An Open letter to the South African Mens’ Proteas Cricket team…

Hi there,

Yes, it’s me again. Brett “Fish” aka Scuba Steve [That’s right, i’m the guy who attended a cricket test at Newlands wearing full scuba gear during a rain-affected test and was dubbed “Scuba Steve” by Pommie Mbangwa on the tv] and if you can’t tell i’m a huge fan.

Still not sure? Well it was also me who brought two of our American friends [American friends! i had to explain cricket to Americans!] to the Newlands test dressed up as Star Wars characters [and yes, that IS me as AB-Wan Kenobi] – “May the Fours be with you!”

Proteas Cricket Star Wars

We are talking serious cricket fan here…

i really am honestly one of the biggest fans you’ve ever had.

i remember waking up at something like 1 or 2 in the morning to cycle to my youth leaders home to watch Australia cricket tests.

i was the one who during the world cup on a Sunday evening had a loud knocking on our front door cos my screams every time we took a wicket were stopping the neighbours kids from sleeping.

i am the one who, on a rare occasion, when i was in the members stand [cos let’s face it, all the action happens on the grass or in the cheap seats!] managed to grab hold of Dale Steyn who so graciously agreed [although completely bemused] to pose for a picture with No_bob, the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin [called No_bob cos he doesn’t bob, he just sinks, more about that later…]

Dale Steyn Proteas Cricket No_bob

To be fair, context is always important and Dale Steyn might not be THE most important person No_bob has met:

Tutu No_bob cricket

But he is up there [don’t worry, Dale, you ARE up there]…

And so before we move on to some sad and maybe hard-to-hear truths, can we start by recognising this comes to you with much love from someone who has cheered you on [too loudly at times] for decades.

But also recognising. that when it comes to being a fan, there are still some levels above where i find myself currently, so there is still opportunity to do better:

Proteas Cricket

That’s why we have Boundaries

While at the same time realising there is a line when it comes to being a fan and supporter and we must NEVER cross that line:

Fandom Harry Meghan

i am not going anywhere, but I desperately hope you are!

So i’m a fan and that is present tense. That is not going to change. i am not one of those fans who is there when you are riding high and disappears when things are tough. But it is important to know that you are making it so hard…

The other day i discovered this poem i had written called ‘Where is the Protea Fire?’:

P    roteas run out on to the field for another lap of dejavu
R    un-out? Another one adding insult to, well, injury
O    f course we won the toss and chose the unpopular decision
T    hat seems to be the order of the day, of the decay
E    xpectations and disappointments will be kept to a minimum this time 
A    s it looks like we were too busy buying return tickets home to focus on the game.

F   ire? It said so on the label but certainly has not been found in the packaging
I    ndividuals with all the solo skills seem to lack all sense of team
R    esults feel less alarming than the lack of fierce intensity
E    ntertain us by demonstrating an __solute spirit of hunger and perhaps i’ll care once more.

What is perhaps more sad than the poem itself [which is missing an AB in the last line which was symbolic at the time] is that it was written in 2017, which means it’s been at least three years and probably longer… my memory does struggle to remember a time when we were riding high and yet at the same time i have vague memories of impossible series wins in Australia and most overseas wins of all international teams and unbeaten streaks and more.

rugby world cup

Look what you made me do!

Do you see how excited and happy i look in that pic? That is the kind of energy i used to feel during a cricket game. But that picture is NOT a cricket game. It was taken at Canal Walk after we won the Rugby World Cup last year – YOU HAVE MADE ME CELEBRATE FOR RUGBY MORE THAN CRICKET!!! Rugby!!! What is going on?

i have written an open letter to you before, that’s how long this streak is. And i write because i love cricket and i love how it makes me feel when we win and i really love how much it can bring us together once we are all just hanging out at the ground or following a match on the Twitterer or sitting together gathered around a television with wine and snacks and loud cheering.

But we need an explanation. We need answers.

We need…

A Few Good Men truth

That’s right, even Tom Cruise is in on this – WE NEED THE TRUTH!

Personally i see it as a good thing that Smith and Boucher and Kallis and Langeveldt and others are back in the fold and i know these things take time. We are also aware that there is a lot of crapfest happening behind the scenes and that will take a long time to sort out and we need the right people throughout all the systems and structures.

But all that aside, it keeps boiling down to Protea Fire. We are not seeing it. And yes that comes a lot easier with confidence and with winning series and with starting to get positive results… but until those come sometimes you have to think your way into a new way of acting.

‘Sometimes you have to think yourself into a new way of acting.’ [tbV]

And it’s possible!!! We have seen with a disastrous England turning themselves completely around to [luckily, those runs off Stokes bat should NOT have been allowed] win a world cup. They have belief, they have confidence, they play as a team, they are hungry. And if that hunger and passion is all that we see then it is enough. It is a start. And the results will come.

My friend Megan and i have been in the Improv and training business for more than 20 years and we have tried on occasion to get a couple of hours with the Protea team [we are both HUGE fans!] because the spirit of the Improv we do is something called “Yes, Lets” and we are convinced that if we could get a session or a few sessions with the squad, and maybe an extended squad, and just teach and play and have some fun and share some ideas, that we could absolutely see a difference in the spirit and heart and belief and confidence in the team. And that results will likely follow.

So Cricket South Africa, give us a call. [Or email me on] and if you are someone reading this then tag Cricket SA in and let’s get their attention. All of us who believe and are passionate and want to see things turn around, give this a chance. We really can’t do much worse at the moment. We are not promising a miracle, but we can definitely work on some skills and strategies of how people are on the field that when combined with the skills that are already there in abundance are very likely to help turn things around.

Proteas Cricket

Let’s take it from Tom again, Proteas: Help me help you. Help us, help you.

Just as the Rainbow Nation was a nice idea but has never [yet] become a reality and is something i work on every day to try and be a small part of, so ProteaFire is an amazing phrase that i don’t think we have ever fully witnessed. We’ve seen it in England and in Australia and in India. And it’s time you gave your incredible South African fans something to shout about.

Help us help you.

i”m not going anywhere! – i will give you all my support and turn my Eternal Optimist up to full every game – and i will be okay if we lose – but show me you want it, show me the fire, invite me to come and do some Improv with you and let’s turn this thing around.

We have a few World Cups to win… [okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Tom Cruise!]