Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe didnâ€™t mince his words in a letter written to South African skipper AB de Villiers ahead of the teamâ€™s cricket World Cup encounter with the West Indies on Friday. Given their dismal display against India last weekend, the Proteas need all the advice they can get, butÂ have we really plumbed such depths that we now need to listen to a Kiwi?
Actually, yes. Crowe admitted that while his heart was with the Black Caps, pre-tournament his head had told him to back the Proteas. Seems heâ€™d got it the wrong way round. Because while New Zealand are blazing their way through the group stages, the Proteas have been far from convincing. Weâ€™re lucky Crowe has a big enough heart to throw some sound advice ABâ€™s way.
Weâ€™ve rounded up Croweâ€™s main points â€“ and added in some advice of our own.
1. Reach out for the spirit of Madiba
“Firstly, and most important of all, any success of the highest order is down to bold, courageous leadership. You guys should know; you had one of the best of all time â€“ Nelson Mandela.”
Madiba has always inspired our sports teams â€“ most notably the 1995 Springboks. And de Villiers himself, together with friend Ampie du Preez, has recorded a song called Madibaland. Crowe is right. AB, itâ€™s time you put your money where your mouth is and lead from the front in honour of your hero.
2. Work on Wayne Parnell
“Wayne Parnell is your man. Trouble is, he is a rogue and can go walkabout, but heâ€™s likeable and eager, and if his button is correctly pushed, he will be a massive positive for the rocky road ahead.”
Thereâ€™s been much criticism of Parnellâ€™s selection for the World Cup. It may have been wiser to have left him out of the playing squad but bring him along as the teamâ€™s official Instagrammer. However, Crowe is right. Since Parnell is what the Proteas have to work with, AB needs to work on bringing out the best in him.
3. Maximise Dale Steynâ€™s ability
“Get Dale to relax, get rid of the stunned-mullet look, get him looser. His wrist-snap is missing, the venom of old lacking … Get him challenged on different fronts to keep him fresh, not thinking too much, just lots of doing and being the class act he is.”
Ever since the Mickey Arthur coaching days of the so-called brains trust, thinking has never been our cricketersâ€™ strongest point. Reeling after the loss against India on Saturday, itâ€™s tempting to overthink strategy. Rather, as Crowe says, letâ€™s focus on doing.
4. Tell Quinton de Kock to relax
“Tell young Quinton to clear the mind a little, not premeditate so much, as it roots the feet to the spot. Tell him to breathe deep and let the feet find fluency, then the hitting and timing will return … Breathe and believe.”
When we first saw the tweet about the Proteas chilling on Bondi beach the other day, we were like, seriously? But, to be honest, they probably needed the break to clear their heads. Following Crowe, we hope the squad has been able to get some yoga time in also.
5. Be grateful for Imran Tahir
“Oh, I love Imran. What a big heart. If only you had 11 of him. He has been through so much and still keeps fighting on. Heâ€™s your go-to guy, your banker, so be grateful he is in fluent form.”
Thereâ€™s not much to add here, except â€œ+1â€. And letâ€™s hope Tahir can transfer his form to the rest of the Proteas, instead of the other way round.
6. Weâ€™ve passed peak beard
“Have a shave, AB, you look ragged and rattled. Smarten up. A touch of polish is required.”
Aw, weâ€™re kinda fond of ABâ€™s overgrown stubble ourselves. But, if a clean shave will bring a new perspective, then get ye to a barbershop!
Boys, we still support you. We still believe you can bring back the World Cup. For now, please heed Croweâ€™s advice and #bringbacktheruns against the Windies!
Read Croweâ€™s full letter to De Villiers here.