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Markram focuses on the positives after coming close

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Proteas captain Aiden Markram made it clear that he was more focused on the emotions of having come so close to bringing a Cricket World Cup trophy back to South Africa for the first time.

Aiden Markram, captain of South Africa, was philosophical about the Proteas not being able to cross the line when they seemingly had the game well within their grasp with 30 runs needed off the final five overs. Picture: Robert Cianflone, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA, Getty Images via AFP

THE MARGIN between victory and defeat at an elite level of professional sport is often minuscule. Hundredths of a second wins Olympic 100m sprint gold medals. It is equally true in the swimming pool.

The diameter of the rim can be the difference between attaining an NBA championship ring or not. And the width of the touchline can potentially win or lose a Rugby World Cup.

That’s the nature of top-level competition. And the Proteas certainly discovered that on Saturday in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup final at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.

Requiring 16 runs off the final over for a first Cricket World Cup crown, David Miller slapped Hardik Pandya’s first ball down to long-off.

At first glance it looked like it was set to go all the way for a six. But then like an acrobat, India’s twinkle-toed fielder Suryakumar Yadav made the catch and released it just as he went over the boundary rope before jumping into the field of play again to claim the catch.

It was a moment of high drama as TV umpire Richard Kettlebrough from England ruled that it was a fair catch and Miller was sent back to the pavilion. It was critical in the context of the final as the Proteas ultimately went down by seven runs.

However, in the aftermath, Proteas fans were incensed with Kettlebrough’s ruling as zoomed-in pictures taken from TV suggest that the boundary cushions were pushed beyond the line that runs all around the field.

Rule 19.2.2 states that “if the boundary is marked by a white line, the edge of the line shall be ruled the boundary”. Rule 19.2.2.2 continues “an object, such as a flag, board or post, used merely to highlight the line marked on the ground, must be placed beyond the boundary and is not itself to be regarded as the boundary”.

Proteas captain Aiden Markram, however, preferred not to dwell on the incident.

“I didn’t even see it, to be honest. I couldn’t watch,” he said.

“Yeah, it’s a quick replay. They’re obviously pretty convinced that it was out and that’s why it was a quick replay.”

Instead, he was more focused on the emotions of having come so close to bringing a Cricket World Cup trophy back to South Africa for the first time.

“It’s just gut-wrenching – that’s really what it is. Each player has been on a different individual journey to get to this first final,” Markram said.

“Ultimately, you become really tight as a group and you want good things to happen to this group because you know they’re great people and when you get really close like that, especially the nature of how the game went, obviously adds to the emotions and it’s one of those things but yeah, we can channel it, moving forward, but I think next couple of days you let it be, you let yourself feel the way you want to feel and then really start reflecting in a positive manner.

“It’s tournament cricket, it’s tough cricket, it’s not easy to win trophies and you’ve got to take your hats off to a team like India for lifting the trophy. A lot of hard work goes into it.”

Markram was also philosophical about the Proteas not being able to cross the line when they seemingly had the game well within their grasp with 30 runs needed off the final five overs.

“It’s not the first game of cricket that’s been lost with a team needing 30 of 30 – it’s more that India was allowed to bowl well, they’re allowed to field well, they’re allowed to go from that position to a position of strength. It happens often in this game,” he said.

“Like I mentioned, right now to pinpoint something is quite tough but we’ll reflect over the next few days, over the next few weeks, try and find areas that we could have maybe improved in during today’s game, but also to highlight the things that went really well for us.

“We’d like to think we’re one step closer and hopefully moving forward we can get that first win and it can be a snowball effect of quite a few to come.”

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