Sunday the 12th of March, 2006, was memorable for many people for different reasons. It was a day of glory and defeat, joy and sorrow, pride and tragedy. It was a day of personal milestones and a day where the road ended for some.
On the 12th, Nikki and I celebrated our third anniversary of dating each other. Although we were very far apart and both home locked for the majority of the day, we had concocted a story and romantic fable of how we would have spent the day, given the luxury of each other’s company and being care-free. Thanx babe, I enjoyed it and I miss you a lot!!
Certain milestones, however, pale when compared to others, al be it in different contexts. I was out in the yard (if you can call it that) latish in the afternoon when I heard tremendous cheering and shouting. A game, I thought, and the fefizulu made me think it must have been a soccer game. Rugby, at least, seeing as how the Super 14 (?) is still on. But, oh, how ignorant I was! Later when my mom phoned me, she shared with me the news, knowing there isn’t a TV in the flat. The news stunned me completely and I am unable to put what I felt into words, because in a couple of minutes I went through all the emotions every South African watching the cricket had experience over a period of several hours.
Right about here it’s gets difficult to explain. If you know the game of cricket and follow international events concerning it, you probably already know. If you don’t know cricket and the stand of things, I not going to explain it. But, anyway, here’s what happened:
South Africa played the “best (limited overs) game in history” against arch rivals Australia.
Things looked grim right from the start as Australia obliterated our bowlers. Boundaries poured like driving rain and by the end of their innings they were confident and smug as hell (I think Australians are worse than Americans – like Americans, they believe they are better than everyone else, but unlike Americans, they are actually aware of everyone else and occasionally go to them and then tell them they are superior), having an record highest score for a single 50 overs innings: 434. When the South Africans had to take to the bat, they had to cross Mount Everest with a moped. In two and a half hours.
South Africans are very pessimistic sport supporters. If a South African team makes a mistake near the start or at the middle of the game, the whole game is written off as “lost”. But, a South African team can fight back hard and the cricket team did so despite early losses of wickets. We were chasing a score of 435: that is more than eight runs per over (that is, we had to score 1.45 runs for every ball “thrown” from the start of the game). As the number of overs reached 50, the suspense grew exponentially, because, above all reasonable expectations, South Africa closed the gap. One over left with one wicket in hand and six runs needed turned into two balls left, no wickets in hand and the scores tied.
South Africa is considered as “chokers” in the international cricket community, because seven years ago, in the Cricket World Cup semi-final, we faced Australia and, against severe odds, we tied the score in an epic game. Then, we choked. A run out ended the game, and although it was a tie, we lost due to other reasons. It was epic and I shall never forget it, even though we lost.
Sunday we didn’t choked. Boucher hit a four to win the match – with one ball left! The country erupted. Not only did we win against all odds, but the best ranked cricketing nation in the world failed to defend the highest score ever made; against us. “434? Is that all you can do??”
The greatest game in history. And I missed it. I was asleep when Kennedy was shot. I was painting the back porch when the moon landing occurred. History was made several times over in one day as records crumbled and a team was redeemed a million times over for every mistake and transgression ever made. I doubt if a game like that will ever be played in my lifetime again.
The following day I tried to make up by buying newspapers and drooling over the result on-line. Maybe I can find a series of tapes with the match on – it’ll be worth it!
But that was not the most significant event of the day. While a nation celebrated, a family grieved. My brother’s wife’s grandfather died on Sunday. Even though I only met him a few times, it is very weird to think that he is gone. I think he was the type of grandfather a naïve child could easily think of as being there forever. I know his family will mourn him for a long time. My condolences, and I wish I could have known him better.