Just a week or so ago, cricket fans watched a truly awful opening ceremony, and the world was full of possibility.
Now we are all poor Proteas fans, suffering together through this mess, although the headline refers to one particular chap. We’ll get to that later, as well as the shock AB de Villiers news.
Just allow me to vent a little first, please. I need this.
We kicked off the 2019 World Cup with a defeat to England, who are a superior outfit to us in every way.
Then came Sunday’s humbling against Bangladesh, and we knew were in trouble.
Yesterday, we suffered a third consecutive defeat for the first time in World Cup history, losing to a classy Indian outfit, and it’s now really tough to see us somehow squeaking into one of the semi-final spots.
For those still unfamiliar with the tournament set-up, all 10 teams play each other once, meaning we still have six games to go.
In order to qualify, we will more than likely need to win all six of the remaining matches. There is a chance that five wins could be enough, but then net run rate will almost certainly come into play.
As you can see, we’re not sitting pretty on the table:
Not ideal, with West Indies, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia left to play.
There is certainly no quick fix, because our problems stretch across all three departments.
On the bowling front, both sides batting first have cruised to 300+ totals (Bangladesh recorded their highest ever ODI total) against us, and whilst we upped the ante yesterday with some top-notch quick bowling, we were let down by our spinners.
Batting wise, no fewer than 15 players have reached 20 in the three matches, yet nobody has cashed in, and Quinton de Kock’s 68 remains the highest individual score.
The fielding? Well, we know we are one of the older teams, and it’s no secret that guys like Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir are no spring chickens in the outfield.
Then you add to the mix that skipper Faf and JP Duminy can’t throw properly, due to the risk of aggravating shoulder injuries, and it’s easy to see why teams against us seem able to pick off twos at will during the middle and closing overs.
But, if you want to see what it looks like when the wheels really, well and truly come off, look no further than David Miller’s drop catch yesterday.
Schoolkids would be ashamed of this one, which you can see at the 4:15 mark below:
I let out an awful tirade of expletives following the drop, but at least I knew he’d dropped it.
As for this poor supporter in the crowd:
I feel sorry for the SA fan in the background celebrating the catch that never was. pic.twitter.com/w3sfUgF2hp
— Sandile van Heerden (@SandilevHeerden) June 5, 2019
He was probably a few beers deep, but when he opened his eyes and saw the rest of the team with their heads in their hands, that would have hurt.
Let’s get stuck into that shock AB de Villiers news, as reported on Cricinfo earlier this morning:
AB de Villiers made a remarkable last-ditch offer to come out of international retirement for this summer’s World Cup, but it was turned down by the South Africa team management on the eve of their final squad announcement. Their thinking was that a recall would, among other things, be unfair to the squad that had been together for the past year since de Villiers announced his retirement.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the offer was made in April, just 24 hours before South Africa’s selectors unveiled their final 15-man squad for the World Cup.
De Villiers is believed to have approached South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis, head coach Ottis Gibson and convenor of selectors Linda Zondi, expressing his desire to reverse his retirement, but was told that this would not be possible. According to people privy to the talks, de Villiers’ request was “not even considered”.
We all joked about whether or not he would try his hand at the last moment, but I never thought he’d have the cheek.
In the wake of the news breaking, AB took to Twitter to show support for the Proteas, and offered no denial:
UPDATE: CSA convenor of selectors Linda Zondi released the following statement regarding AB’s attempts to get back into the set-up:
“I pleaded with AB de Villiers not to retire in 2018. Although there was a perception that he was picking and choosing when to play – which was not true – I did give him the option to plan and monitor his season to get him to the World Cup fresh and in a good space. We made it clear that he would have to play during the home tours against Sri Lanka and Pakistan to be considered for selection, instead he signed to play in the Pakistan and Bangladesh Premier Leagues respectively. He turned down the offer and said he was at peace with his decision to retire…
“At no point in the year that he had retired did he make himself available for selection. It was no option when I received the news on the day of the squad announcement, our squad was finalised and confirmed. AB is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world, but above all else, we have to stay true to our morals and principles, there is no regret in the decision.”
I love AB, and he is a supreme talent that any side would be lucky to have, but you can’t pick and choose at will when it suits you.
Cavort around the world, cashing in at T20 tournaments as you see fit, but you have to earn the right to be on that plane to England by showing your commitment to the cause.
His middle-order presence would have been a huge boost to the side, but I still feel management made a good call when turning him down.
Shall we take a quick look at the inevitable ‘get the boys home’ jokes? This selection from Memeburn:
Lose three from three and that’s going to happen.
Just one clarification, though, and this is important as the nation turns on the Proteas – you can only choke if you lose a match from a position of power.
Being consistently outbowled, outbatted and outfielded doesn’t mean we choked, it just means we were beaten by a better team.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that at some point during the tournament, every team will play three matches inside of a week. It just so happens that our week came at the start of the World Cup, with India’s still to come.
That was bad luck for a squad suffering with injuries, and only compounded by Hashim Amla and Lungi Ngidi’s setbacks, with Dale Steyn also suffering a second shoulder injury that has seen him return home.
So where to from here? Well, we go again on Monday against the West Indies, and then we simply hope for the best from here on out.
If it comes down to our final group match being irrelevant to our chances of qualifying, all I ask is that Faf and the boys give the Ozzies a good klap.
I want KG and Lungi going for David Warner’s head at every opportunity, I want us in Steve Smith’s face, and I want the crowd to give them hell the entire match.
Outfit idea below, via two people in the crowd at Australia’s first World Cup match against Afghanistan:
We should also remember that there are nine other teams to enjoy watching (eight, when you discount the Ozzies), so try and put aside our failings and make the most of the skill on show.
Failing that, drink to the point of forgetting.
It’s a temporary solution, but it’s been known to work.
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