I couldn’t take it. I was gutted. I broke down. I was heartbroken. I cursed the ‘luck’ factor. It was as if when they wrote the cricketing laws, someone secretly included that South Africa would never progress after the Semis. Then I saw the legend Abraham Benjamin De Villiers cry. I also spotted the tall lanky Morne Morkel weep, only to be consoled by Wayne Parnell. Camera turned around and I saw Faf Du Plesis look shattered. Dale Steyn was down. These are some tough people who played unbelievable cricket, batted for hours in testing conditions to save Test matches across the globe, take fifers with ease in the flat decks of Sri Lanka and India, chased down 434 in an ODI and also played tough cricket. They were no pushovers. And suddenly, I saw all these cricketers weep inconsolably. It was difficult to see.
I wasn’t even thinking of where did South Africa go wrong in losing this match. That was for some other day. Today, it should be all about sharing South Africa’s pain. Yes, we all admired New Zealand, their exciting bunch of cricketers and the brand of cricket they played. But our hearts said ‘South Africa. South Africa’. There was just too much sentiment with the Proteas. Except for the 40000 odd people in Eden Park and a million in New Zealand, every one in the world were cheering for the Saffers. May be it had to do with the unfair ‘C’ tag. or may be it was for AB De Villiers.
We all loved South Africa, didn’t we. The minuscule Quinton. Warrior Amla. Fabulous Faf. Steyn Gun. Killer Miller. Abraham Lincoln’s beard-inspired Imran Tahir, Tall Morne and of course the man himself, AB De Villiers. We even adored their predecessors. We knew what Duckworth and Lewis did to them in 1992. We remember that look on Lance Klusener’s face in 1999. We’ve read and heard about how unfairly, journalists used the word ‘Choke’ every time they bowed out in the knockout stages of a World Cup. And that’s why somewhere you secretly wished South Africa emerged victorious.
But sadly it didn’t happen. Is it South Africa’s loss or the World Cup’s loss that the former has never held the trophy. Nevertheless, spare your thought for the great AB DeVilliers. Jeez. Isn’t he the greatest cricketer in the world right now. Is there anyone who doesn’t have a ‘weak’ zone, scores with ease and class 360 degrees, improvises masterly, hits sixes disdainfully , plays inhuman shots, scores tons breathtakingly, fields acrobatically, leads inspiringly and does probably every thing possible on a cricketing field. Does he even realize his greatness? Dale Steyn was spot on when he said that ABD has no idea how good he is. If this is a fair world, I just wish and hope that ABD lifts the world cup one day.
I’ve grown up respecting the beautiful game and its servants, no matter which part of the world it was played and who played it. That’s the beauty of a sport, isn’t it. It transcends boundaries. We all stood up and saluted Wahab Riaz for THAT spell. Today we all sat back and shared South Africa’s pain. We sat back and thanked both the teams for giving us a cracker of a match. We sat back and adored the way the match was played. No swear words. No verbal altercations. No sledging. It was the purest form of cricket where it was a contest between bat and ball. I think both the teams can be extremely proud of it.
And dear South Africa, you can go back with your heads held high. Your country would be extremely proud of the way you represented them.