How the Proteas found their silver bullet.

18 June 2024, Tuesday





Adversity is the diamond dust that heaven polishes its jewels with : Thomas Carlyle





Hats off to the Proteas test team who have come a long way since Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow smashed them to all corners of Newlands in January 2016. Ben Stoke’s master class in batting entertained a packed Newlands, but a closer look inside the Proteas camp, revealed it was more like taking lambs to the slaughter.

Something was wrong with the Protea’s psyche.

Mindset is everything

Having lost emphatically in India, they had been outplayed by England on home turf.

One year on and things have changed.

With scintillating team performances against New Zealand, in Australia and now at home versus Sri Lanka, the team’s psyche is one which now provides a formidable challenge for all opponents.

In took an open hearted ‘culture camp ‘in mid 2016 to reveal what had gone wrong.

Like any good team does when it finds itself with its back against a wall – the players gave themselves a honest open hearted reality check , adding diagnostics and a newly formulated high level game plan –  to bounce back from adverse times.

What came out of their closed camp was that the entire team felt they had entered ‘’a tunnel ‘’.

A tunnel which had been opened wide on a semi- final day at Eden Park in March 2015. A day when they had collectively allowed politics to override their original team selection.

On that World Cup day, a player who was not fit to play and obviously out of form, was forced into the team to play ahead of a player who was in the bowling form of his life – namely Kyle Abbott.

South Africa’s , and AB de Villier’s World Cup dreams lay in tatters after that politically motivated decision – beaten by four wickets by New Zealand.

See Article I posted in March 2015: AB de Villiers – lift your head, you’re a legend

What transpired at Eden Park was to have an adverse effect on everyone in the squad- and it took the team 18 months to come out and say so .

The Proteas had built their PROTEA FIRE brand equity on the back off one potent word, namely  CERTAINTY.

Now it was gone – certainty in decision making and certainty in selection.

The players felt gutted – gutted by their very own.

Certainty builds confidence in all sports, but in cricket where milli-seconds and milli-metres are the fine line between in and out – it becomes a silver bullet.

The term ‘silver bullet’ refers to an action which cuts through complexity and provides an immediate solution to a problem

Coupled with mutual trust and focus, certainty takes teams to the top. Without certainty, teams plunge down the world rankings as we have seen with our beloved Springboks

Since their ‘’ culture camp’, the Proteas have exited the tunnel and found  renewed certainty in convenor of selectors, Linda Zondi , his fellow selectors , a rejuvenated Russell Domingo , and captain Faf Du Plessis –  all who have stood firmer against unnecessary political meddling.

Challenges will always come their way, but it’s now time for the Proteas to take the next step – to move beyond and away from racial quotas and embrace and leverage off our unique national strength:

Unity in our diversity

In a post ‘’culture camp’’ era for PROTEA FIRE, the team has found its silver bullet in a word called CERTAINTY.

Let’s hope that the fine example they have set this summer, inspires others in our great country to follow suite – and change mindset.

Let’s hope our leaders in other sporting codes, our business leaders and our country leaders take heed of what the Proteas have achieved.

Let’s ‘Unite in Diversity’ – it’s our unique strength. Let’s play to it , and not our weaknesses.

Our country is crying out for leaders who have the innate talent to unite diverse people in mutual trust, purpose and certainty.

Welgedaan Linda, fellow selectors, Russell and Faf.

Stand firm , keep going, it’s never easy.

Let’s build a greater Brand South Africa together in 2017 – and beyond.

Rob Opie is a Brand Strategist, Author, Speaker, and Performance Coach to Business executives, Corporate teams, Sports teams and Individuals.





  • Rob’s latest book: The Game Changers: Good to Great to Greater is available FREE to readers as an instant digital download on his site : THE GAME PLAN