On the one side, you had a team which had played 6 World Cup Semi finals (I repeat, 6 World Cup Semi finals) and was yet to feature in a single World Cup Final. On the other, you had a team whose worst enemy was luck.
You always knew that when NZ and SA would clash for a spot in the World Cup 2015 Final, the result was going to be unfortunate, irrespective of who wins. Both teams truly deserved to play the World Cup final (IMHOHO). If one team had bowlers hunting in packs and batsmen who strike at 200 (or above, BMac, case in point) for fun, the other team had too many awesome players (both on the field and off it) for anyone to even think about hating them.
So, when Grant Elliott nailed the match with a six over long on off Steyn, there were a million hearts broken; not all of them were of South Africans’. I (like millions of others) could not just move on. We were gutted. We felt cheated. We didn’t see it coming. We completely empathized with the Proteas. We just couldn’t resist breaking down, on seeing sights of SA players crying on the field. Eden Park suddenly seemed a holy place.
AB de Villiers and his army were men on a mission. They really really wanted to make it to the World Cup final. And this edition was their best chance. AB de Villiers! Whatte man! I don’t think any of us acknowledge how fortunate we are to live in an era when this man ruled cricket! Think about it. We are living in a time when Abraham Benjamin de Villiers is playing cricket. Can we safely assume he’s the best ODI player ever? (In a list that includes Sachin Tendulkar, Sangakkara, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli). I will.
A rational person could argue, “It’s just a match. One team has to lose, after all”. Agreed. But now, it’s not about being rational. It’s more than that. SA dropped two potentially match-winning catches and missed two run out chances at crucial points. Logically, by committing those mistakes, SA deserved to lose. But it was beyond all of that. When emotions seep in, rationality takes a back seat. I am sure even die hard supporters of the Black Caps would have felt for the Proteas. Today, I am officially ashamed of calling SA “Chokers”, in the past, even jokingly.
Talking about NZ supporters, what a crowd they were today, at Eden Park! Giving a standing ovation to the losing Captain ABD was truly special. In my mind, they’ve risen above the Chepauk crowd that gave a standing ovation for the winning visiting team (Pakistan) in 1999.
That’s how awesome Cricket as a Sport is! Neutral observers experience heartbreaks, crowds cheer for opponent teams after a match, players console each other after the game! The guy who called Cricket a Gentleman’s game didn’t call it without reason.
AB de Villiers and Co., all I have to say to you is there’s no shame in this defeat. You were truly sensational! You can go back to South Africa with your heads held high!
Written by a gutted Proteas supporter after the 1st Semifinal of Cricket World 2015 between NZ and SA on 24th March, 2015 at Eden Park, New Zealand.