Tears of despair have perhaps permanently settled as the irksome next door neighbors for every South African faithful including me.
Yes, they constantly come to knock at the intrepid fan’s door to magnanimously offer their heartfelt condolences every single time, repeatedly so when the Proteas are in it albeit not yet there to win it.
Well yesterday at the iconic Eden Gardens which was devoid of sunshine perhaps for a Protea loyalist too, was no different.
The Mzansi yet again failed to deliver in a scenario called the ODI World Cup semifinal when it mattered the most. A feeling of déjà vu which just doesn’t seem to end akin to a hopelessly long tunnel amid darkness galore.
The glimmer, well the surrender was not abject!
South Africa fought tooth and nail till the final mile and hope was still alive at least euphorically speaking.
They went toe to toe with the Australian might and the game seemed on a knife edge until the experience of Mitchell Starcand captain Pat Cummins was sufficiently enough to take OZ home for a record eighth World Cup final, a feat as envious as any.
Australia were on the ball from the get go, reducing South Africa four down in the first power play for a paltry 20 odd runs. The impact was so devastating on the usually destructive Protea batting, that truth be told they were really never in a strong position as the game progressed.
This despite, a certain David Miller taking the Australian Goliath head on albeit single handedly to record his first ton in this World Cup was a sight to behold.
The southpaw was simply superb with the way he handled the pace and swing of Starc and the immaculate line and length of Hazlewood early and then deposited Zampa for several maximums enroute to a resolute century.
If only he would have been supported by the other Proteabatters for a length of time, South Africa could have piled a lot more than the final 212.
Well this wasn’t to be.
Having said this, credit has to go to the Protea bowlers particularly the likes of Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi and Gerald Coetzee who kept South Africa in the hunt despite Rabada and Jansen been taken to the cleaners by Warner and Head at the inception of the Australian innings.
South Africa have surely showed fight but alas it wasn’t really enough?
As mentioned earlier in the piece, Australia were undoubtedly more intent oriented and purposeful on the day to march ahead to the all-important final.
They will now lock horns with the charismatic Indian cricket team in the colossal Narendra Modi stadium this approaching Sunday, who perhaps have as much chance of losing this World Cup as a carnivore looking to gulp greens.
For the Proteas, it was perhaps yet another tale of what could have been.
But having said that, here’s something one mustn’t undervalue.
One should still take heart from the fact that the sporting Gods were kind on the Proteas in 2023 with the women’s team contesting their first T20 World Cup final, the rugby team winning their fourth World Cup, and the men’s cricket team making a semifinal when few expected them to do.
Life is all about creating opportunity in the face of adversity and perhaps the Proteas have shown this in fair measure.