Proteas must get it right this time at T20 World Cup, says Aiden Markram

Aiden Markram believes the Proteas are well equipped to deal with the extra pressure of a World Cup. Photo: BackpagePix

Aiden Markram believes the Proteas are well equipped to deal with the extra pressure of a World Cup. Photo: BackpagePix

Published May 31, 2024


IN THE past, South Africa have always found ways to bottle World Cups.

The ‘C’ word hangs over the team because they are known for self-destructing at the showpiece event.

As a result, the level of hype or World Cup ‘fever’ is almost non-existent in South Africa, as if there is no World Cup on the horizon despite it being only two days away.

Remember when Proteas coach Rob Walter and Temba Bavuma landed at OR Tambo International Airport last year after losing the semi-final of the ODI World Cup in India, and fans did not show up to welcome them?

Even the media were a no-show as only a handful of journalists showed up.

Who can blame the country for its continued display of a lack of interest or faith in the national cricket team?

It is hard to forget the 1999 World Cup exit through the comedic Allan Donald run out, nor is it easy to move on from the time when South Africa failed to calculate the required DRS score in Durban in 2003, a grave error in the game, and earned the tag of the first country to be knocked out in the group stage of their own World Cup.

“The players seemed to be low in energy,” former head coach Mark Boucher said after his team were knocked out of the 2022 T20 World Cup by the Dutch minnows, questioning if it was perhaps not a result of the unusually early 10.30am start.

Now, who can take such a team seriously?

— ICC (@ICC) May 30, 2024

However, current Proteas captain Aiden Markram and his team will hope they can change this narrative during the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and US, which starts on Sunday with a match between the Americans and Canada in Dallas.

“We’ve had a few pressure games, especially at a World Cup, where we haven’t got over the line in the past year or two,” Markram admitted yesterday when speaking about their World Cup woes.

“We’ve tried to simulate it as best as we can from a preparation point of view. Hopefully when we get there we can get it right this time.

“We’ve all been playing a lot of cricket. Some guys have been playing in different leagues, competitions and series deciders, where there is extra pressure.

“We are hoping we can draw from that experience and that can help us if we get to that stage.”

South Africa will get their campaign started on Monday, when they play against Sri Lanka at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York (4.30pm start, SA time).

Some of the SA management might opt to get a look at the pitch at the new stadium tomorrow, when India take on Bangladesh in a warm-up game, to gauge the surface for the Sri Lanka contest.

At the same venue, the Proteas will face the Dutch on June 8 and Bangladesh two days later, before they travel to the Caribbean to take on Nepal in St Vincent for their fourth and last group fixture on June 14 (June 15, SA time).