South Africans are too kind to the Proteas

2015-03-29 22:35

The early mornings and sleepless nights were compounded by the Proteas’ failure to finally break their World Cup hoodoo. It was an all too familiar sight: the green and gold going through the group stages comfortably, albeit with a slip-up or two. This time, however, the Proteas managed to pass their most challenging test: winning a knockout match for the first time in their ICC World Cup history. Although it came against a Sangakarra-inspired Sri Lanka, group stage losses against Pakistan and India had earlier raised questions over the Proteas’ credentials.

An MCG final was up for grabs when the Proteas faced underdog-cum-favourites New Zealand. Another top order failure left the middle-order with a lot to do. Thankfully, numbers 3 through 6 came to the party. A pyrotechnic finish gave the Saffers a commendable 281/5 off 43 overs. A horrid bowling performance and a quick start by Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum brought New Zealand back into the game. It was left to one-time South African Grant Elliot to snuff out our #ProteaFire. Losers, once again.

Look at how football (or “saw-ker”) followers react to the often dismal performances displayed by Bafana Bafana. Statements like “Bafana only score in Castle Lager ads” and “what did you expect?” quickly make the rounds. They are never spared. When it comes to the Proteas, however, pleasantries are exchanged. “Well done boys. You made the nation proud” is a typical utterance. Even the Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula, takes such a skewed stance. “I really feel proud of our boys…Performance, I’m happy. I am over the moon,” Mbalula told Primedia. For crying out loud, the only good team we beat was Sri Lanka. And who could forget the “bunch of losers” rant he aimed at Bafana Bafana?

A failure is a failure. A closer look will show you how contradictory all of this is. If you look back at South African football you’ll realize that we are not blessed with a plethora of talent, especially compared to what we had in the mid to late 90s. Case in point: our 1998 World Cup captain, Lucas Radebe, was also captain of Leeds United, at the time playing in the English Premier League. Dean Furman, AFCON 2015 captain, plies his trade for Doncaster Rovers. Let’s not dwell on the gap in quality.

The cricket set-up has a more encouraging feel. It always has. From Kepler Wessels and Peter Kirsten in ’92, Lance Klusener and Allan Donald in ’99, Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis in ’07 to the star-studded present-day team lead by AB de Villiers. We have always been spoiled with quality. What all these talented teams share is failure, lots of it. Bar the ’98 Champions Trophy, the Proteas have rarely pitched up at major tournaments.

The fact of the matter is that the Proteas have failed the nation once again. They should feel our wrath; we should not be caressing their bruised egos. They should be made to feel the same way the Indians feel EVERY TIME they lose a match. Maybe they will ultimately conjure up some Big Match Temperament (otherwise known as cojones in Spanish). They should be given the same treatment as Bafana Bafana. After all, a loss is a loss.

What are your words for the Proteas? Tweet me @uncle_uhuru

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