The fire that never burned.

The cricketing world had to wait for a long time for this particular team to arrive at the grand stage, with the inception of the white ball and colored uniform, the world was waiting for the 50 over format World Cup.

That was not the only thing they were waiting for, it was the same year when the cricketing world was about to welcome the country which had fought its way through apartheid, and the people were ready to see the players that they had only heard of and they didn’t disappoint.

Under the captaincy of Kepler Wessels, they thrashed the then defending champions Australia by a 9 wicket win, winning five games out of the eight, qualifying to the semifinals only to be knocked out by England because of an absurd rain rule. Only 12 minutes of rain was enough for shattering the dreams of the Proteas to reach the final of the first-ever World Cup they had ever played and alas, who would have thought that the curse of 1992 World Cup would haunt them in all the years to come.

The next World Cup was in the subcontinent and South Africa topped their group with a five-match unbeaten streak only to be knocked out by West Indies in the quarterfinals. The next World Cup in England was the most controversial World Cup that left a mark on the team till even now, be it the Herschelle Gibbs and Steve Waugh “you just dropped the World Cup” incident, or the popular Allan Donald and Lance Klusener runout (Cringe). It again made us think about the fire they have but how they always ran out of luck and gas when they needed it the most.

Even in the World Cups after that, the story remained the same, be it the 2003 World Cup which they hosted only to be denied a place in the  Top 4 because of a rain-affected tie versus Sri Lanka. South Africa has reached the knockout stage of every World Cup except for the 2003 World Cup, which makes them the most consistent team to reach the knockouts of the World Cups after Australia

But now things are different, the team more or less is in a mode of transition and the new quota system has not really helped them much. The next World Cup is less than a year away and the Proteas team has already lost the force called Ab De Villiers and maybe for the first time, they won’t be starting as one of the favorites to win the ever elusive Cup.

The pressure of expectation would not be much and as we have seen in recent past with Pakistan going as least favorites to actually winning the Champions Trophy, one only thinks, “Is the 2019 World Cup a chance to get the “chokers” tag out and rewrite history?”

Maybe this time they don’t have the big names, but the talent is no less with players like Kagiso Rabada spearheading the bowling, and a senior campaigner like Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis who are already at the twilight of their careers, and would want to end their careers on a high, but it would not be easy with the likes of Morne Morkel and De Villiers already gone but as a cricketing fan, I want the Protea Fire to come hard, all-guns-blazing, to create history in 2019 and burn the curse that has been with them for all these years.



Posted in Saim Mir.