Sibongile Mafu

Nothing else matters but the Aus tour of SA

2014-01-10 14:20

Sibongile Mafu

Drop your cricket bats and catches at slip, the biggest tour this side of the hemisphere is just around the corner. Now I wouldn’t have said this a few months ago when the Australian cricket team was looking closer to Bangladesh than world beaters, but my, how things have changed.

In the course of one series - the Indian tour of South Africa and the recent Ashes series in Australia, a most thrilling series awaits. Christmas has come late.

Now a lot of people will say Australia has not been the Australia we’ve grown to know and hate. They’ve lost great, superhuman players and are now in a weird mediocre phase, but their performance against England in the recently concluded Ashes series, which they won, let me rephrase, which they smashed and grabbed 5-0, leaves the Proteas with a lot to think about.

And so too begins life after Proteas stalwart Jacques Kallis. A life I’m certainly not familiar with. I don’t know what a Proteas side without a world-class, once in a generation all-rounder looks like. And the test series against Australia is the start of a brave new world for the team.

We shouldn’t be too concerned about the Aussies, right? South Africa is comfortably ahead of all the other nations in test cricket, we haven’ lost a test series in forever and we have a team of bowlers and batsmen that has other countries looking on with envy, throwing up all over the place because of the calibre of players we have.

It’s a mighty fine place to be. Which makes this upcoming series a cricket lover’s dream.

Australia will always be Australia in my eyes. They’ve dished out some of the most painful cricketing moments for South African fans. Their players have terrorised us, beaten us at home and left us with often times more questions than answers. Even the mediocre Australian teams have been a thorn in our side, particularly when they visit our shores.

What will we need to do to make sure we pierce the bubble the Australians have found themselves in. Already current and past Australian players have used the media to pluck at a few Proteas feather. Matthew Hayden tweeted that he thinks Australia will win the series, especially now that Kallis has retired, adding that SA batting look vulnerable.

I know I shouldn’t read too much into this pre-tour statement, but man, do they rile me up. Grandiose predictions by people who have some credibility irk me. When Hayden purposefully ignores the likes of Hashim Amla (poor performance against India aside) and the consistent AB de Villiers when making such statements means his tweets must and should be thrown into the fire.

This is a position that the Proteas find themselves in – no longer two, but number one in the world and having to stay motivated to keep themselves there. Every other team is now the underdog, which means another kind of mental strength will have to be found.

As a fan, often times unreasonable, demanding fan, I’m salivating at the prospect of beating Australia and beating them well. After just one series, their confidence levels have skyrocketed, with Mitchell Johnson being the embodiment of that.

South Africans, being the diplomats we are, will not respond to the snide comments and tweet. To use that old cricket cliché, “they’ll let the bat and ball do the talking.”

We’ll be watching, and listening.

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs.
Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

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