world : How do South Africa move on from more World Cup agony?

world : How do South Africa move on from more World Cup agony?
world : How do South Africa move on from more World Cup agony?

Monday 1 July 2024 10:32 PM

Nafeza 2 world - Proteas captain Aiden Markram, who showed impressive leadership throughout the tournament and cut a calm figure even when chaos swirled around him, stressed the need for pride amid the disappointment.

He is right. The South Africa players and their supporters should feel proud of what they achieved - a first men's World Cup final in either format after seven semi-final defeats.

But they still do not have a World Cup trophy in the cabinet. The years of hurt tick on. How do they take that next step?

There will be some changes. Wicketkeeper De Kock has often joked cricket is not his true love and he would rather spend his time on a river boat, wrestling with jagged-toothed tigerfish.

But the face he wore at the close revealed a man who wanted little more than a title for his country. Having already retired from Test and one-day international cricket, his well might have finally run dry.

Klaasen is 32. David Miller is 35. Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj are both 34. Anrich Nortje is 30. Most others are in their 20s and have long careers ahead of them. The future is bright.

But one wonders what such a close-run loss must do to the psychology of players who have fielded questions about choking from the time they first pulled on the green and gold of their country.

Let’s address the issue of choking. This was categorically not a choke.

How could it be when only the most one-eyed South African supporter would not have given their team anything more than a puncher’s chance?

India are, by some distance, the best white-ball side on the planet. Were it not for their capitulation in the 50-over final against Australia last year, they would hold both limited-overs trophies.

Bumrah is the best all-format bowler in the world, possibly the best of all time. Their spinners have run through batting line-ups at will. Virat Kohli is one of the greatest to ever hold a bat.

There is no shame in losing to this outfit. Calling this a choke is both inaccurate and lazy.

There will be questions over Jansen’s position at number seven, arguably one place too high. But his bowling was a key feature of South Africa’s run to the final.

There will be questions over Klaasen’s dismissal that sparked the collapse, but one could just as easily focus on Hardik Pandya’s cleverly disguised slower ball that drew the edge.

There will be questions over Miller’s inability to hit a full toss for six but that is only a consequence of one of the greatest catches of all time.

There will be questions over De Kock’s poor shot that picked out the boundary rider and why Maharaj kept the strike at the end of the 18th over. That’s the thing about tight games. There are always question to ask.

Many respected journalists and commentators have already asked if this defeat should be included in the pantheon of South Africa chokes. Some have already made their mind up.

It’s a misguided question with an inaccurate conclusion.

The only question that should concern the Proteas is the direction of travel of a side that went toe-to-toe with a giant of world cricket and almost came out on top.

Where do they go from here? Despite the pain, the outlook is positive.

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