t do without.

Certain that I wasn’t going to improve any further, I stopped. Since then, I have had the odd round when a mate has been visiting from out of town, but none of those ever gave me the impression that I should dust off the clubs and get back out on the course. Golf just wasn’t for me.

A few weeks ago, a Pretoria-based school friend paid the City of Choice a visit and wanted to go for a hack. Happy to see him and under a fair amount of peer pressure, I obliged. But I was going to do it properly this time. So I got out the irons and a driver and paid the driving range a visit. A few lessons later, and I am enjoying the game more than I ever have. Trust me, I’m still no Rory, but I’ve learned to take a deep breath whenever things aren’t going well and soak up the Midlands spring air. Golf is enjoyable again and I can’t get enough.

The laughs generated on the course, if nothing else, make a round worthwhile.

Last weekend we snuck in a 7.15 am four-ball at Victoria Country Club. Starting off the 11th (VCC is weird like that), we decided to play straight through at the turn, meaning that we had gotten back to the first in an hour-and-a-half — not bad given how much time we spent in the cabbages.

There was one player in our four-ball who, by this stage, had set himself apart from the rest. Teeing off with no more than a four iron, Carl was splitting fairways for fun. But on the first, he had an audience in the four-ball behind us. For a guy who had played so well all over the rest of the course, Carl’s tee shot made it hard to distinguish whether he was playing golf or putt-putt. As it turns out, none of us would hit our tee shots particularly well. But Carl’s sudden self-implosion was fascinating. By the second, he was good to go again and didn’t miss a fairway for the remainder of the round. Teeing off in front of an audience affected his mental approach to the shot.

Like Carl, the Proteas have lacked something when the world’s cricketing eyes have been on them. Next week they have another opportunity to win a major ICC tournament when the World Twenty20 gets under way. If one looks past the recent watered-down T20 series against the English, South Africa would have been among the favourites entering the tournament were it not for the team’s fragile BMT. It’s time to change this. AB and the boys must do what they do best — play cricket. Without the pressures, without the expectation.

Because what we don’t need are our boys crumbling under pressure. We’ve seen that movie before. And it inevitably ends in disappointment and with a whole lot of regret. It’s time for South African cricket to crack one down the middle of the fairway.

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