Open letter to the Proteas cricket team

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Open letter to the Proteas cricket team

Another major tournament, another exit.

Traditionally that would be the end of my day and i’d be in an emotional slump for the next couple of hours and quietly sad for the next few days as i try and get over the emotional burden another South African cricket loss places on me.

But this time it’s different. Because i don’t even care.

The emotional burden that i do carry is from the fact that i don’t care. Yes, it’s just a game and a sport and it really doesn’t matter in the bigger scheme of things… but in the sporting, entertainment, supporting my team, cheering on my country scheme of things it should count a lot. And it doesn’t.

Because it feels like you didn’t even show up.

And it honestly feels like you owe me an apology.

Because i have supported you. i’m a 27 year old blue-haired [yes!] man living in the body of a 43 year old and i am the biggest Proteas supporter i know.

People try to tell me they are huge cricket fans. But then a test match against Australia happens in Australia and they maybe jump in a few hours into the game to see what’s happening. i used to wake up at 2 in the morning and cycle to my youth leader’s house to watch the games. Five days of test cricket. Forty hours of cheering my team on. Win or lose. And in Australia when i was growing up it was more often lose than win.

Forever the eternal optimist.

One thing i both love and hate about myself is that i am the eternal optimist.

i honestly don’t give up believing we can win until it really will take a miracle for it to happen, and even then i only gear down to mostly-not-believe.

i was there watching in 93/94 when South Africa on the back of an incredible Jonty Rhodes 76 not out [he was my absolute hero to the point of me writing fan mail to him, stalking his parents house once cos a mate knew them and even presenting a specially made Fish cap – my nickname – to him at Newlands] we stopped Australia from reaching the 117 they needed to win. So i’ve seen it happen.

My first real cricketing viewing action was the 1992 World Cup when Jonty won me over with that incredible Inzamam dive and i joined so many in being absolutely distraught with that ridiculous 22 off 13, 22 off 7, 22 off 1 ball rain result that snuck England through.

Jonty Rhodes dive cricket

i was there for the Donald/Klusener mix-up, for the Gibbs ‘drop’ of Steve Waugh, for the misreading of the Duckworth/Lewis against Sri Lanka and, and, and…

And every time i would make excuses and rationalise and justify and protect and argue with people on and off the social medias about how great our team it and how we’ll do it next time and, and, and…

You lost me in the build up.

Three games against England seemed like a great way to get ready for the Champion’s Trophy, which i had already decided to keep my hopes down for. Let’s just play well and enjoy the games and see if we can avoid the constant talk about choking [which i have defended you from time and time again to much ridicule and bemusement] and actually have a good tournament, whatever happens.

Then we lost the first game. But England had made a pretty big score and even though it was one we should reach, we just didn’t have the runs on the day and i was okay with that.

But then we lost the second game, and the series. And i gave up on the Champion’s Trophy completely. After such a great comeback and creating an impossible win scenario, we did what i have fought against admitting to for years and years and years. We needed seven runs in the last over with wickets left and if we had continued playing the way we had played the previous x number of overs we would have been fine. But we didn’t make it. Seven runs in an over with wickets to spare. And mental breakdown is the only possible cause i could see. We should never have not made that. Morris and Miller were both scoring at a strike rate well above seven to the over. The pressure got to them and we folded.

The third game was a great result but in terms of preparation for the coming tournament, obviously not super helpful as it didn’t test us at all or really give us a chance to practice our batting.

i demand an explanation

Then the Champion’s Trophy came and went.

You beat Sri Lanka by about 100 runs and yet somehow it felt like a completely close undominant game.

You imploded against Pakistan.

And again today against India. For some reason my eternal optimist that i had tried so hard to switch off, kicked into gear in this match and despite India chasing less than 200 [how is that even possible when we have four of the top ten players in the ODI game right now?] i was still thinking thoughts like “teams have lost seven wickets for thirty runs” and not carried those thoughts on to the logical conclusion that it was probably us doing the imploding.

