Heartbreak in Bangladesh at the Cricket World Cup 2011

Outside the national stadium in Dhaka

Anyone feel a slight sense of deja vu? Once again the Proteas had so much promise and I really felt as if we could go all the way. I don’t think our team has been this balanced, and with so many options, since 1999. And yet, once more, we’ve failed to deliver.

In ’92, it was the rain. In ’96 we steamrolled through the group stages only to lose to the West Indies on the back of a very strange team selection (leaving out Donald) and with a dropped catch proving to be fatal. We all know what went down in ’99 while 2003 was the infamous D/L “cock-up” where we failed to properly understand the rules and what score was required to win. Unlike in 2007 when we weren’t just on the same level as the Aussies, this year we had a very strong team and one fails to understand what went wrong.

While it was so painful to watch us throw it away from 100/2 chasing only 222, I can’t forget what an incredible adventure it’s been following Biff and the boys round. There were very few South Africans in the crowd in Bangladesh and it was so special to be there.  And to watch South Africa play Bangladesh in Bangladesh.

It’s been an unforgettable experience seeing the boys play all their pool games (bar the Dutch) as well as a QF. Here’s hoping we finally fulfill our potential and win it in Aus/NZ in 2015.

For the record, there’ve been a few pictures in the paper (in Chennai and Dhaka) and a fair number of TV sightings since (a) there aren’t that many of us Saffas about and (b) we’re always fully kitted out and the hair is rather long! Thanks to everyone who messaged to say that they’d seen me singing my heart out at the anthems, dancingto Waka Waka or looking super glum in that disastrous QF.

A crowd gathers as we're interviewed
A crowd gathers as we’re interviewed

If it were not for the cricket, I would likely never have visited Bangladesh and I’m so chuffed I did. Who would have believed it but Dhaka is more chaotic than any Indian city I visited – swarms of people everywhere, mad traffic and a constant super hectic hussle and bussle (Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world). Bandeban, Bangladesh’s hill country, on the other hand is the polar opposite – peaceful, pretty and rather desolate.

The people are so friendly – we’ve had people offer to pay our bus rides, offer to chip in when we’ve said the hotel is above our budget, and also so curious – a crowd gathers in record time when you stop to ask someone a question. Again, I didn’t think it was possible but you are actually stared at more than in India.

As for our budget, it’s a tad cheaper than India but not by much. I did, though, have my cheapest meal of all time yesterday … a breakfast of three veg curries, three chapatis, three omelette’s and three Chai’s for 70 takas (US$ 1). It’s quite incredible and definitely only in this part of the world.

So that’s that – the 2011 Cricket World Cup is over for us. Having bought my tickets many months and with excitement building for so long, I can’t quite believe it’s all over and it has been very special to have experienced the world cup in a country where cricket is a religion.

I’m so happy I met and travelled with Dyl, Adam and Amy and I hope I’ll see them on the travels again. Next up, I’m heading to Nepal where I’m really looking forward to trekking in the Himalayas.

 

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