South Africa has announced its ICC World Cup squad (team below). Naturally, some players are delighted others understandably disappointed. However, the focus now turns to this group of players who have been tasked with the national responsibility of bringing the World Cup trophy home for the first time.

South Africa’s history at World Cups is gut-wrenching and has always produced moments of the highest drama and occasions never to be forgotten. The most prominent ones must surely be the semi-finals of 1999 in England and 2015 in New Zealand. On both occasion we were so close, yet so far! I guess the most disappointing factor was always that South Africa had entered both competitions as firm contenders, if not outright favourites to win the World Cup. This time around, South Africa enters the 2019 ICC World Cup certainly not as firm favourites and, perhaps, not as settled as before in their build-up to the event.

This unchartered territory for South Africa is a positive for the team. They will have an opportunity to focus solely on their preparation without the external pressure of expectation. That is certainly my wish; after all, the South African public sets such high expectations for all their teams. Naturally, the public will, once again, be expecting South Africa to win the competition, in which case we should not be surprised when the ‘chokers tag’ rears its ugly head as a tactical ploy by the opposition to impose themselves on the Proteas.

This will always be a mental hurdle for the Proteas team to overcome if they are to make history and win the tournament for the first time.  In order to overcome the label, the team will have to rumble with vulnerability. This means, according to renowned Research Professor Brene Brown, “having the courage to show up fully when you can’t control the outcome.” It is about being vulnerable in their relationships as teammates on a daily basis which means sharing their excitement and fears openly together. In fact, we, the public, will also rumble with vulnerability, with and for the team.

One of our great assets going into this World Cup is that South Africa has a courageous leader in Faf du Plessis.  He lives the values of #Proteafire and is never silent about the hard things. He is the kind of leader who is willing to step up, put himself ‘out there’ and be courageous. Brene Brown argues that “the greatest barrier to courageous leadership is not fear – it is how we respond to our fear.” Together with his leadership group, Du Plessis embodies a collective sense of calm and determination to cultivate a culture in which brave work, tough conversations, and whole-hearts are expected. Moreover, he is tactically shrewd and strategically on par with the best in the world.

The environment cultivated by his leadership will unleash the likes of, Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock, Andile Phehlukwayo and the rest of the Proteas because they will feel safe, seen, heard, and respected. This team has a wonderful mixture of youth and experience which, I believe, will provide a competitive advantage during the tournament. The Proteas is an iconic brand around the world and we know the team will be exemplary compatriots in England.

On behalf of the players, SACA, and myself as the President of the Association, I want to take this opportunity to wish the Proteas well in their quest for gold, may they rumble to World Cup victory.

World Cup Squad: Faf du Plessis (C); Quinton de Kock (Wk); Hashim Amla; Aiden Markram; Rassie van der Dussen; David Miller; JP Duminy; Dwaine Pretorius; Dale Steyn; Kagiso Rabada; Lungi Ngidi; Chris Morris; Andile Phehlukwayo; Imran Tahir; Tabraiz Shamsi



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