We were smashed. i was away on camp and so keeping an eye on updates on my phone as i drove back and with a slow but decent start by QDK and Amla [both in my Fantasy Dream League team – eyeing a partnership of 150 to 200 for that pair to really help me dominate in my league!] it seemed like we might be doing okay if not exceptional. And then the implosion. Two run-outs in a row which is pure madness and throwing in a third one at the end for good measure.

i just can’t even.

Proteas cricket response

That’s me Can’t Even’ing… i haven’t taken the time to make my hair blue on my Fishmoji man yet, but THAT IS WHAT YOU DID TO ME!

Had we won, maybe you would have gotten something a little more like this:

brettfish emoji cricket

But no. Now you don’t. And that makes me sad. And i want to know how you plan to make it up to me.

COS I HAVE STOOD BY YOU over and over and over again now it’s just too much. i don’t mind you losing. But when there is no #ProteaFire to speak of, then that is embarrassing. And you need to either drop the slogan or else rediscover the mindset.

The way i’ve heard Pakistan lifted their game on the field when they played against you after being smashed by India is the kind of energy, passion, commitment we want to see every single game. You’re making the money for it, you’re getting the support, you’re affecting emotions. Now flippin start earning it.

Cos i am close to being done. And that would be sad. Hopefully, for both you and me.

Call me when you get back to South Africa. i’m part of the longest running Improv show in Cape Town and maybe you need a team of us to sit with you and do some team-building and help you find your mojo and become great again. My friend Megan who started the improv group is a huge cricket fan too and i am tired of getting sad, distraught, CAN’T EVEN Whatsapp messages from her during your games.

Seriously Proteas, what have you got for me? Cos you have taken so much and it’s time you really started giving back.

Yours in fandom, but seriously, find the fire or lose the slogan. Don’t you dare claim #ProteaFire and not show it? That’s embarrassing for all of us.

Maybe you need some Protea Supporter Fire

Let me finish off with a story, that maybe you can use in your team dressing room to inspire yourselves. It was during that semi-final against England on March 22nd, 1992. i remember it being a Sunday. My parents were at church and i was home alone watching the match on tv.

At one point during the match, there was a ring of the doorbell. i went to answer it and one of my neighbours was standing there. They asked me to “Keep it down because my kids can’t sleep!” 

That is an absolutely true story. When you get a wicket, nobody screams louder than my – my neighbours kids can verify that. When we hit a boundary or make an insane catch or nail a direct hit to the stumps, nobody is more stoked than me.

How about earning that stoke back? Claiming back the Test #1 mantle will be a great way to do that because i am a huge supporter of test cricket still. It is the game. But finding some consistency in ODI’s and T20s as well would go a long way. Make Faf captain – seriously, we all know that one.

But first i really think you need to show up at my door, with some kind of apology gift and face me as a team and apologise for being really crap this time round and not even engaging my emotions in the way you know you should be.

That is all.

p.s. Actually if the rest of you – Dale did his bit – would pose with my world famous stuffed dolphin No_bob in a couple of pics, that would go a long way to making things right. [Called No_bob because he doesn’t bob, just like i want to start calling you No_choke cos you’re better than that]

Dale Steyn No_bob

By | 2017-06-11T19:04:05+00:00 June 11th, 2017|South Africa, sport and games|9 Comments

About the Author:

Brett Fish is a lover of life, God, tbV [the beautiful Valerie] and owns the world's most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob (who doesn't bob). He believes that we are all responsible for making the world a significantly better place for everyone.

9 Comments

  1. Kunal Thakore June 11, 2017 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    Brett, I sympathise. Yes, there seems to be a big mental block for a team this talented to not be winners ever in any major tournament. It can be frustrating for an ardent supporter. But take heart from some incredible individuals you guys have had – AB, Steyn, Pollock, Graeme Smith, Ntini, Donald, Jonty, Kallis… it’s always been an absolute pleasure watching them, regardless of whom you might be rooting for. You’ll be better after a beer or two, I hope. Take care, buddy, and good luck to you & the team!

