SA's Du Plessis: I'm cheering for the Aussies
From an early age we are raised on a steady diet of Southern Hemisphere rivalry, including the mantra, "I support two teams. South Africa and whoever's playing the Aussies".
Should you, as a visiting Brit or Indian, find yourself at a traditional South African braai (barbecue) on a Saturday afternoon, and there's sport on the TV, you'd do well take note of who is playing. If it involves Australia in any way, best you support the opposition.
From an early age we are raised on a steady diet of Southern Hemisphere rivalry, including the mantra, "I support two teams. South Africa and whoever's playing the Aussies". Rugby, cricket, football, swimming, rhythmic gymnastics. Doesn't matter.
Which is why I was horrified to find myself screaming at the TV during the first Ashes Test, on the edge of my chair, saying, "COME ON, THE AUSSIES!" I don't know if someone will be coming for me in the middle of the night, or if I merely have to burn my Springbok supporter's jersey.
And here's the thing. Despite my brother telling me on Facebook that his love for me has died, the thing is: I'm not sorry. I'd do it again. I mean, I'm not going to start singing 'Advance Australia Fair' or anything, but Lord's will see me backing the Baggy Green.
Asseblief okes*, let me explain. It's Ian Botham's fault. Most things are Jonathan Trott's fault, apparently, but this time it's Beefy's. Before the first Test, the former England all-rounder, and general rent-a-quote, said there was not way the Aussies would win a single Test in the next six months.
That's the kind of arrogance, the kind of smack talk, that makes us hate…well, the Aussies, actually. This 'windgat'* comment triggered another traditional South African attitude: cheering for the underdog.
Now, obviously, the Aussies don't see themselves as such. They're 'fighters' and 'mongrels' and 'believe in Boof till the end of days'. I get it. But you're underdogs, mates, sorry to tell you, and so I'm going to cheer for your little averaging-under-40 faces.*
The main thing, from a cricketing point of view, is that I don't think anyone other than Beefy actually wants to see a 10-0 drubbing. Where's the fun in that? I wanted the Aussies to win the first Test so badly, just so we'd have a more exciting series on the cards.
Added to this, most people love a good comeback-kid story, and I was delighted to see Chris Rogers get some runs. At the age of 35, he doesn't have any more chances in his back pocket, and he was classy, steady and stoic, especially in the second innings as he made his first Test fifty.
Then we had Ashton Agar. Heavens, but that was fun. Once Marais Erasmus (sorry, on behalf of South Africa, for his errors) decided he had a sliver of boot behind the line when not-stumped, he didn't look anywhere other than forward. Some wild swings induced heart palpitations, but generally he looked incredibly good for a teenage number 11 debutant with 10 first class games to his name.
Now, this point will probably make some English readers cross, but I really wanted Stuart Broad to lose. It wasn't just the massive middle-of-the-bat non-dismissal, because batsmen have the right to stand/it's the umpire's job to lift the finger/no-one walks, etc. OK fine.
It was the way he shrugged his shoulders, and pulled a face to Aleem Dar (who should have seen the edge from space, I know) that said, "Whaaaat?! I have no idea what they're on about, I swear!" He then went on to blush like a teenage girl and wouldn't look up in case the cameras caught his face. But this is a circular argument that every man and his dog has been having for days, so let's let it go. Woosah.
Broad then went on to fiddle with his shoe for five minutes before lunch on day five, probably on Alastair Cook's instruction, but he had such a smug look on his face that I cheered when the umpires ordered one more over anyway. Not that it mattered in the end.
All this being said, I like most England players. Ian Bell's knock was wonderful, and his baby was super cute even though Bell's wife nearly dropped the little blighter in her excitement. And despite previous posts on the subject, Jimmy Anderson is the business.
Some readers might think support for the Aussies by a Saffer is because England have Kevin Pietersen, Trott and Prior and we're jealous. Eh, no, not really. You're welcome to keep them, as well as Jade Dernbach and Craig Kieswetter. We're over that, unless Trott insults Cape Town again. Then we'll need to have a chat.
<b>Lindsay du Plessis</b>
*Please lads<br>*Literally 'wind hole' (asshole) but meaning arrogant or full of yourself<br>*In a personal capacity. Not as an official C365 journo, before you send me cross letters bemoaning lack of objectivity, etc
Yorkshire suffer a top-order collapse as Tom Bailey stars with the ball
The visitors were bowled out for 159 in the Roses clash at Old Trafford.
Graces Cricket Club preparing for more history in world’s first all-LGBTQ+ match
Graces will face Birmingham Unicorns, who were established last year, in a one-off friendly supported by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Ashley Giles suggests England may reassert Black Lives Matter support in summer
England kicked off their 2020 season by joining the West Indies in taking a knee ahead of all three Test matches between the sides.
Jofra Archer ready to ‘sit out the summer’ to be fit for T20 World Cup and Ashes
England’s pace bowler had elbow surgery last week.
Tash Farrant eager for England’s women to play more red-ball cricket
England play their first Test match against India since 2014 next month.
Fish tanks, pucks, lions and chainsaws – freak injuries in sport
Ben Foakes has joined the list of bizarre sporting injuries after slipping on a sock.
England’s Ben Foakes out of New Zealand Test series after suffering freak injury
Haseeb Hameed and Sam Billings have been called up to the squad.
England bowler Jofra Archer starts ‘intensive rehabilitation’ following surgery
The fast bowler has gone under the knife after managing varying degrees of pain in his right elbow for around 18 months.
Edgbaston to welcome around 18,000 fans each day for second New Zealand Test
The stadium will be 70 per cent full for England’s second Test against the Black Caps in mid-June after being selected for a Government pilot event.
On This Day in 2015: Bayliss appointed as England start on road to World Cup win
Trevor Bayliss was appointed England head coach on this day six years ago, tasked with a brief to improve the country’s limited-overs fortunes.While he helped them regain the Ashes in his first assignment in the summer of 2015, the Australian’s peak moment at the helm came in 2019 as he shepherded England to their first ever World Cup crown.Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the ups and downs in a reign that came to an end following the drawn Ashes series in September 2019.HighsWorld Cup gloryBeautiful scenes ??England lifted their maiden #CWC19 trophy at the Home of Cricket after …