Big Friendly and I watched and listened to most of the damn cricket yesterday with that special sinking feeling reserved for the Proteas in a world cup scenario. And I have a conspiracy theory brewing that is round about the same size as the Hansie saga. They threw the game. It is the only explanation that I can come up with for what seemed to have happened.
Obviously, things go wrong on the day. That’s cricket. But when it is a long list of terrible I get that Hansie feeling. Bad and unlucky batting can happen to any team on any day, but really AB, what were you saving yourself for in the batting innings? And then please explain the Morkel over that killed us when clearly the spinners were up for doing the job?
I listened with growing dismay to radio 2000 as Peter Kirsten got more and more emotional about the bad decisions and their results. Eish, that loss hurt. And the worst part is that it’s all too familiar in a world cup scene.
Big Friendly suffers from road rage. I, on the other hand, get Protea rage. I have had to literally calm down after yesterday’s perfect example of what not to do in a quarter-final, before trying to write anything because I have been so woes!
The reason I am beyond myself with anger is because I saw it coming, and yet, still, I hoped, prayed and totally believed that I would be proved wrong and be labelled a fickle supporter. In fact I was desperate to be wrong. And I think, with hindsight, me and a couple of violently vocal disappointniks all felt the same way.
On paper it the New Zealanders weren’t even in the race when compared with the calibre of the Proteas. But the Proteas absolutely did not have what it took, and no amount of shouting, tweeting, cursing, begging and groaning from their desperate supporters could get them into a winning state of mind.
Yesterday’s game was hard because of the loss, but also how they lost. And it reminded me of the loss against England, and even the win against India, which, if we are totally honest, could have gone the other way if Dhoni had chosen a different bowler in the last over.
I can feel myself getting all worked up, again. And this is not good. We deserve better. I swore I wouldn’t watch the rest of the competition, but I can’t help taking a peak to see what the Proteas just tossed away. Sies. Not good enough boys. And I don’t care what anyone says, they are going to have to earn the dropping of the title ‘chokers’.
At Cracks Only last night (which was really good fun) the joke was, what’s the Proteas favourite drink? Brandy and choke!
Exactly five years ago yesterday Big Friendly and I left the house grumpy and depressed. It was about 1230 and we had to leave the Proteas, who were being taken to the cleaners by Australia at Wanderers, to go to Tandi’s birthday picnic at Deer Park Cafe. BF and I were sulky and woes. It was a foregone conclusion that the Proteas had lost. Sies. We got home later that arvie and turned on the box. I remember calling Big Friendly and saying, “Look, they’ve got the required rate and the current run rate figures mixed up!” But they hadn’t. It was right. The Proteas were right there, in the game. I remember my brother phoning. He had decided to go to Wanderers for the second half. I remember the crowd screaming so loudly I couldn’t hear a single word he said. The famous 438 game. And we had missed the whole middle section.
Yesterday Big Friendly and I stopped listening to radio 2000 when India were 197 for 1. We had watched the first 20 or so overs, when the Indian batsmen had taken the SA bowlers and fielders to the cleaners. Suffice it to say I was woes. We listened on the radio as the commentators predicted a score of 400, doubling what India had done in the first 30 overs. It felt like a lost cause for sure. We got out of the car at Silvermine; a picnic for Tandi and Nova’s birthday. We nagged everyone who came after us for an update. It got worse before it got slightly better and then everyone had arrived and there was no news for a while.
Imagine our unbelievable surprise when we got into the car and found out that the Indians had not even seen through their 50 overs. They had tumbled to 296 all out! There was a glimmer of hope. Only Smith was predictably out.
What followed was the slow, grinding agony, adding to the misery of me feeling the effects of a cold. I lay on the couch complaining bitterly about Amla and Kallis and how damn slow they were. I felt hopeless when AB needed Hashim to run for him. I was desperate when Botha was out first ball after a 6. And then, Peterson came and won the game. He won the game. I was so confused about why Dhoni didn’t let Harbhajan bowl the last over, but I didn’t care. I was literally on the edge of my seat, looking through my hands, swinging wildly between hope and horror, just like the massive crowd, only wanting different results.
That game took years off my life. If I think about it though, I wouldn’t like to have spent those lost years feeling like I did yesterday. It was all too much. This cricket! Yo!
I was having a chinwag with Brett from TheatreSports on Monday night. He is the most passionate, dedicated and positive Proteas supporter, and we were discussing the game on Sunday between England and SA. Brett managed to put a positive spin on the shocking situation, saying that Sunday’s game was a good time for the Proteas to be shocked out of any complacency, and to make sure they rallied, took it seriously and got properly prepared for the competition. He still believes that a South Africa India final is on the cards. The thing about Brett is his commitment and faith.
When I was reminded of what a loyal and enthusiastic and believing fan Brett is I had a complete flash of what was wrong with the Proteas in general, and with the captain Graeme Smith in particular, and I want to help!
