It could be possible that as I’ve grown into a Westernised equivalent of an adult, I’ve also developed the slight side effect of viewing things from a cynical point of view. With a slight hint of doubt. However, I will just go with the assumption that my view is not the only one out there.
Recently, the Australian test team currently touring in South Africa decided that they needed to make a video on why they think AB de Villiers is such a great batsman. This is not the first time they have done a video like this before playing South Africa in a test series. The team spearheaded by Steve Smith had recorded four more videos in 2016, sitting in a room with a backdrop of black, having their faces be the centre of focus throughout the entire video speaking specific players in the Proteas squad who they admire, and what they think of the squad as a whole. The first video spoke about Dale Steyn, the second on Kagiso Rabada, the third on AB, and the fourth on the Proteas team as a whole.
Why do this? Why is Australia out to make themselves look like they are the most humble team of test playing nations? Why go through so much time speaking to a starting eleven asking them the same question, in which you expect the same answer? What satisfaction do they get out of speaking of how the opposition in a series of videos as opposed to just saying a one-liner in a press conference? Why do they not do these sucking-up videos with other teams like India, Pakistan, or New Zealand? The Ashes media hype does not count because it is all for a boring series, especially when things get one-sided.
If I think back to the 2016 test series between these two countries, it was a rather eventful one. The MintGate saga occurred, Dale Steyn dislocated his shoulder and South Africa was down one bowler on day two of the first test, it was the Proteas’ first Pink Ball match. It may seem that all the things that could have gone wrong for South Africa did, and that they were destined to be beaten by the Aussies. They choked in the first match and did not even try in the second. They came back in the third, but it was too little too late.
I was a first year student in 2016, studying furiously for my end of year exams when the series took place. I may have been in my psychological state of mind due to late nights cramming psychology content, but I felt after that series that all of those videos made may not have been to intimidate the Proteas into fearing for a difficult series Down Under, but they had come off a strong ODI series whitewash win and were prepared for anything: their confidence may had just been strengthened for that tour. Reverse psychology? Maybe. Could there be a solution to this? Absolutely: shut up with the psychological warfare, and get on with the game! I sometimes think that the Baggy Greens do enjoy the sounds of their own voices due to some of the things said. That is not a problem, usually, if the mind-games do not backfire and you win games convincingly. However, that takes away from how “genuine” these comments about players in the videos are just before a series takes place. Am I still being a cynic in making a comment like this?