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