As I sit here, I'm still in pain from what I witnessed today. It's not about being a sore loser or not being able to accept defeat but more the reality of almost crossing that line but being stopped short yet again. I, like many South African's got up at the ungodly hour of 3am, some earlier to catch the start of the first semi-final of the Cricket World Cup in Auckland, New Zealand. South Africa who wear the "chokers" badge in World Cups seemed to have shut critics up by not just winning their first knockout game of the competition but simply annihilating Sri Lanka in the quarter finals.
After the shaky start in the group stage it was a big surprise to see the squad rally together and produce a memorable effort against a top ranking team, the momentum and confidence from that game wasn't only evident in the players but also us the loyal fans going into the semi-finals. The opponents New Zealand may not be the most feared team in the world but when it comes to World Cups they do tend to have the better track record but even with home advantage, the Proteas were looking to dismiss them and advance to what would have been their first World Cup Final.
The game itself had everything in it and had us all glued to our seats till the very last over. Both sides gave it their all and whilst New Zealand were in the driving seat for most of the game, the Proteas didn't make them feel very comfortable. At the end, it took a 6 from the second last ball by a Johannesburg born man to send New Zealand to their first World Cup final. It was gutt wrenching to witness another Protea team fall short of expectations. As much as I felt sad for myself, one also had to spare a thought for the players.
Fair enough, I did tweet that we didn't give it all we had. The bowlers were below par today, especially the paceman apart from Morkel. Our opening batsmen failed again and our fielding was far from great with 3 notable dropped catches and 2 missed runout opportunities. Then again one has to look at the New Zealand tea, they also didn't have the best day on the field, drop catches earlier on which cost them runs. At the end of the day, it came down to which team could handle the pressure more and New Zealand just edged it.
Many brought up the "chokers" label which quite honestly pissed me off because we didn't choke today, we were just beaten by the better team. Our players showed guts and defiance today. After that mind blowing opening knock by captain Brendon McCullum, everyone thought our chances were gone but we managed to pull back the runrate and took the game down to the very last over. Chokers don't do that, they give up the game when they're in the commanding position, if anything New Zealand almost choked today, not us.
We've got great bunch of players and whilst I may not agree with the selections of the starting line up at times, they do pull off the odd surprise now and then. Our captain AB continues to set the world alight with his batting arrays, smashing records left, right and centre and long may he continue to do so. So to end it off, yes I am disappointed at our loss but I'm also proud of how hard we fought, many wouldn't have taken the game to such a dramatic conclusion and yes, while we did have missed opportunities, its not like we didn't try.
Keep the passion burning, Protea Fire!