Cape Town – Anybody reading this would presumably, at some stage of their lives, gone through a break-up.
Sometimes it gets messy, there are tears and emotions involved. Other times it’t mutual, the relationship has run it’s course and both parties realise it.
But at the end of the day the only thing you can do is pick yourself up and move on. Left with with memories of what was and might have been the only consolation. But what it boils down to is getting over in it in the shortest time frame possible.
While it may be a crude example it’s not dissimilar to the current situation that the South African Test side finds themselves in as they get to grips for life in a new era, one where new faces have appeared, a new leader still getting to grips with his role and with their reign as the world’s number one Test playing nation seriously under threat.
Last year will be one they will be keen to forget. There weren’t any major highs, beating the West Indies hardly inspires excitement given their struggles, and it was then overshadowed by a 3-0 series loss in India in tough conditions.
“I wish we had an eraser to Tippex it out as a batting unit but it happened. It was nothing technical that came from India it was just the mental scar it left. We definitely lacked confidence after that series,” Faf du Plessis, who found some form again with the bat with runs in the ongoing second Test against England here, said of that tough period in India.
A 72-day tour was always going to be mentally draining and it showed towards the back end as the players involved in the success in the T20 and one day international formats came down from those highs to eventually face a barrage of criticism from the media and public.
“Look we are a team that sets highs standards for ourselves so the criticism that we’ve got from you guys (the media) we feel it as well. If you’re not putting up the performances you’re allowed to be critical,” Du Plessis said of the backlash the team has faced recently.
But the batsman is a realist and while the perfect scenario would be to give the new faces in the squad time to adjust to the rigours of cricket at this level he knows that the public want results.
“We’re very disappointed in our own performances. The possibility of maybe giving a bit of leeway for a team that’s young and experienced that’s an ideal world,” said Du Plessis.
“But you’re never going to get the ideal. This is professional sport and we want performances and so do the public and journalists. I think it’s fair,” he said of the criticism before weighing in with his opinion on this difficult period the side is going through.
A period that involves coming to grips with life after the likes of Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith, guys who England captain Alastair Cook described as ‘once in a generation players’ in the aftermath of their comprehensive victory in the series opener at Kingsmead.
“Hopefully this period of transition will be a short one,” said Du Plessis.
“It is real tough. We’ve been lucky, we’ve had a real strong Test team for a long period of time but any team goes through these changes. Our team is growing. There are a lot of positions that have changed, new guys and you hope that guys who step into the Test team to just put in performances straight away.”
“I hope this will be the turning point for the batting lineup, for everyone to get their confidence back,” he added of the batting effort so far on a track that’s assisting the batsmen at Newlands.
Much like someone re-entering the social scene, having exorcised the ghosts of girl or boyfriends past, it takes just the right amount of confidence to make an impression.