It’s Cricket World Cup time again and I just can’t keep myself from getting excited.
Cricket had a huge influence on my formative years.
It was my first real love affair with sport.
I remember watching every single domestic cricket game I possibly could and throwing the ball against the wall, hitting it on the rebound to perfect my shots.
As I watched the likes of Sachin Tendulkar on TV, I did so with bat in hand - imitating every single shot I thought was a good one.
The Protea fire burned deep within my heart, though.
Jonty Rhodes’ energy on the field had me diving for easy stops while fielding at point for my school’s team.
I could bowl like Allan Donald, Meyrick Pringle, Fanie de Villiers and in later years, I could even do a Gogga.
Cricket was a way of life for me.
That’s until 1999 and that run out of Donald and Lance Klusener.
Before then, cricket took priority over rugby.
But things changed on that day. It was as if my cricket heart was ripped out of my chest.
Still, every four years I find it beating again. This year is no different.
I believe South Africa have a squad capable of finally bringing home that trophy we’ve coveted for so many years.
But while I believe we have the squad to pull off the “miracle”, I believe our greatest advantage this year is the format of the tournament.
I’ve sat through every single tournament since 1992 and I’ve shared the disappointment with the team.
What I’ve noticed, though, is that we simply don’t have the “hit and run” game.
By that I mean we can’t do the knockout thing - South African cricket teams need time to get into gear.
This year sees the 10 teams in the tournament playing each other once in a round-robin stage, with the top four making it to the semis.
The Proteas, therefore, will play all of the big guns and the minnows once.
Nine matches in the tournament should be more than enough to settle the nerves of the players.
Yes, there will be games where they won’t perform, but I believe South Africa will grow as the tournament progresses.
The team has made their mental focus a big part of their preparation for this tournament.
And I do believe it will go a long way in a tournament designed like this.
One man who embodies the strong mentality of the South African team is Hashim Amla.
Struggling tor form for a while now, Hash scored a 50 against Sri Lanka in their first warm-up match on Friday just to announce to the Proteas fans that he is still the man to face the new ball.
Nou manne, we’ve been here before and we’ve said "this is our year" on more than one occasion.
This time, though, there are no excuses.
With a number of talented youngsters starting their international careers and a number of players on their way out, the mix of youth and experience is impressive.
If this team can’t get South Africa over the line, no other Proteas team will. Well, at least not until the next World Cup comes around - wink, wink.