HAS THE TIDE TURNED FOR THE PROTEAS?
African News Agency
WE ALL know that the Proteas and Cricket World Cups aren't the best of bedfellows, but that nightmare pairing reached new depths of despair this week. An email from Cricket South Africa arrived this week screaming in bold caps: “CSA CONGRATULATES PROTEAS ON QUALIFYING FOR 50-OVER WORLD CUP”. Now, for those Proteas fans who have lived through the horrors of the 1992, 1999, 2003 and 2015 World Cups, it would have been hard for even them to imagine that one day, just making it to the showpiece tournament would result in the team receiving well wishes. The context around this week's development is that Cricket SA opted out of a one-day international series against Australia earlier this year and instead hosted the inaugural SA20 domestic tournament, which proved to be an unprecedented success as fans flocked to local grounds once more to watch the Proteas stars up close. So, there would have been great relief in the CSA corridors when the national team had their place confirmed with automatic qualification for the World Cup in India in October and November, and they avoided having to go through the ignominy of playing in a qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe. And the irony would not have been lost on the powers that be that rain had a hand in that outcome. Ireland are facing Bangladesh in a three-match ODI series in England at the moment, and needed a 3-0 whitewash to achieve automatic qualification themselves at the expense of the Proteas. But the first game on Tuesday was called off due to rain, with the Irish on 65/3 in the 17th over, chasing 247 for victory. Proteas captain Temba Bavuma said in a statement: “Personally, it will be a major honour and privilege for me to be leading the team in my first ever 50-over World Cup, and I hope we can achieve some good things as a team.” So, has the tide turned when it comes to the Proteas and rain involving World Cups? Let's hope that there will be a real cause for celebration for Bavuma, CSA and Proteas fans on Sunday, November 19, at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, the venue for the World Cup final.