Last night, I can say, that all of my immediate South Africa was abuzz with excitement. Excitement and an underlying nervousness that, I guess, is part of achieving quarter-final success at the 2015 Cricket World cup and wanting a semi-final victory so bad that you could not fall asleep last night.
Now as I sit here in my office, staring at the despair captured in a picture of Morne Morkel after the match, I have to fight back tears that have been lurking shallowly below my lids since the result.
Know that these are tears neither of anger, nor disappointment. It is an overwhelming sense of severe grief. Heartache and pain I imagine you as a team must feel, having produced a showing of immense character on that field today. AB was very accurate when he said that you had left nothing out on that field tonight. Know that your country shares in your heartache and know that your team’s character stops not on the field, but extends to the hearts of all of us that were there this morning at 03:00AM. Those of us that were there all the way ‘till the second last ball of the forty-third over.
We saw the disappointment in Hashim Amla’s walk back to the pavilion and the agonizing disbelief on Quintin’s face as he walked off the pitch after sweating out seven, of the most brutal opening overs, I have seen the Proteas face in some time.
We were all filling our swear jars when AB and Faf had a close call run-out and we were taking to twitter in support. We heard the emotion in the voices of HD Ackerman and his guests on the SuperSport panel when discussing the potential impact of a rain delay.
All of our hearts skipped a beat when it was announced that overs were going to be reduced and we were resurrected when we heard that at least South Africa will have five more overs with AB and Faf at the wicket, with the likes of Miller to come. We cheered with one voice as Dave rushed to what seemed an imminent World Cup fifty record and sighed in anguish as he just fell short. We counted every run to see what the adjusted New Zealand total would be.
We were at our desks at work, in the cafeteria at campus, nervously reading and updating our WhatsApps and other live updates in class, when Brendon McCullem rampaged New Zealand to 70 odd off the first five overs.
Our faith was bolstered by the maiden over from Imran Tahir and the wicket in the following over from Morne Morkel. You had managed to drag the game back into your favor with these two wickets and you showed guts and unrelenting determination as you fought your way back to what seemed to become an ever increasing chance at victory.
We cried in disbelief, along with AB, when we missed a run-out opportunity. We were glued to our Radio 2000 broadcasts to experience all of the near run-outs, the catches the review to check if the spidercam cable interfered with the ball, the catch we dropped because we wanted it so bad we were willing to sacrifice everything!
We heard Shane Warne give Shaun Pollock an earful about the final over during the infamous 1992 SAvAus semi-final, but we also heard him back the Proteas, on air, at a time when most of your supporters were trying to prepare themselves emotionally for the likely reality of an impending loss. Still, we had hope.
This hope was transformed to belief when it was Dale and Morne bowling the 40th, 41st and 42nd overs and the required runs were, 29 from 17, 23 from 12, 19 from 9, 18 from 8, 14 from 7, 12 from 6.
We had abandoned every scheduled activity to watch our boys fight it out with guts and determination ‘till the bitter end. We sat in silence, in disbelief, two minutes after the last replay of the final delivery, as some of us still had faith in a miraculous victory, because we were as unprepared as you, to accept that it was over.
It aches here in your home country as it it ached for you on that field after the match, in the dressing room, as it will when you wake up tomorrow morning. We ache for you, for ourselves, together.
But know that we will forever be proud of you for your courageous effort on this immense occasion. We will forever be proud of you AB for the way you spoke humbly after the match. We are forever proud to be, the #ProteaFire.
Supportive South Africans