TELFORD VICE in London
THE 2017 Champions Trophy is dead. Long live the 2019 World Cup. Kill us now, please.
It’s as awful as thoughts on sport get that, two years from now, South Africans will tell themselves it won’t happen again — and then feel the python of anxiety slither around their soul as they wait for it to happen again.
What the hell is wrong with us?
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
That’s Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein or Narcotics Anonymous; take your pick.
Whoever. Whatever. It’s the damn straight truth, and the kernel of South Africans’ dysfunctional relationship with their team.
We know too well for our own emotional wellbeing that South Africa do dumbass things at major tournaments.
A stupid runout, or two, or even three, a catch recklessly thrown up before it was, legitimately, a catch, rain rules misread negligently …
Enough with South Africans’ indulgence of the miserable failings of compatriots who are paid, handsomely, to fly the national flag on the cricket field.
If we had to do our jobs as badly as they do theirs when it matters most that they do them properly, would we keep those jobs?
No. Unless we’re in politics. But Jacob Zuma and Helen Zille are only two among us.
This columnist doesn’t refer to the team as “the Proteas” because that’s a marketing fiction that undermines a guiding principle of journalism: a newspaper – or cellphone – reader on a bus in Hong Kong is far more likely to know who South Africa are than “the Proteas”.
But he may revise that stance because he is no longer satisfied that this team deserve to be called “South Africa”.
Asked after the embarrassing mess that was the Champions Trophy match against India at The Oval last Sunday whether “there’s a more radical shake-up that’s required in South African cricket to change the way things go”, AB de Villiers said: “That’s a question that can only be answered by people who are in control of making radical decisions.”
Here’s a radical thought: stop sending this team to tournaments.
The suits will, of course, balk at that. There is too much money to be lost excising them from the equation, no matter how inept they are when the pressure mounts.
Besides, the suits will tell us, disingenuously, that that could happen without intervention.
Entry to the Champions Trophy is restricted to the top eight teams in the rankings, while the 2019 World Cup will involve the top eight and two qualifiers. At the World T20, all 10 full members of the International cricket Council are joined by six lesser members.
The team hitherto known as “South Africa” could, then, be weeded out of two of those events.
Fair enough. Except that they do not struggle to win bilateral series. So their ranking is invariably, and artificially, high.
Here’s another thought: use a different rankings system for the World Cup and Champions Trophy, based solely on teams’ records in those tournaments.
Reckon that’s madness? See paragraph four above.