Thank you, Faf

Three hours to go until the start of the semifinal and here we are, already on the edge of our seats, anticipation and excitement straining at the leash.

Friday afternoon, a World Cup semifinal and South Africa is in it. Australia lost three on the bounce and went home with their tail between their legs. The all-rounders and power-hitters in the Black Caps squad weren’t quite good enough. Even Pakistan, proverbial semifinalists at these events, didn’t make it this time. But the Proteas did.

It might be a ‘little’ early in the day (especially a weekday) for most people to visit a bar and crack open a beer, but all around the country cricket lovers will be making exceptions – whether they are bar-visiting beer-drinkers or not.

Office boardrooms will have the television tuned in to Bangladesh and managers will stand or sit alongside the salesmen, drivers and secretaries to take in the occasion. Especially this format which can command and hold the attention of even the most casual cricket acquaintance.

The country’s fans have had almost a week to look forward to the match. In truth, it may have been a bit long for the players – time passes very slowly in Dhaka and there are only so many DVDs and games of table tennis you can play.

But Faf and his team, somehow, dragged themselves into the semifinals without playing particularly good cricket. Sheer force of character and personality had a lot to do with it.

Dale Steyn has been a tour de force and AB de Villiers was at his spectacular best against England. Imran Tahir, too, has not had a bad game. Hashim Amla looks to be back to his best.

There is so much more to come, too. Imagine if Quinton de Kock gets going! And Faf – he’s due a big innings. Let’s forget the argument about who should be batting at number three and get behind the skipper. Could it be David Miller or Albie Morkel who produce the match-changing innings today?

Professionals play sport to win. Supporters watch sport in the hope of winning. Victory is the ultimate aim. But we forget how much enjoyment we derive in the days before the game, when hopes and dreams are still alive, swirling in the air around us. We forget how much fun we have ending the working week a couple of hours early in order to watch the game.

We should not be so quick to forget the thrill of anticipation. As a wise man once told a love-struck teenage boy: “The thrill of women is in the chase.”

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