The South African cricket team is fully prepared for a disgraceful exit from the ICC Champions Trophy. The Proteas are one of the favourites to win, and are wonderfully poised for another embarrassing failure. Raoul Duke gets a batting lesson.
The team has a long history of disappointment and regret, and the current players want to follow in the footsteps of the greats who played the game before. “We have a proud tradition of going into a tournament favourably and crashing out in spectacular fashion,” asserted captain AB de Villiers. “We hope to keep the spirit alive.”
South Africa has never won a single ICC tournament, except for the inaugural Champions Trophy in 1998, but nobody remembers that. With one exception, their record in ODI World Cups, T20 World Cups and Champions Trophy tournaments is appalling. It’s not the worst performance, but it takes a lot more commitment and dedication for the Proteas to fair so abysmally, compared to other, more fortunate teams.
Failing to win an ICC tournament is more important to SA than any other team that ever managed to fail. “We’ve always had a chance to win, so for us failure is more remarkable than it would be for, say, Zimbabwe or Bangladesh,” remarked Hashim Amla, the world’s number one ranked batsmen.
The team’s exploits in major tournaments have earned them their nickname as “The Chokers”. “I’m proud to be a Choker, announced Elviro Peterson, in the team to replace the injured Graeme Smith. “All the greats were Chokers.”
For a few of the players, dismal failure is personal. “Some people say I’m better than (currant bowling coach) Alan Donald, disclosed fast bowler Dale Steyn. “But until I’m involved in a terrible mix-up that gets me run out and the team defaulting out of a tournament, we simply can’t be compared.”
In England, rain will always be a factor. Any winning streak can easily be dashed by a welcome spot of rain. “There’s always the possibility that rain could manufacture a loss,” suggested vice captain Faf du Plessis. “We could miscalculate the projected score in a rain-affected game again. That’s a very good, dishonourable way to exit.”
JP Duminy, freshly returned after a long injury, is looking forward to underestimating a weaker team. “Losing a contest you are sure to win is the ultimate way to achieve disappointment, imagined Duminy. “You can take all the credit for your underachievement. Neither the rain nor being outclassed by a better team can claim the blame.”
Coach Gary Kirsten, himself a former Choker, is less convinced. Recent performance, including becoming the first ever team to be ranked number one in all three formats of the game, allowed a “drive to win” to creep into the players’ armour. This could be a stumbling block that may see the Proteas actually winning the tournament. “The players seem to have developed a winning mindset,” he stated. “It’s a hurdle we need to overcome.”
The team’s mental conditioning coach, Paddy Upton, has been instructed to expose the players to as much bad press as possible. If the seed of doubt can be kept alive in the back of the players’ minds, the possibility of an unfortunate failure may still be possible.
Cricket South Africa arranged for AB de Villiers to spend some time in Ireland with his newly wedded wife instead of returning with the team, should South Africa achieve another gloriously miserable campaign. The move should incite further insult from the public. However, a seat on the plane home is still kept open. “Let’s not get our hopes up,” added Chris Nenzani, president of the board. “There’s always a chance that we could win this thing.” BN
Like all good sportsmen, Raoul was born in the Free State before being offered more money to move to Gauteng. He has such a keen knowledge of the games that he doesn’t need to watch it to know what’s going on. When he’s not following athletes around, Raoul can be found on his farm near Bronkhorstspruit, drinking whiskey and shooting his gun.
- Can the Proteas bridge the gap between ‘Chokers’ and ‘Champions’? (playupsports.wordpress.com)
- Proteas out to loosen choking noose (iol.co.za)
- ICC Champions Trophy: SA Preview (playupsports.wordpress.com)
- We have to make a strong start to the Champions Trophy by beating India, says AB de Villiers (battingwithbimal.wordpress.com)
- Cricket: South Africas Champions Trophy Squad dissected (dailymaverick.co.za)
- Graeme Smith speaks out about his controversial decision to go to Ireland instead of returning home after his team’s defeat
- 1992 World Cup: Rain saves England from defeat
- 1999 World Cup: SA ties Aus
- 2003 World Cup: SA miscalculates; crashes out against Sri Lanka (The Guardian)
- 2011 World cup: South Africa loose against underdogs New Zealand (India Express)
- Duminy century hands Proteas the win (cricketandnews.wordpress.com)