Saturday, September 22, 2007
Are We Chokers?
So we won against the Tongans. What was the score? 30-25 to us or to them? Skinstad - wearing a red Tonga shirt - called it correctly when he said it could 'easily have gone the other way'.
And this is Tonga (and prayers to God) right? Not New Zealand, not Australia, not even England! What was all that hype after the England game about 'we [the Boks] weren't going to let them [England] through our defence to score anything'. Suddenly the Bok defence becomes a permeable membrane. What is going on guys? One minute invincible, the next pushovers?
We've been here before. Are our guys (ruby players and cricketers) capable of doing the hard work? Yes. Have they got the guts and determination? Definitely. Do they believe in themselves? Yes - but only to a point. And therein lies the rub.
You can't fault our guys for not being consistent. Why? Because motivation and inspiration can't lie. When the pressure is immense enough, the flaws begin to show. And the flaws lie deeply in the South African psyche. Stuff that won't surprise anyone in this country: quotas, corruption, management style, the culture of dishonesty that insidiously declares: this is what South Africa is all about. All that bad stuff that goes on unrepresented...can we truly stand up and say we represent the country...in other words...only the good stuff? It's a false statement, and we know it.
South Africa has a lot to learn about how to approach greatness. It should not be a selfish psychology (even if you can carry off the pretense that it isn't). Officials need to do service to the sport, so to the players. Too many people are in service to themselves. So there's a lack of trust. And a lack of trust causes a lack of confidence, and a lack of confidence brings about a lack of consistency. Ergo: when it comes to the big match points. Can he kick it over, can our cricketers make a conventional tally? Not every time.
That is the difference between our teams and the New Zealanders and Aussies. Their confidence is real because it is based on reality. Theirs is a unity in management and also amongst the players. Sport wins. Not individuals. Agendas are not in play. Racial cards adminsitrative power plays are not tossed onto boardroom tables at a moments notice.
We've seen our cricketers choke in all the big games. Will the Boks rediscover their true grit? Will they be able to play like a unified team? What if 15 players had the strength of an entire nation? We may never know.