There is likely to be one chance in the history of the world for one country to hold both the Rugby and Cricket World Cups at the same time – it’s time to REALLY get behind our boys. The job is halfway done.
Like everyone else, i was SUPER BUMMED when we lost so badly to India yesterday, although likely more so. i like to think of myself as South Africa’s biggest cricket fan, or at the very least on the podium. Since Jonty Rhodes epic dive to run out Imzamam Ul Haq in the 1992 Cricket World Cup, i caught the bug and have been deeply disappointed, internally wounded and as close to traumatised as sport can get you every World Cup since, with the 438 game against Australia the one time that seemed to cast off the wretched [and largely inaccurate in my opinion] choker tag and give us as close to a World Cup Winning Victory feeling as is possible outside of the actual competition. Let’s not talk about the time i dressed up in full scuba gear to attend a test at Newlands that was largely washed out and was somehow dubbed ‘Scuba Steve’ and made it on to a few tv interviews to help keep the crowds entertained… or the 2am cycles to my youth leaders’s home to watch test matches against Australia… or the time during that 1992 World Cup when the neighbours came round and rang the doorbell and asked me to please “keep it down!” because i was screaming so loud every time a wicket fell! i am without much question a top tier Proteas supporter.
The Passion is Returning…
For the longest time it has been hard to really support the Proteas well. They have been so inconsistent and despite having big names and huge talent just disappointed so often that to safeguard yourself [hello Manchester United fans!] you have to build a bit of an emotional wall. So hope they do well, but not be surprised when they do badly. But then something happened with the recent Australian ODI series. We lost the first two games having been smashed in the T20s and it felt a lot like business as usual for the die-hard Proteas fan [prepare for the let down!] and then we won a huge game, and another, and the final, turning the series around to win it 3-2 with the wins all being by massive margins. And a very little part of me started to fire up and believe.
And i noticed something different after yesterday’s game. It hurt. A lot. And affected my mood a little for the rest of the day. Which it actually hasn’t done for the longest of times – i remember going into the last ODI World Cup with so little belief given how we had been playing in the lead up and it being such a non event for us. But this time is different. Because it really feels like we can win. Or it did, before yesterday. BUT, and this is key, we DID NOT CHOKE yesterday. We were blown away by a better team playing on their home ground with 70 000 supporters cheering them on, on their former captain’s birthday [Kohli, who scored a 100]. Fortunately a game that means nothing in the bigger picture as we have already made the semis, although the psychological impact will likely be huge and we HAVE to lift ourselves from that – a convincing win over Afghanistan in our last group game is a must, and then a dismantle of whoever we meet in the semis will do some work in getting us ready to face India again!
i call myself the eternal optimist and friends will let you know that is true, especially [to my detriment] when it comes to the cricket. We could be chasing 500 and be 11 for 8 and a small part of me will still be thinking, “If we can just get this one partnership going, maybe we can sneak this!” Fortunately i have gotten a bit more reasonable over the years [so once Klaasen was out yesterday, i called it in my mind!] but that deep-hearted belief and knowledge that it really does often just take one partnership keeps me firing.
But it’s time to dust that Eternal Optimist out and take him out for one more ride.
Last night it came to me: WE NEED TO GET BEHIND THE PROTEAS AND THEY NEED TO FEEL IT! For years, my friend Megan Choritz and i have tried to get an audience with the Proteas so that we can do an Improv session with them that we are convinced will help give them the psychological “Yes, Let’s!” mindset they need to be able to lift themselves up when things start going wrong on the field, but that has not happened [yet! Come on CSA!] But in the absence of that, and having just experienced the Springboks give us near heart failure in three one point victories that took them to a back-to-back historical 4th Rugby World Cup and listening to Siya speak about carrying the nation and how it lifted them and gave them motivation, i really think we need to do that for the Proteas.
i have been throwing around the hashtag #TwoTeamsTwoCups and trying to get some traction on it [largely cos i want @Konfytbekkie to design us all t-shirts when we win or maybe just before!] but then i thought we need to add a piece which does make the tag a little long but i think #TwoTeamsTwoCupsOneNation is the way to go.
It’s important to be clear that all South Africans get how kak of a situation South Africa is in and how awful our present and potential leadership is and that a win in the Cricket World Cup will not change any of that – we’re not stupid. But as we saw with the rugby win and with the tours that have followed, the lift it gives to ordinary South Africans to have something big to cheer is immense. And every time we get to see a glimpse of the promised-but-never-delivered Rainbow Nation in action, the hope is that more and more people will buy into the belief and possibility and commit to being their part of the change…
Share Your Cricket Stories
So here’s the thing. Let’s get behind the Proteas at this World Cup and try and find the same kind of gees that we found for the Springboks. Let’s let them know without a doubt op watter kant ons staan!
Let’s make #TwoTeamsTwoCupsOneNation our cry and let’s start telling stories under that banner – our cricket stories – games we played in the backyard, games we watched, ways we dressed up, moments where we laughed and cried and screamed and got shouted at by the neighbours. Stories of meeting your favourite cricketers and the time that Dale Steyn posed with your world’s-most-famous-stuffed-dolphin No_bob [because he doesn’t bob!] and the time Alan Donald signed a piece of dirty newspaper you found on the ground to take to your sister in hospital who was recovering from a near-fatal motorbike accident [true story!] because he was her favourite player and and and… and let’s find a way to get those stories in front of the Proteas, and let them know that WE BELIEVE, and we want them to as well!
Wherever you are on social media, let’s start making posts, sharing our stories, building momentum around #TwoTeamsTwoCupsOneNation so that when the Proteas do what may seem unimaginable do and lift that trophy and make history in India, that they will know we were along for the journey…
If you’re hungry to see a Proteas World Cup win in your lifetime, let’s get behind the boys now. We have the team to do it – we are world beaters on our day. QDK has a 5th hundred to score and most runs in a world cup ever just ahead of him, Kagiso is looking close to his best ever, Klaasen has been on another level, Maharaj showed us in the Pakistan game that we do have the nerves, and Bavuma has the captaincy skills to rally the troops and get us there, plus that Markram 100 [49 balls] and Millertime and Jansen’s record of powerplay victims and Shamsi taking clusters of wickets in his previous two games, and Van Der Dussen’s incredible average in ODI, not to mention Gerald ‘The Karate Kid’ and his Steyn and Donald-like passion every time he takes a wicket!
We have the team to make it #TwoTeamsTwoCupsOneNation and imagine the celebrations when that happens… i believe! Do you? If you do get sharing this post and start sending the hashtag out into the universe to let them know we are coming! A #ProteaFire is on the way!