By Lucky Vince Pienaar
Proteas captain, Temba Bavuma, famously told TimesLive that the idea of stepping down ahead of the Cricket World Cup semi-final against Australia did not cross his mind.
“I would never consider stepping down in a semi-final — that I would never consider,” he said.
But he also said: “Decisions I make will always be for the betterment of the team.”
What if stepping down on that specific day was for the betterment of the team?
Of course, when he decided to go in as opening bat instead of letting another player take his place, he didn’t anticipate going out for a duck in the first over.
And now, after the match, would it not be better for him to simply state that he had made an error of judgement?
Now the poor man is left with the unenviable task of defending their defeat in the semi-final by saying how well they did compared to other Proteas teams — and arriving at OR Tambo without any cheering crowds.
The truth is, there has been a sullenness in the Proteas camp for many seasons, and ironically, Bavuma has come very close to shaking that attitude. How much pressure or support he gets from Cricket SA nobody knows. The organisation has traditionally laboured under the reputation — rightly or wrongly — that it has a debilitating political agenda.
And Bavuma has done well with that uphill battle.
He asks by what yardstick do you measure a good captain?
Well, you don’t. You can’t measure attitude with statistics. You can’t measure grit, you can’t measure spirit or the desire to fight.
But you can see it and you can feel it.
Hate them or love them, Australia has that spirit. They don’t always win, but they always fight. In the final, their determination to battle stood them in good stead.
These days, the Proteas don’t seem to panic — they just seem so very willing to lose.
They need to develop a fighting spirit, and once they’ve got that, they can expect to see cheering crowds at the airport — win or lose.
Pictured above: Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock.
Image source: X