Forget about AB de Villiers and all the other problems. The Proteas need to start showing some serious backbone at the World Cup, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
Just over a year ago De Villiers dumped us via social media like a pimple-faced millennial. He announced his retirement from all international cricket with a video filmed at the Tuks High Performance Centre.
He started the video with a nervous ‘Hi…’, as he went ahead and brought our 14-year relationship to an end. The relationship was mostly a one-way street, as he dazzled and we admired. But we at least deserved a ‘Dear John’.
Kelly Clarkson’s ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ – was our theme song while stuffing our face with chocolate and spraying cans of whipped cream down our throats as we tried to get over being dumped with a cheesy video.
But we got over it.
We made peace, even though we saw his broad blade still flaying opposition attacks like it’s 2015.
Peace, however, that lasted until Thursday, 6 June 2019, when we found out he secretly wanted to come back.
AB probably also sent the selectors a ‘Hi’ – with the ‘waving hand’ emoji – when he wanted to go to the World Cup, much like that deadbeat boyfriend who wanted a second chance after cheating on you with his ex.
For a moment we were taken back to that post-breakup dark space again. We were back reaching for the whipped cream . ‘Why, AB? We’re already suffering too much. We’re still trying to deal with David Miller’s dropped catch against India’.
Faf du Plessis, Ottis Gibson and the selectors, however, stood firm when AB said ‘Hi’. Even though the good times definitely outnumbered the bad times in the relationship, they did the right thing by sticking to the players they decided to take to England.
No one has the divine right to play for South Africa, even if he can hit a reverse sweep for six… off a fast bowler… bowling at 145km/h.
So, in the same way that they backed the players ahead of AB, it’s time for those players who made the trip to actually stand up and be counted. To show why they were picked for this World Cup ahead of ‘Mister Hi’.
The Proteas have moved on from De Villiers, but they have to start showing it. They have to show it in their next game against the West Indies, who look like they too, are partial to the occasional brain explosion, as was the case in their previous match against Australia.
It’s basically ‘do-or-die’ stuff for the Proteas from here on in. There have been injuries, stories of poor preparation, a loss of form, three World Cup defeats and this drama surrounding De Villiers. But all those things must be put behind them. The cards have been dealt, and now is the time to play hard and smart.
‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.’
Character is something that comes from within, nobody can teach it. There is no instruction book how to use it when the chips are down. It can’t be coached by Gibson. These under-fire Proteas will have to dig deep and discover it for themselves.
Gibson, Du Plessis and the selectors showed backbone when they decided not to take De Villiers to the World Cup. Now the players have to show that type of bottle on the field.