I have long been a defender of the Proteas, particularly during world events, when the pressure is at its highest. But I struggle to defend this latest sorry exit from the ICC Champions Trophy.
The most loyal fans have been hit hard by an uninspiring campaign that defied a season filled with historic highs and milestones galore. Depressingly, the wait for silverware continues...
Most of the Proteas’ fan base do not remember the moment 18 years, 7 months and 12 days ago when Hansie Cronje’s unbeaten 61 led South Africa to a four-wicket win over the West Indies to capture the Wills International Cup in Dhaka, the precursor to the modern-day Champions Trophy, and the last time South Africa held a trophy of global significance.
What they do know is that the team sent to represent SA at the tournament was once again the best-performing country among the world’s best, and included two ODI batsmen in the world’s top 5, not to mention the number one and two ODI bowlers in the world.
And yet there was not a single team performance in the warm-ups preceding the series, nor in the tournament’s three group stage fixtures, befitting a world-conquering Proteas squad.
The initial reaction to the eight-wicket humiliation at the hands of India on Sunday included that quotas are to blame for SA failing at ICC events, while the ever-ready ‘Russell must go’ campaign drummed up a lot of attention on social media.
When the team wins, we are euphoric, when they lose, we blame quotas and the coach. Can we really blame another Proteas coach for a disastrous tournament exit?
Letting go of Russell Domingo solves nothing. Coaches have come and gone, and nothing has changed.
Should the players take responsibility? The Proteas go from one failed ICC tournament to the next, seemingly never in a position to explain or excuse the woeful record.
I agree that the dreaded post-mortem of our latest campaign must necessarily involve an assessment of the coach as one of the figures to give account, and I have no doubt that Domingo will face the panel unflinchingly.
Who else will stand by his side, and take responsibility? After a season where this team hunted and excelled as a pack, the Proteas appeared to go into their shells, bewilderingly opting for a safety-first approach.
Where was the fearless, courageous approach fans marvelled at during the home summer? What changed?
It’s time for a new era in South African cricket and Cricket South Africa needs to make hard decisions.
Youngsters are champing at the bit to be given real opportunities.
Serial underperformers must man up and step aside, to make way for the new brigade who need enough time to settle into international cricket before being called on to perform on the world stage in 2019.
There is too much focus on what the present squad of players want, what they don’t want, and when they want to play. Selections are still made on player potential or leading reputations.
What about what the paying public wants?
I am always calling on the fans to stand by the Proteas, through thick and thin. When are the Proteas going to stand up for South Africa?
Kass Naidoo co-hosts Cricket Tuesday on Radio 2000 alongside Andile Ncube from 18:00 to 19:00. Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.