South African cricket has grown so accustomed to having superstars in their teams that when captain Temba Bavuma and coach Rob Walter announced their final 15-man squad for the World Cup, many gave them no chance.
In this new era, there’s no imposing figure at the top table addressing the media pre- and post-match, like it used to be under Graeme Smith, Shaun Pollock or Hansie Cronjé, to name a few.
Instead, a small, soft-spoken man in Bavuma carries out the leadership duties for a country rich with cricketing history.
The differences between the eras are difficult to sink into the minds of the South African public and the world at large.
There’s no superstar of the calibre of AB de Villiers in this new era, and no player with all the exciting and out-of-the-box shots to set crowds alight.
Instead, there are 30-something-year-olds who have taken a relatively long time to acclimatise to international cricket, players that have been ruled unfit to take the crown from the greats of the past.
This side has players that were earmarked to be greats of the game early on in their careers, but through the unrelenting pressures of international cricket, have fallen short in the eyes of the public.
To everyone’s surprise, Bavuma and his men, far away from being regarded as immortals in the cricketing space and with all their imperfections, have taken the world by storm.
Yes, it has only been nine days since the start of the tournament and it is only two matches that the South Africans have played in India.
But also, it has taken this group of mere mortals under nine days to break world records, to set new ones and beat the sport’s most successful team, Australia, by a whopping 134 runs – a feat no past Proteas team can boast about.
The time is right to get behind this group of players as they are a true reflection of our country – imperfect and a work in progress.
South Africa return to World Cup action on Tuesday when they take on the Dutch.