Cricket: Proteas determined to buck the trend

2009-09-24 00:00

AFTER 11 years of making great starts to ICC events only to fizzle out when it really matters, the Proteas seem dead set on taking a different route.

After an inept display to start the Champions Trophy, Graeme Smith and company basically have to win the rest of their matches to lift the cup they desperately crave.

They have made the semi-finals of world cups, champions trophies and even the World Twenty20 in June this year.

In all those events, South Africa made terrific starts, justifying their regular role of pre-tournament favourites.

Each storming start was followed by shock exits and the nagging feeling of unfulfilled potential.

This time, however, they have started terribly. They looked out of touch and out of sorts against a quality Sri Lankan outfit.

Smith suggested on Tuesday night that the do-or-die nature of the next two games may force South Africa to rediscover their fighting spirit and change their fortunes.

Indeed, the last few major tournaments have been characterised by the eventual winners stumbling out of the blocks and then finding their feet at just the right time.

The hordes of Centurion supporters that trickled out of the ground early on Tuesday night will return in the hope of a South African revival.

In many ways, a Proteas loss would be a loss for the ICC as well.

The idea of any tournament without a strong host nation is tough enough to contemplate, but even more so when that country was expected to go far.

The Proteas now play for for the livelihood of the competition.

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