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Video caption, Huge moment as Hardik gets wicket of Klaasen for 52Article informationAuthor, Daniel GallanRole, Freelance journalist

1 July 2024

Where do South Africa go from here?

Their dramatic defeat by India in the T20 World Cup final in Barbados was at once a continuation of what has come before for South African cricket and something entirely new.

This was a case of history not repeating, but rhyming.

The Sydney rain in 1992, Allan Donald’s run-out in 1999, Shaun Pollock getting the maths wrong in 2003, Grant Elliott’s masterclass in 2015.

Against India on Saturday, the Proteas had the game in their grasp.

They needed 26 runs from 24 balls, with six wickets in hand and Heinrich Klaasen at the crease, unbeaten on 52 and launching 100m sixes that promised to exorcise demons older than six of the Proteas starting XI.

Spiritually, in their quiet moments alone, will these players have the mental strength to put the events of 29 June behind them?

Will those final four overs at the Kensington Oval ever truly be consigned to the past?

Or will the memories of Jasprit Bumrah’s genius, of Suryakumar Yadav’s world-class grab on the boundary, of yet another World Cup heartache haunt them and their long-suffering fans forever?

Now it seems only divine intervention can save an organisation that appears cursed for eternity.

Even though they went closer than they had ever gone before, and even though they pushed India harder than many expected, in the end it was not enough.

Video caption, Highlights: South Africa v India

Proteas captain Aiden Markram, who showed impressive leadership throughout the tournament and cut a calm figure even when chaos swirled around him, stressed the need for pride amid the disappointment.

He is right. The South Africa players and their supporters should feel proud of what they achieved – a first men’s World Cup final in either format after seven semi-final defeats.

But they still do not have a World Cup trophy in the cabinet. The years of hurt tick on. How do they take that next step?

There will be some changes. Wicketkeeper De Kock has often joked cricket is not his true love and he would rather spend his time on a river boat, wrestling with jagged-toothed tigerfish.

But the face he wore at the close revealed a man who wanted little more than a title for his country. Having already retired from Test and one-day international cricket, his well might have finally run dry.

Klaasen is 32. David Miller is 35. Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj are both 34. Anrich Nortje is 30. Most others are in their 20s and have long careers ahead of them. The future is bright.

But one wonders what such a close-run loss must do to the psychology of players who have fielded questions about choking from the time they first pulled on the green and gold of their country.

Video caption, Suryakumar takes incredible catch to dismiss Miller for 21 in the final over

Let’s address the issue of choking. This was categorically not a choke.

How could it be when only the most one-eyed South African supporter would not have given their team anything more than a puncher’s chance?

India are, by some distance, the best white-ball side on the planet. Were it not for their capitulation in the 50-over final against Australia last year, they would hold both limited-overs trophies.

Bumrah is the best all-format bowler in the world, possibly the best of all time. Their spinners have run through batting line-ups at will. Virat Kohli is one of the greatest to ever hold a bat.

There is no shame in losing to this outfit. Calling this a choke is both inaccurate and lazy.

There will be questions over Jansen’s position at number seven, arguably one place too high. But his bowling was a key feature of South Africa’s run to the final.

There will be questions over Klaasen’s dismissal that sparked the collapse, but one could just as easily focus on Hardik Pandya’s cleverly disguised slower ball that drew the edge.

There will be questions over Miller’s inability to hit a full toss for six but that is only a consequence of one of the greatest catches of all time.

There will be questions over De Kock’s poor shot that picked out the boundary rider and why Maharaj kept the strike at the end of the 18th over. That’s the thing about tight games. There are always question to ask.

Many respected journalists and commentators have already asked if this defeat should be included in the pantheon of South Africa chokes. Some have already made their mind up.

It’s a misguided question with an inaccurate conclusion.

The only question that should concern the Proteas is the direction of travel of a side that went toe-to-toe with a giant of world cricket and almost came out on top.

Where do they go from here? Despite the pain, the outlook is positive.

Source link : https://www.bbc.com/sport/cricket/articles/c886qel99ggo.amp

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Publish date : 2024-07-01 12:00:12

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Author : africa-news

Publish date : 2024-07-02 05:32:50

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