Ouens have already fallen into the habit of asking their brasse: “Right, who are we losing to today?”
This week, the last surviving SA teams, the Sharks and Bulls, were knocked out in the Super Rugby quarterfinals on Saturday.
Which was cold comfort for fans of the Stormers, who got booted the week before.
On Sunday, there was a lot riding on the match between the Proteas and Pakistan.
Captain Faf du Plessis and his manne needed to win this game to stand any chance of making the semifinals.
In the end, they surrendered meekly, losing by an emphatic 49 runs.
As demoralising as the result was, it did offer some relief.
Cricket fans didn’t have to pin their faith on the team winning every single remaining game, hoping England and New Zealand slip up, and the weather playing along.
The matter was beyond doubt: The Proteas were k** and their World Cup was over.
Life could go on. Besides, Bafana were playing in their opening Afcon match the following day.
They couldn’t fare any worse than the cricket team, could they?
Well, a 1-0 loss to Ivory Coast was not exactly disgraceful.
But the manner of the defeat was reminiscent the Proteas’ woeful World Cup.
You know, the stage fright, going down without a fight, displaying a lack of guts and character.
Coach Ottis Gibson’s cricketers didn’t even play well enough to be called “chokers” at this cup.
To be a choker, you need to have built up expectation by performing well, then fail at a crucial stage when the pressure is on.
No, this team is certainly not chokers like previous cup squads, just regular losers.
But why? How did our players suddenly go from heroes to zeros in the UK?
There are several theories out there, some not so plausible.
“Injuries to strike bowlers Anrich Nortje and Dale Steyn”. Poor excuse. Injuries are a part of sport and affect all teams.
“Player burn-out after playing too much international cricket, as well as IPL.” Again, weak excuse. Other national teams also have to manage their players’ workloads. That said, Cricket South Africa has a bad habit of selecting the same players in all formats of the game, instead of identifying specialists.
CSA has also been criticised for standing by out-of-form veterans Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and Dale Steyn.
A lack of talent and personnel are not really valid reasons.
Take a nation like New Zealand, which has a population of 4.7 million (rugby-mad) people. Why is it that they can put together a fit and fresh cricket squad capable of contesting the semifinals and SA (57 million) can’t?
But the worst theory of all: the team has gone backwards because of transformation.
You know, when the team is winning, then we’re a glorious Rainbow Nation.
When we’re losing, the racists are quick to point out who the “quota players” are.
No, if you’re looking for someone to blame, take aim at CSA.
They are ultimately responsible for managing player selection, physical and mental conditioning.
It’s clear the bosses have failed the fitness test, but they’ve also failed disastrously at psychological preparation.
For two decades, CSA have not been able to shake the chokers tag.
They really should take pointers from the Aussies, who, after enduring their worst national cricket crisis last year, have bounced back remarkably.
The sandpaper cheats have served their bans, are back on the field, and have taken all sorts of abuse from the Poms on their way to the top of the cup log.
That’s character for you. That kind of guts and resilience is lacking in the Proteas camp.
SA needs to develop taai, dikvel mongrels who can stand their ground in the heat of battle.
Lastly, coach Gibson must surely get the sack for getting his tactics wrong at the tournament.
The Windies mentor clearly thought he could blitz the opposition with a pure pace attack.
Unfortunately for him, the UK pitches are not the green mambas we have at home.
And it’s the teams who have effectively employed swing, pace variation and spin who have had the most success.
Amid the sporting doom and gloom, there was one moment that restored the Proudly SA gees this week.
It was the Ndlovu Youth Choir from Limpopo, who blew everyone away on the world’s biggest talent stage - America’s Got Talent.
Do yourself a favour and watch the video.