Can SA shed ‘chokers’ tag?

Weary of its reputation of being unable to win the big match, South Africa gets another chance to rid itself of the ”choker” label with another trip to the Cricket World Cup semifinals.

Wednesday’s match against Australia will be the third time the Proteas have reached the final four at cricket’s showpiece since emerging from apartheid-era isolation at the 1992 World Cup.

Captain Graeme Smith said he thought South Africa had shed its late-tournament stumbler notoriety when it beat England resoundingly in its final Super Eights match to qualify for the last four. But Australia has been quick to point out the Proteas’ habit of falling at the last hurdle.

Cricket has been cruel to South Africa and its attempts to win the World Cup.

In 1992 in Australia, South Africa needed a tough but gettable 22 from 13 balls against England when it started to rain. When the rain stopped, pre-Duckworth/Lewis calculations decided that South Africa now needed the impossible 21 from one ball and was eliminated.

In 1999, at Birmingham’s Edgbaston ground, the loss was almost more painful as the two teams tied and South Africa was eliminated because it already had lost to Australia earlier in the tournament.

The ICC has excluded that outcome for Wednesday’s semifinal against Australia, because semifinals will now be settled by a ”bowl out” in the case of a tie.

Australia, always quick to focus on their opposition’s mental weaknesses, says it senses fear among the South Africans.

Matthew Hayden, top of the batting rankings in the tournament, said he noticed it during the 83-run victory over South Africa in the group stage.

”Last time we played better than them, and you could tell by the looks on their faces they were intimidated by us,” Hayden said after smashing the World Cup’s fastest century during his 101 off 68 balls as Australia reached 377 for six.

”I definitely sensed that,” he said. ”It is an edge which came from many years of beating them. It was just body language. You could feel that they could feel it.”

Jacques Kallis is a batsman frequently targeted by the Australians, a compliment that implicitly acknowledges his threat as a scorer.

Kallis is one of four survivors from the dramatic tied semifinal against Australia in the 1999 World Cup at Edgbaston, along with Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher and Herschelle Gibbs.

All four say the experience of playing in that game would have positive benefits.

”From our side we gained a lot of experience in that game,” Kallis said. ”Looking back there are a few things that we might have tried to do differently so the experience we’ve carried around for all these years will probably stand us in good stead.”

While Australia has been in top form at the World Cup, South Africa won the last competition between the two teams 3-2, winning the last match by overhauling Australia’s world record one-day international score of 434. ‒ Sapa-AP

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

G is for glamour, not garage shop

Pantry by Marble is disrupting the forecourt shop status quo by offering restaurant-quality services on site

If the state won’t deal with civil war criminals, then...

Liberia decided not to prosecute anyone for crimes committed during its first and second civil wars. Now, one organisation is documenting and aiding prosecution outside the country

Home Suite Hotel: A hidden gem in Sea Point

Founded by the man behind LIFT Airlines, Gidon Novick, Home Suite Hotel knows a thing or two about curating a fresh experience on an old concept.

Latest design and foodie trends at Durban Home Garden Show

The event celebrates 40 years of the city’s design scene. The 2022 edition brings together fashion folk, beer culture, architecture and greenery, while giving visitors their cultural fix
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×