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03 Jun 2009 14:50
Since readmission in 1991, South Africa has never reached a World Cup final and has usually been the architect of its own downfall. That reputation for choking will have to change if the team is to challenge for the Twenty20 World Cup.
“We have had a wonderful past 12 months, which has included winning away test series in both England and Australia and winning home-and-away one-day international series against Australia to gain top sport in the world rankings,” captain Graeme Smith said.
“One of the boxes we still want to tick is to win a major International Cricket Council Championship.”
In 1999, Allan Donald was run out on the last ball of the Proteas’ semifinal against Australia in the 50-over World Cup, needing only to avoid losing a wicket to go through.
The embarrassment was even more acute in 2003, when Shaun Pollock’s side miscalculated the run rate needed to beat Sri Lanka in a rain-affected match and was eliminated in the group stage.
South Africa hosted the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2007, but failed to reach the semifinals.
The Proteas performed excellently to win test and ODI series in Australia in 2008/09, but its fallibility was emphasized when it lost the home test series to Australia soon after.
South Africa doesn’t lack for talent, boasting four of the world’s top-10 ODI batsmen and receiving greater exposure to twenty20 cricket when the Indian Premier League was switched to the country because of security concerns in India.
Twelve of South Africa’s 15-man squad for the Twenty20 World Cup, which starts Friday at Lord’s, played in the IPL.
“I have been very happy with the form our players have shown in the IPL in the run-up to the World T20, and this augurs well for a good performance,” Smith said.—Sapa
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