Four more years.
That’s the length of time South African cricket fans hoping for their beloved Proteas to possibly lift a World Cup trophy will have to wait.
After their heartbreaking defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the semifinal this week a number of players were in tears, devastated that their 2015 campaign had come to nought.
Those tears may have also been part of a realisation that several players from this year’s edition may have run out of time to fulfil their ambition of holding aloft a trophy that has stayed out of the grasp of South Africa’s cricketers.
The likes of captain AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and Morne Morkel may not be involved in the national side by the time the 2019 renewal starts in the Uk given that the list of players will be well into their thirties.
Spinner Imran Tahir will be approaching 40 at that stage and he went to this year’s tournament as the oldest player, at 35, in a squad with an average age of 28-years-old.
The likes of Quinton de Kock,22, David Miller and Rilee Rossouw, who are both 25, would likely be the returning faces in the 2019 campaign while Kyle Abbott, who missed the semifinal at the expense of Vernon Philander, will be 31 by the time the next World Cup rolls around.
There’s also the possibility that Wayne Parnell could appear for a third time at the showpiece given that he will be 29 in four year’s time.
Aaron Phangiso, who never got any game time, will be 35 years old by then while Philander and Farhaan Behardien will be 34 and 35 respectively.
A look at the preliminary 30-man squad also features a number of players who would likely have bowed out by 2019 but there are also names like 19-year-old fast bowler Kagiso Rabada and 25-year-old batsman Reeza Hendricks to consider as potential candidates.
“I think those two are exciting names for the future,” former Proteas batsman Boeta Dippenaar said yesterday when asked about the rebuilding process following the seminal loss.
“I think it might have been a last chance for the likes of AB, Hash and Dale. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if we now see Dale Steyn focus more on Test cricket and start stepping away from the one-day format,” Dippenaar said.
According to Dippenaar the biggest issue that the brains trust face in the months and years leading up to 2019 revolves around the identification of a player to fill the revered all-rounder role, something that the Proteas lacked in New Zealand and Australia.
“The need for a good quality all-rounder is probably our biggest concern at the moment and unfortunately there’s nobody who comes to mind at the moment to fill that role,” he said.
The next few days and weeks will be tough for the Proteas as they linger on what might have been.
“It’s a matter of getting away from the game. Emotions are still raw and it’s a process then to get the healing to start.”
Sound advice not only for the Proteas but also those fans left heartbroken.