Rob Opie shifts the spotlight from the Rugby World Cup to the ongoing Cricket World Cup in India. The Proteas are on a mission to shed their historical “chokers” label and claim their first ICC World Cup trophy. Opie discusses key incidents from the past, including the heart-wrenching 1999 World Cup semifinal and a last-minute team change in 2015 that disrupted team culture. He emphasises the importance of maintaining a strong team culture, consistency, and confidence while minimising interference from administrators. Opie concludes by highlighting the Proteas’ potential to unite a divided nation through their performance. Fans eagerly await their performance in the semifinals.
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Can the Proteas go all the way this time? YES
By Rob Opie
“WE STAND FOR BELONGING, EMPATHY AND RESPECT” – THE PROTEAS
Our RUGBY WORLD CUP RUGBY HEROES are home and now the focus turns to India.
This time in India can our boys go all the way: India, Australia and New Zealand at this closing point appear to be the other semi –finalists? India to date is the only unbeaten team at the tournament and play South Africa in their last points table game on Sunday 5th.
This will determine who plays who in the semis.
The Proteas are a new team altogether – now playing excellent all round cricket with a new culture , but , The Proteas have never won an ICC World Cup 50 0ver trophy – and it can only be weighing on their sub –conscious minds . Their rugby counterparts have won a record four Rugby World Cups.
We are all eagerly watching a team that has recently completely re-engineered their “CULTURE “from ground level up – and are touring with a highly balanced squad.
The all-important first job which every new coach has to do is to create the right CULTURE within the team and build on it. In other words building FCB: FAITH, CONFIDENCE AND BELIEF – the recipe to keep the team focused on the present and the future.
But no team can run away from past happenings, and the Proteas have come close with no cigar on a number of occasions. Labelled as under-dogs at the start of this tournament – they are now amongst the firm favorites to clinch the ICC WORLD CUP TROPHY.
India knows this. This is a new Proteas team.
The past is the past where only learnings can be taken, but here is a brief summary of the incidents which will never go away – historic moments in cricket, where some commentators have been quick to label the Proteas as World Cup ‘Chokers?
Here is what sits in the player’s minds over a long Indian tour where every one of the nine final teams plays each to decide who plays in the semi-finals.
Luckily most of our players can call these home grounds due to the Indian Premier League experience.
ICC WORLD CUP INCIDENT # ONE
SEMIFINAL: SA VS AUSRALIA: Scores were tied. Allan Donald was famously run out at the 1999 World Cup semi-final at Edbaston, leading to South Africa’s elimination from the tournament. That day at Edgbaston, South Africa needed nine to win in the last over. Lance Klusener, who would be named the Player of the Tournament, was on strike against Damien Fleming.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, he still recalls the incident to BBC: where he had to go to see a therapist to overcome the mental side of his last ball run – out catastrophe with Lance Klusener.
It hurt badly, for a long period of time.
THAT’S JUST CRICKET.
It should never have happened, but is now past and the current team must dearly want to show the nation just how good they have become – post a number of tricky periods of administration.
ICC WORLD CUP INCIDENT # TWO
Gary Kirsten captained the Proteas team at the 2015 World Cup in Australasia. His team cruised into the semi- finals against New Zealand.
What happened next can be described as self- sabotage by adminstrators at the very top.
The culture and momentum which the team had built up was all but destroyed by one call from a top administrator in South Africa.
“Change you team was the message”
On the Saturday eve prior to the semi final – with his team already announced, Gary Kirsten was instructed from South Africa to change his team to bring in another player of colour. Now that may have played out as a victory, but all the players knew that the new player put into the side was carrying an injury. Unfair to all. And the player dropped also happened to be in the in-form of his life -playing a major role in their progress to semi-final.
There is only one word to describe last minute change – in a team carrying momentum: IT’S called DISASTER.
TEAM CULTURE GETS DESTROYED WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT WHEN TOP ADMININSITRATORS STEP IN TO CHANGE THINGS or/ MEDDLE WITH SELECTION.
It destroys the unity (‘peloton effect’) of any change room with momentum.
AB DE VILLIERS, the captain was gutted after his team had dominated the log stage.
“I have absolutely no idea what to do from here on in; I don’t even know when we’ll be going home. It’s going to take some time. As a captain I’ll be there for the guys as much as I can, there’s nothing we can do about it now.” Gary Kirsten’s post semi –final interview.
Now, what can the Proteas do having an opportunity / focus on bringing it home this time – like their rugby counterparts?
- Maintain and build on their current internal and external CULTURE, CONSISTENCY & CONFIDENCE
- Allow minimum interference from top administrators during the tournament– they were given their mandate before they left on tour
- Continue to build consistence over a long tour period , noting they play all the teams in the World Cup – there are no easy games
- Be sure to have stand-by players in squad in case of injury – they must get game time as well to cover this scenario.
- Drive TEAM RESILLIENCE, RESPECT FOR OTHERS IN THE TEAM AND UNITY and for ADMIMNISTRTORS TO TAKE A TOTAL BACK SEAT IN INDIA.
- Keep their focus on PRESENT and FUTURE action – forget past ‘choker’ mishaps in the semifinals – they are all history
- Players must know that they have FCB on their side: FAITH & CONFIDENCE & BELIEF
- And a little more luck this time around in India ( it is their second home grounds)
In a nation grappling with division and challenges, the Proteas have a chance to make us double proud in November and emerge as well as a unifying respectful force. Beyond their on-field prowess, their resilience and unity resonate as a beacon of hope for South Africa, as they inspire a diverse populace towards a common goal, their journey signifies more than just sporting triumph – it embodies the essence of national solidarity, respect and resilience.
Go Well Proteas, as you close out with a log-table game against an unbeaten India on Sunday 5th, and then it is all about knockout cricket in the semis.
You have the players, you have the team, you have the unity and you have the respect within the team – bring it home this time.
We will be watching in green.
“WE STAND FOR BELONGING, EMPATHY AND RESPECT” – THE PROTEAS
Well done to the Proteas who have grasped the bigger picture of sport.
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