    • brettfish June 11, 2017 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much Kunal. Appreciate the sentiment but it’s just so frustrating at the moment having such top top players on paper who seem unable to bring the magic on the field… Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Dane June 13, 2017 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    Also got up at 2am for those Australia games. Completely agree. I didn’t even watch the India vs SA game even though I watched all the games in the tournament prior, even tracking it on espncric every ball bowled. And now I don’t want to watch the sport – feeling empty seeing heroes give up

    • brettfish June 13, 2017 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      At least there is a test series ahead which is where we have seen the fight happen so holding on to that and even the T20s have a lot of new personnel so that might be worth watching. Who is going to really want this?

      • Dane June 21, 2017 at 11:19 am - Reply

        Sorry for the late response Brett. To be honest hearing that England lost to India made me feel a bit better as they hadn’t lost a match yet. I was rooting for Bangladesh to move through to the finals as an underdog win does lift my spirit. That being said. Out of the whole tournament, Bangladesh stood out for me. They had to prove themselves as they had just qualified for the tournament. They played with heart and with a smile against New Zealand even being down 30 odd/3. And that’s what I wanted to see in SA. It’s ok to lose having done your best. but to lose in the way they performed on the day was almost like they didn’t care. So yeah it may be a mental block but maybe it’s a heart block. Reading up on the words of the Pakistani Captain after he came home with the trophy, made me fell that this wasn’t a high class player recognising the high class players of his team, but recognising how much it means for them to serve their God and country. maybe it sound too patriotic but at that level the game should be played higher than one’s ego which causes the mental block.

        i may check out the T20s and tests. But unfortunately we are too comfortable in playing single series. We have won many times in the past and it’s not a real challenge to win in those kind of conditions. The real challenge is for SA Proteas to overcome the pressure in tournament formats.

        • brettfish June 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm - Reply

          Yeah, probably to all. Really want to see fight in our players… am excited for the test series…also the T20 from the perspective of new players being blooded to put pressure on the comfortable ones…

  3. Ahmed Simjee (@aysimjee) June 14, 2017 at 9:44 am - Reply

    I am about the same age as you but seriously do not agree that you are their biggest fan 🙂 – you have some strong competition here bud. I have been through the exact same emotions as you – reading your blog was like having my thoughts and feelings finally penned down. I begged my dad to get a multichoice decoder just so that I could watch those Australia games at 2am in the morning way back then …shew. Oh boy do they owe us an apology …
    My belief is that they do have every skill in the book to dominate world cricket in all formats for years to come … but sadly there is this mental block that is deeply deeply rooted that would need some serious serious time on the Psyc’s couch.
    As far as the upcoming tests and T20s – how much of damage has the CT exit done to the boys mentally? Time will tell …

    • brettfish June 15, 2017 at 9:58 am - Reply

      Pistols at noon Ahmed, we will have to settle this some way… ha ha, no, thanks for stopping by and for your comments – i am very happy to share the mantle of biggest Proteas supporter – if we could measure the emotional pain they have inflicted on us both i’m sure the readings would be quite high and possibly able to power a small city if they could be harnessed…

      As i mentioned i am involved in an Improv group and i would love to have a few sessions with the team and see if the Yes, and philosophy behind Improv might help them unlock that mental aspect – just need to figure out how to get near them – because as you say the skills are obviously there – top two bowlers, four top batsmen in top ten – we shouldn’t be winning matches, we should be absolutely smashing…

      One of our biggest problems is the tendency to lose two set batsmen within an over – not sure about this last game cos don’t think it was as close but often when we have a decent partnership we will lose one of them and the very next over the other guy will go out. We do that so often i feel so some sort of decision once a wicket falls to play out the next ten balls as survival and then start again just to strengthen that block.

      i do prefer test cricket still and that does seem to be the one area we are fairly dominant and a successful series against England will bring all my love back i’m sure if it happens – was amazing to see England get thumped almost worse than us because at least our loss was to India and to read Morgan’s excuses this morning – ha! No-one finds it easy to admit we sucked on the day…

      All the best man, maybe if you’re in town you should come on over and we can face them together when they come to apologise…

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