Jon Swift
3 minute read
13 Jun 2017
2:45 pm

The agony of watching the Proteas implode

Jon Swift

It is sometimes difficult to understand just where the Demented Irish Miner’s thought processes are heading as he meanders from one seemingly unconnected subject to the next.

Jon Swift

This is especially true of sport where he tends to passionately swathe in vivid abstract verbal splotches across the broad canvas afforded him. He is not, you will understand, a paint by numbers type of guy. But he does provide a distinct counterpoint in sporting discussions to the more measured conservative considerations of Dave the Silent.

The Miner’s first point of reference, predictably as he is an ardent Lions supporter and admitted fan of Warren Whiteley – down to having huge decals of the rampant lion which is the distinguishing mark of the Ellis Park side emblazoned across both sides of his muscle bakkie – was the resurgence of the Springboks in the first Test against France.

“You can see the influence of the Lions in the way they played at Loftus,” the Miner opined. “The team would also walk through a wall for Whiteley. It made all the difference from last year’s dismal showing. The Boks are back.”

It made no difference to the ebullient Miner that this was just the first step along a new journey of rediscovery, or that suggesting that the addition of thinkers of the game of the pedigree of Brendan Venter and Franco Smith to the coaching staff might just have had something to do with the apparent renaissance. Or that this was just the first in a three-Test series. “I’m telling you,” he said adamantly.

“The Boks are back. And on top of that, Bafana Bafana go to Nigeria and give them a klap on their home turf. It almost persuaded me to become a soccer supporter.” Again it mattered little that once again this was a single step forward for the national side’s attempt to reverse the slow slide in Africa Cup of Nations results from the pinnacle of being champions in 1996, to having to watch from the sidelines to failing to qualify for Gabon in February.

But uncharacteristically, the Miner was surprisingly downbeat – you might even say pessimistic – on the chances of the Proteas as the time approached for the mustwin meeting with India at The Oval.

“We start out well with a win over Sri Lanka and it all started going south from there,” he said. “We’ll see how they go against the Indians. South Africa haven’t looked anything like the topranked one-day side in the world.” And so it proved. Though Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla and Faf du Pessis provided a solid enough start at the top end, the South African innings imploded from 116/2 to 191 all out.

As the wreckage of the South African batting rained down in South London, the Miner, who had been restrained to this point, started passing a series of disparaging comments as AB de Villiers committed himself to a suicidal run-out.

“Here’s the start of it,” said the Miner. Then there was the ludicrous sight of two batsmen diving for the same crease. “I can’t believe what I am seeing,” he said. And when Chris Morris was suckered into playing a mistimed hook shot, the Miner lost it.

“They are not going to reach 45 overs.” In the event he was right. But he had had enough and reached for his keys. “If you are going to watch the Indian innings,” he said, “you won’t have to watch for long.” Again he was right … just 38 overs of agony in the analysis.”