Four years ago I was following the Proteas, South Africa’s national cricket team, around India and Bangladesh for the 2011 World Cup. I was all but one of our pool games and was incredibly lucky to see us beat the hosts in a thriller in a Nagpur, a game in which Sachin scored a hundred and with noise levels I have never experienced at any sporting stadium before.
From that unforgettable high in Nagpur followed the heartbreak in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where we meekly threw it in the quarter-final against New Zealand. Many tears were shed that evening as we sat shell-shocked and unable to comprehend just what we had seen.
This time round I wasn’t fun-employed and backpacking around the world unfortunately and was thus only able to see one game, a repeat of that wonderful day in Nagpur. I was in Australia for both the World Cup and friend’s wedding and in case you’re wondering, it’s no coincidence it was a week before our game! Whilst down under for two weeks we headed to Tasmania to walk the Overland Trek and that certainly deserves its own blog.
The excitement of watching us play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), one of world’s most iconic cricket stadiums, meant I was unable to sleep and up well before 6 am watching highlights of our famous victories over the years.
Things couldn’t have turned out more differently at the MCG than they did four years earlier, however, as the Proteas were hammered by the Indians. Chasing 308 for victory, we were all out for a paltry 178 handing India their first win against South Africa in world cup match (and their third-biggest win against South Africa ever). It was also our heaviest defeat at a world cup and this is not one I would ever be watching in the highlights package in years to come.
Notwithstanding the result, it was an unforgettable day spent with friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen and hung out with in too long. The result may have bitterly disappointed but it was a very special day out at the MCG.