South Africa and that old sign – “We still carry this monkey on our backs,” says Bafuma

No, it was not a dream. Early on Sunday morning, eight hours after the Springboks world champions were defeated by Ireland in Dublin, the South Africans woke up to the news that their men’s cricket team had been knocked out of the T20 World Cup after losing to the Netherlands. Yes it is a nightmare.

What should have been a stroll into the semi-finals, in what was increasingly looking like a South African Championship win – despite the shot against Pakistan – became what outgoing coach Mark Boucher admitted was “there” (should there be”). down”?) with the worst of the major tournament bombings. Sure, there would be some questioning of the collapse in Zimbabwe, but the victories over Bangladesh and India did South Africa well. All they had to do was win this match, against a team everyone expected to beat, to get to the knockout. It was entirely in their hands and they flopped and stumbled, eventually letting it slide.

“We have to blame ourselves,” Boucher said.

Later, his under pressure captain Tempa Pavuma echoed those thoughts. “Everything was in our hands as a team,” he said. “We had confidence, we had faith. We had the shape behind us. When it mattered, we couldn’t do business.”

In situations like this, when a team is so historically so disappointed in the stressful moments of the World Cup that everyone expects some strange circumstance together to conspire against them, it’s hard to ask them to analyze why. It’s easier to just let them sit with her and maybe cry in private, but that’s not how professional sports are set up. Spectators want answers, maybe even someone or something to blame, and the postmortem should be written and broadcast. So why, South Africa? What went wrong and when did it start?

“When we woke up,” Boucher said. “If you look at the way we started the game, our energies were low. Whether it was because it was a 10:30 a.m. match, and times were really tough…”

I backed off because, really. The morning start presented a few different challenges by rebounding and there will be some questions about South Africa’s decision to run first, but they have a plan. “We went through what that wicket plays like early morning,” Boucher said. “The history was that the wicket was a bit cold and we decided to go in with the extra tailor and the bowl first.” “We were looking to make a few forays into their first-class early doors and we didn’t succeed enough.”

And that’s where it really hurts. Because the South African attack, hailed as the best in the tournament thanks to its versatility, was “superior,” Boucher puts it.

Only Enrich Norte managed to beat the Dutch hitters quickly, Wayne Parnell did not find a swing, Lungi Ngidi’s changes were not as effective as in other matches, and the disappointing Kagisu Rabada ended with a disappointing performance. Among the front-line bowlers, he finished with the fewest wickets and the highest economic average.

“It’s not the only surprise that happened in the tournament. There were some very good teams that were defeated by the so-called smaller countries.”

Mark Boucher

In contrast, the Dutchman Brandon Glover knocked out Riley Rousseau with the man, for example, as the Dutch adapted better. “They read the conditions really well and adapted faster than we did and they made it difficult for us,” Boucher said.

However, the 159 goals were amenable to being chased, even by a South African lineup carrying a captain who may have found a bit of his fit. But South Africa failed to use the short square border to its advantage while the Netherlands had success. Roelof van der Merwe’s hunt to turn away David Miller was one of the best moments of the tournament and nothing more because van der Merwe is a South African, although he is unlikely to be part of that team.

“We didn’t play like we should have played but we didn’t hit like I thought we should have,” Boucher said. “The total that was set for us was probably a little more than we expected, but it could have haunted our hitting unit. We deserved to be better as a team but it just didn’t happen.”

This may be what South Africa needs to advance in the region: They feel they have earned the right to advance before they reach that stage. Boucher admitted: “If you had told us, we have the Netherlands to play to get to the semi-finals and you have to beat them, we would have taken that.”

Chances are a lot of teams would have made this mistake if they had already played the toughest matches in their group and could have seen knockouts looming. But if South Africa learns a lesson, it is too late for this campaign.

For Boucher, who was in that position as a player and now as a coach, it’s all about moving on and accepting their return home without the World Cup. It may be easier for him, as he will leave the team to take up a role with the Mumbai Indians.

“It’s not the only surprise that happened in the tournament,” he said. “In T20 cricket you can play a bit, drop one or two hits, create a little bit of pressure, and that happens. There have been some very good teams that have been defeated by the so-called smaller nations.”

For players, it’s about facing the fact that another generation has been injured and working quickly to ensure the scars don’t stick too deeply. Just this week, Pfaff de Plessis and Del Stein talked about how losing the 2015 semi-finals took them nearly a year to finish. South Africa cannot afford it, with 50 World Cup qualifiers looming in June and another World Cup less than 12 months away.

Boucher doesn’t think this group will be affected much though “whenever you don’t do well, it starts playing in your head.” Bafuma suggested he would work to help new players get through it quickly. “He. She [the chokers’ tag] We will always be there, until we find ourselves in a situation where we reach the final. “But there are elements of learning that we can benefit from, especially younger people,” Bafuma said. For someone like (Tristan) Stubbs or Marco Janssen, they shouldn’t make the same mistakes. Unfortunately, this sign, we still carry that monkey on our backs.”

At least, they don’t carry it on their own anymore. With the sun rising over South Africa and the opening of social media apps, it wasn’t the anger that came but the feeling of giving up. Perhaps it is the same feeling that pervaded the changing room; The feeling that someone else has escaped and that no one else can do about it. “This team deserves to give themselves a better chance and it didn’t happen to us, which is very disappointing for me and every player in our dressing room,” Boucher said. And 60 million South Africans have returned home, too.

Firdous Munda is the ESPNcricinfo correspondent in South Africa

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