Another golden goose chase for Proteas

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Just over a year later the World T20 in India afforded them another opportunity to end a nation’s 18-year wait for a major ICC title.

Their place in South African cricket history would also have been unheralded, especially considering the honours the majority of this side have already achieved in the Test arena for the past decade.

But like when they first came together at a major tournament way back at the 2011 World Cup here on the subcontinent, there has only been one disappointment upon another since.

This World T20 has been no different with earlier defeats to England and West Indies rendering Monday’s final Group 1 clash against Sri Lanka meaningless. In the aftermath of the Windies defeat, Proteas T20 captain Faf du Plessis was particularly scathing of the senior core within his team, saying: “The difference in getting across the line in big games is when big players step up”.

Time is surely running out for the likes of AB de Villiers (32), Hashim Amla (32), Dale Steyn (32), Imran Tahir (36), Du Plessis (31) and J P Duminy (32) to “step up” when it matters most.

They had already lost warhorses like Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis to retirement ahead of the 2015 World Cup, while Morne Morkel was considered surplus to requirements for this World T20 and is believed to be now considering his limited-overs future.

De Villiers has already spoken of “managing his workload” going ahead, which could possibly mean cutting out one format from his everincreasing playing schedule. Considering he holds the position of Proteas Test and ODI captain, it is more than likely to be T20 Internationals.

Amla and T20 cricket has also never been a perfect fit, while Steyn has been carrying drinks at this World T20 since the opening game against England.

Duminy’s high injury count of late will also surely be source of reflection which could see the all-rounder consider his future, although it is more than likely that he will prefer the shorter formats over the exertions of firstclass cricket.

Amla, however, brushed aside the suggestions that there could soon be a clearout of the Proteas dressingroom as the motivation unquestionably remains strong to not follow in the footsteps of England football’s ‘Golden Generation’, who under coach Sven-Goran Eriksson were littered with big-name players but ultimately never won a major trophy during the mid- 2000s.

“The team is always going to have a few members leave and a few members filling their positions as the years go by and we are seeing that happening.

As far as this being ‘Golden Generation’ we often joke about it.

“If you look at the 1999 (Proteas) team that lost in the semi-final, people would say that was a golden generation because they had such exceptional players.

“We are just hoping that we keep doing well and that when we get to a World Cup or an ICC Trophy, everything fits in really well where we can play our best cricket,” Amla explained to the media at the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground yesterday. The former Proteas Test skipper believed that another chance to end the heartache is not that far away though, citing the 2017 Champions Trophy in England.

“There is Champions Trophy next year and we are still extremely keen to play international cricket. A lot of us feel that there are still a few years left in us. It would be great for us to get to the next 50 overs World Cup which would be ideal. But we will take it as it comes, as long as you’re fit and healthy and scoring runs and warrant your position in the team then we can go on,” Amla explained.

However, before such longterm planning can take place Amla and his teammates will need to find the mental strength to focus on a game that means nothing in the context of this tournament. Both teams have already been eliminated and are struggling with injuries.

The Proteas will not risk playing Duminy as he is still busy with his rehabilitation programme on his injured hamstring, while Sri Lanka will follow suit in regards to captain Angelo Matthews, who hurt his hamstring during his epic knock against England on Saturday.

The Star

The World T20 in India afforded the Proteas another opportunity to end a nation’s 18-year wait for a major ICC title...

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