I’m currently reading Mark Boucher’s autobiography, it’s a very good read. And since the Proteas took six of the best, trousers down against the Indians, my efforts in devouring the stories in said book have intensified. Anything to get my mind off how limp and utterly docile that performance was.
Naturally Twitter and Facebook are abuzz with talk of them choking again, but that wasn’t a choke, that was just them being completely rubbish.
Everyone has a theory as to why they are rubbish when it matters most, and how the World Cup has eluded them every time since 1992. Most of these theories are of dreadful of course and never need to be heard, but as someone born and raised in the rainbow nation, I’m completely entitled to have my own theory, and I shall share it with you here.
I reckon the main problem of the Proteas nowadays in this format of the game is that the team is not representative of the nation. No, this is not a dreary talk about racial backgrounds, but more one of personality and behavior. This current team is way too soft and fancy. Where are the hard bastards? South Africa is a rough place, you don’t just go about your business here - you tend to fight your way through it.
But who’s a fighter in this current Proteas team? The talent is rather obvious, but if this Proteas team gets into a scuffle at a bar, who’s slapping Joe Root?
Taking Sunday’s team lineup, I have rated them on the hard bastardometer from 0-10.
Hashim Amla 2
Quinton De Kock 3
Faf Du Plessis 5
AB de Villiers 5
David Miller 4
JP Duminy 5
Wayne Parnell -4
Vernon Philander 7
Dale Steyn 6
Morne Morkel 3
Imran Tahir 7
Right about now you are probably thinking, how is it anyway related to winning or losing a cricket match, to which I shall elaborate.
Last World Cup, that sweaty curly haired git Kyle Mills and his Black Cap cronies got under the skins of the Proteas batsmen. They rattled them, called them chokers and elbowed them out of the World Cup. Utter bollocks, the ‘Black Caps’ sounds like the campest gang known to man, and with Dan Vettori in there somewhere, it’s probably fair to confirm that. This should never have happened.
Rewind the clock and put a couple hard bastards in there, and that match could have ended very differently. Yes you needed to be a skillful professional to get to and stay at the highest level of the game, but cricket can be very tough. You need to fight for everything.
Fast forward to Sunday. The Proteas bowlers were taking a beating, but they just carried on probably thinking, ‘oh, we will need to bat well here to stay in this one…’ That was not the right attitude, something outside of plan A or B was needed, but implemented it was not. Nobody dug deep, AB didn’t try any brave or tough cricket, and Morne Morkel just kept throwing his hands in the air like he just don’t care.
Where was the spark, where was the intensity – where was the hard bastard taking it to the opponents?
I have had the privilege of meeting many sports stars, both locally and internationally, and you will seriously battle to meet a better, more approachable bunch of guys than this current stock of Proteas. They model themselves on being a ‘team of the people’ and all that, but people like winners, and winners know how to fight.
Jumping back to the Mark Boucher, I know loads of people who refer to him as a ‘doos’. Now if you are not South African or a follower of Kevin Pietersen’s career, that is a very derogatory name given to someone who isn’t particularly charming or nice. But Bouch got shit done, and he stuck it too many an opposition team.
He wasn’t showing up to matches with funny hairstyles or crafted bloody tattoos on his body, he was there to win, and once that was done it was beers with the boys and off to encourage girls to make questionable decisions. This is what this Proteas team needs to embrace if they want any chance in beating teams when it matters most in the high intensity limited overs form of the game, because right now they are just way too nice and are aiming to be way to ‘good’.
People can say what they want about the Aussies, but they realized this from day one, and look how many World Cups they have! Sure they have had a few threats from ‘julio’ insurgents, but they have met this well and stuck to their guns of backing fighters.
So how do the Proteas change this? Well for starters, they need to find some guys who don’t mind growing a decent moustache, and I’m not talking about some opportunistic Movember crap. No, someone who knows a trimmed and styled beard will look better, but goes for the Magnum P.I instead. They need some guys who have no concept of what Instagram is, and simply cut their hair shorter all over when it gets a bit long.
Find guys who live by such codes, and you will find guys who will actually stay at the crease when the going gets tough. Find guys that realize with the ball in hand, that they can change things rather than simply try things.
Find guys who will win a bar fight with you, or in the very least give you the impression that they want too.
The Proteas can keep analyzing why they drop the ball when it matters most, or they can just embrace the fight. The option is very clear to me, I hope it will one day be to them too.