The South African performance in cricket and rugby over the last few weeks has been nothing short of ‘Woza Nawe’, a term in one of the indigenous languages of Mzansi, Zulu, which means ‘Come with You’!
Yes, the Proteas and the Springboks have been so astute in their outlook, that they have not only inspired 60 million South Africans but also many more around the world including me to join them in a journey of belief.
Belief to win the World Cup with the Proteas all but secured of a semi-final spot in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 courtesy their rather nail-biting win over Pakistan a couple of days back.
And taking inspiration galore from their rugby counterparts who valiantly surmounted a fourth World Cup title in a tense win over the famous All Blacks in a historical final last night.
Let this sink in.
Well, a World Cup can only be won when players perform to the best of their potential and there is undoubtedly a 23- year old karate kid who is more than blending into this mould called Gerald Coetzee.
The young sensation from the judicial capital of South Africa, Bloemfontein has captured the imagination of one and all with his high risk, high reward approach in 2023.
High risk because of a high economy rate of 6.87 in ODI cricket, but more importantly high reward courtesy of the impressive 23 scalps he has garnered in just 11 games at a mighty fine average of 25 apiece.
If the wickets are coming at a rapid pace, does the high economy rate really matter?
Well to the purist it would but then again nothing is a bed of roses, is it? A job gets done and that is all that really counts.
Ask Eric Simmons, the bowling coach of South Africa and he will whole-heartedly agree with the way Coetzee has managed some prized scalps in this tournament.
Buttler caught by de Kock with a delivery that left him and Rizwan again caught by de Kock with a ball that got big on him. The delivery with prodigious movement and the other with absolute pace- what more would you ask of a pacer?
If this is not variety in bowling, then what is?
Coetzee has not only been a revelation for South Africa in ODI cricket but also the longer format which came first on the cards for this youngster thanks to the red ball coach Shukri Conrad.
Yes, the veteran of coaching South Africa in U-19 World Cups, Conrad immediately got Gerald in the red ball set-up when he was made head coach earlier this year having seen his potential during his U-19 days.
This at the expense of dropping the seasoned Lungi Ngidi in the two-test series against the West Indies.
And the karate kid did not disappoint his ex-U19 coach by grabbing a notable nine wickets at a healthy average of 15 apiece. It was the feat that led white ball coach Rob Walter to pick Gerald Coetzee in the World Cup squad.
Quite remarkable has been the expedition of this youngster so far in the tournament having already amassed 12 wickets, second only to his compatriot Marco Jansen. Remember it’s Gerald Coetzee’s maiden World Cup campaign donning the blazing green, irrespective of format.
The intrepid Protea fan would hope his form continues if the ones with the fire have to lift their maiden World Cup.
Until then let’s keep walking with Gerald Coetzee, and more importantly South Africa, in their journey of self-realization and the will to win at all costs.