OPINION: #CWC15: Bring the Proteas home, immediately

As the Proteas hit self-destruct in Melbourne as run after run leaked to toothless bowling and wickets were gifted to MS Dhoni's willing men, the South African sporting public did what it did best: self-harm in the most brutal fashion.

The image of the 'be-pinked' AB de Villiers tearing apart the hapless West Indies bowlers at the Wanderers just over a month ago, which seemingly finally cemented South Africa's hopes of World Cup glory, was a distant memory as he lay face first in the MCG turf, run out.

It was at this point that I half expected the camera to pan to Sachin Tendulkar, wearing a shirt of the most magnificent purple hue surely ever seen in the MCG's presidential suite, standing on the balcony impersonating a Roman emperor at the Coliseum, with his thumb downturned. De Villiers, a Gladiator no more, reduced to a mere batsman. On a par perhaps with Aaron Finch, or similar.

As defeats go it was both humbling and humiliating. Perhaps the run out effected by de Villiers himself early on while fielding was the only highlight in an utterly pitiful performance. Not long ago de Villiers could walk on water, according to a large majority of South African fans, while yesterday's performance was akin to the shambles that struck the Costa Concordia.

Nevertheless the Proteas travelled to Sydney on Monday licking a sizeable Shikhar Dhawan-sized wound, but they are not yet out of the World Cup despite most of South Africa seemingly wanting them to return home immediately.

Picture Wayne Parnell, a placard around his neck with "je suis desole" scrawled on it, leading the pack back up on stage at Melrose Arch where the #ProteaFire was lit, hanging his head in shame while a barrow from the nearest Fruit & Veg is being lobbed at him by baying fans. Perhaps they'll be a little more accurate with their arms than the Warriors seamer was with the confectionary that he dished up yesterday.

If South Africans spent as much energy as they do on social media lambasting their teams as they did in doing something positive…. you get my drift.

Let's be clear, however, that the South African team which trooped off the pitch yesterday is in need of serious introspection, with big questions to be answered ahead of their game against the West Indies on Friday. Players out of form, injury concerns and the balance of the team all immediately spring to mind.

But perhaps the Proteas were always destined to lose against the world champions. While a partisan crowd screamed their heads off for India and Tendulkar's hairdo and sunglass selfie reverberated around the world, sitting amongst a group of fans whose demeanour resembled that of a wind-up clock slowly running out of power was former Proteas skipper Graeme Smith. He'd seen it all before.

Cool heads are required, and while they won't be coming from home until the West Indies are creamed, Ireland obliterated, Pakistan walloped and the UAE smashed, if Russell Domingo's men don't sort out their shortcomings, and quickly, they'll join the long list of Proteas who've returned home empty-handed.

After all, how dare another team think of rocking up to actually challenge the Proteas?

Jean Smyth is EWN's Cape Town sports editor. Follow him on Twitter @JeanSmyth

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