You see, for almost twenty years I have been teaching and imparting the rules and philosophy of improvisation. Aside from saying yes to every offer, the essence of teamwork is developed and practiced. A wonderful space is created which allows for the taking of risks secure in the knowledge that there are other people out there (your team) to support you and even save you and make you look brilliant. And mostly, its about commitment and trust. It’s real trust, free of blame, inspired by the knowledge that the parts that make up the team are brilliant and that the whole is even greater than the parts.
The reason why this improv stuff would be fantastic for a sports team is that so much of the game scenario is similar to improv. When a game starts there is no way to predict an outcome, or even what will happen next. Cricket or TheatreSports; it’s the same. Everyone has practiced the rules and their skills, and each member of the team knows what they need to do; but they don’t know the ‘how’ of any game. Without a failsafe plan A, a contingency plan B, and an emergency plan C, improvisation becomes the best way of doing things! It’s about quickly assessing the situation, having all the trust, taking risks, being supportive, having total commitment and positivity. It is what prevents a team from becoming negative, defensive and afraid. It is the difference between responsibility and response ability.
It is also the best way for everybody to love what they do, and share that love with their fellow players and the spectators. It allows for moments of unplanned brilliance. It opens the door to the art of possibility. It creates a team who fundamentally, truly believe that they can win.
I am not seeing that with Graeme and his team. It feels like they are an old fashioned collection of men, with old rules of engagement, old fears, old names hanging like albatrosses around necks (Brett warned me not to say the ch..er word), and lacking in the brilliant vision of winning. And it makes me nervous. Then I look for someone or something to blame. Then I’m in the downward spiral of the negative, alienating and fearful. I believe that is the worst place to be if you want to shine. For me, I see them breathing sighs of disbelief relief when they somehow manage to win, and acceptance when they lose. It should be the complete opposite. They should feel like they were always meant to win, and should be entirely disbelieving when they lose; as if it were almost totally impossible to consider.
If anyone has a contact to the cricket team let me know. When they get back I want to teach the boys to improvise.
Friday night’s FUNdraiser for Natalie’s Circle of Love was a success! Thank you to the fab TheatreSports team (who were hilarious), the sellers, co-ordinators, actioners, families, friends, the Baxter, and everyone who made it a funny, warm, delicious way to support a good cause. For more on Natalie’s story and progress you can follow or comment on the website.
Other good stuff this weekend included spending time with my delicious sister-in-law, going to Muizenberg beach, making interesting fishcakes, chilling out, maxing, relaxing.
But not everything about the weekend was good. Now I need to be brave for what needs to be discussed; the Proteas and their CWC campaign. Nobody could believe what happened yesterday; losing to England by six runs! I would like to give my completely laywoman’s opinion. My opinion. Graeme Smith makes me nervous. A good leader/captain should be able to be crystal clear in separating his/her own performance and the needs of the team. Graeme can’t. He doesn’t think things through deeply enough. Why, when having committed to the incredibly brave idea of opening with spin, did he not follow through with it later? Why? Why do I get nervous when Graeme is at the crease? I hold my breath, and only breathe out when the inevitable happens and he goes out. (I even do this when he does well!) What about the field? Lately I have had the feeling that the bowlers are out there on their own, and have to win or lose the game themselves. This seems weird when the Proteas have been known as a great fielding side, but with bad field placing, too much is given away. I know that I am whinging, but yesterday’s game was so hard to swallow (choke, choke). The Proteas had it in the bag! It was a sure-fire thing. How did they manage to lose it? (Do I need to get suspicious about match fixing?) For cricket’s sake! England lost to Ireland in the week!
Nothing has changed. I am still 100% behind the team. I am just 100% more nervous.
Big Friendly will be upset with me for this post. And Brett too. Most cricket lovers I know want to support the Proteas through thick and thin; marriage kind of supporters. I get accused of blowing hot and cold; and I do, depending on the state of our National team, and right now I am pretty nervous.
The World Cup starts in a month’s time in India. And, once again I think the Proteas are nowhere near ready. Don’t get me wrong, I would love nothing more than for the Proteas to win a WC, but it would be so great feeling like they were going into it with a well rounded, experienced and confident team who would put their best foot forward. Instead, I think we are going to have to rely on quite a bit of luck, things ‘going their way’ and lucky charms, prayers and talismans.
Yesterday’s decider against India is a case in point (‘scuse the pun). Just when it seemed that the Proteas had it in the bag, in both the batting and bowling innings, they went mad! Four wickets fell while I was blowing my nose. Pathan scored a 100 and almost threw the pathetic Duckworth Lewis total decided for India for a loop! It was chaos out there man! Everyone is so erratic. If Amla has a good day he makes a 100, if he doesn’t he is out for single digits. Morne Morkel scores a wicket with his one hand, misses a catch with his other, then performs a “giraffe” catch that saves the day! The fielding goes from brilliant (Biff’s catch yesterday was superb and so was Faf du Plessis’ one) to weak, in the same over!
I am so, so nervous. Anything can happen with this team. And I am so confused. I wish I was just a little surer.