“I think we handled it really well in those 24 hours, and then we went home and everyone went their own way. But when we next came together as a South African team and went back to the dressing room, I felt like we hadn’t done it.” “I didn’t talk about what happened a few months ago,” Steyn told ESPNcricinfo. “We needed to make sure that elephant was out of that room. It was certainly still in the room for a long time.”
Describing the aftermath of that evening in Auckland as South Africa’s golden generation of ODI cricketers lost their chance of reaching the final, Steyn said the first thing he did was “put a smile on his face and turn professional”.
“But I thought to the audience that when you’re on TV, you have to maintain that professional image. Put a smile on your face, and be professional when you get beaten in a big match. You have to take the ‘losses with the wins and the good with the bad.’ But as soon as you entered the dressing room, my role was to pick up all the players around me. And that was very heavy. We all went to our rooms that night, and I’m sure everyone was upset.
“The next morning, there was a group message, ‘Guys, there’s a breakfast planned somewhere,’ and we all got together. Then it was as if the night before had never happened. We tried to move on as quickly as we could.”
“A year or two after it happened, did we start dealing with it as a team? As individuals, everyone dealt with it in their own way. But as a team, we didn’t come out or talk about it.”
South Africa have reached the semi-finals of the ODI World Cup four times before – 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2015, with the team landing on the wrong side of the scoreline all four times, including three in frustrating circumstances. In 2003, on their home soil, it was a misjudgment that led to their exit from the tournament.
He added: “They have become more aggressive in the battle now.” “Since 1999 and through all those years, there has been one World Cup every four years. Now it feels like there is a World Cup every year, whether it is the 50-over or the 20-over, and a lot of these players participate in every So they learned how to deal with the loss, go home, and prepare for the next loss that would happen in a very short time.
“For this tournament, they are as prepared as they can be. It may seem like they have been carrying baggage for too long. They have lost other World Cups over simple things – maybe net run rate… but certainly not for bad cricket.”