It’s the Titanic all over again

2010-05-15 00:00

TRUST the Proteas to ruin my already bleak period of leave.

I had actively planned to vacate the armchair during the Twenty20 World Cup, for the sole reason that I didn’t need to be left deflated, depressed or defeated by yet another aborted campaign.

It’s a good thing Graeme Smith and his boys are not astronauts. We would have had so many failed missions that we probably would have had our space licence suspended.

I don’t actually want to talk about the Proteas. And I am pretty sure Smith doesn’t want anyone to talk about his team, either.

Already he has tried to shift the attention to Australia, saying they are his favourites. That is all very well, Biff, but while you are busy cheerleading for our favourite team in canary yellow, perhaps you could take down a few tips.

Here is a brainwave. They have a totally different captain for this version of the game.

Now don’t get me wrong, Smith is a great asset when he is in full flow. Certainly, the English will not be forgetting his and Loots Bosman’s assault at Centurion last season.

Or will they?

While the Proteas have perfected the knack of winning meaningless series, they have yet to grasp the art of saving your best for the biggest stage.

They always look great on paper. Heck, just look at their Indian Premier League credentials!

Don’t, rather.

The biggest problem facing the Proteas is their predictability. There is no surprise factor in the side.

JP Duminy stood out, but that was in Australia, and since then he has slipped rather rapidly into mediocrity.

Duminy’s case is rather worrying now; indeed he cannot be carried anymore.

What is really crazy is that most of the team play with amazing freedom when they don their IPL pyjamas, or their domestic jumpers.

But put them in a bit of green and gold, and they suddenly get all lily-livered.

It is almost as if there is a throttling presence in the SA dressing room.

Quite frankly, this block — whether it is mental or physical — has entrenched itself in the South African psyche, and it doesn’t seem ready to leave while the current crop is in office.

It pains me to point to the Antipodes as a case study, but let’s be honest enough to admit the Aussies seldom get it wrong.

Remember when their “galacticos” retired in a blaze. We all expected them to fall back into the pack, due to the lack of a genuine spinner to take the load off their fast men.

So what do the bastards go and do?

Get even more pace, and another promising leggie rocks up and suddenly they are on their way again.

So what’s the secret?

Well, it isn’t much of a riddle, really.

The Aussies are proactive, while we wait for the worst to come before we get our asses into gear.

It is ridiculous that if our entire top brass (Smith, Kallis, Boucher and, well, Makhaya Ntini has already bailed) left the building, we would be scratching desperately for their replacements.

Where Australia blood players for a good few years, thus becoming part of the furniture, we would rather wait for Armageddon before we dare upset the apple cart. Well, this scribe thinks it is high time our superstars got a little ruffled.

The recipe is not working, certainly not at international level in one-day internationals or the hit-and-giggle stuff.

Not a soul in South Africa is giggling at the half-baked farce Smith’s chefs served up in the West Indies.

With 17 to win off our final over to have any hope, and our biggest hitter is patting the ball to point with all the urgency of a government employee.

I’m sorry, but even if it was 100 to win off six balls, a bit more energy would have at least shown that they were trying.

It was farcical, and the only thing worse for me was the bout of tonsilitis that I suffered from for most of my break.

So instead of being nursed back to health by a hearty showing from our Proteas, I almost drugged myself to death with paracetamol, as I sought to numb the pain of our national side not even rocking up in the competition.

When did we become cannon fodder for Pakistan?

They are supposed to be in disarray, but if an alien rocked up, it would have sworn it was De Villiers and company who had sacked half their squad recently.

There is nothing else to do but to start afresh.

David Miller’s call-up is a step in the right direction, but it is not nearly adequate.

It’s time for the selectors to go shopping — and go wholesale.

As if being sick while on holiday wasn’t bad enough, watching a team fluff its lines repeatedly made me almost eager to return to work early.

Then I came to my senses, and realised that being sick at home beats being at the office writing obituaries about the Proteas any day.

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