Its not everyday that we get a chance to create history, to cross the threshold and write a new future, to take the albatross off our back. Its not everyday that we can erase the misfortunes of the past and tread into a world of possibilities where we truly belong. And in all such moments, which can make heroes out of ordinary individuals, South Africa fumbles.
SA seem to be robbed off the enthusiasm to correct things and the will to change it. It’s like, they are so scared to lose that they end up losing in fear of it. The matches are lost much before they are played, in their minds. The same thing happened to SA against NZ. Chasing a moderate total of 221, they crumbled for 176.
Earlier in the tournament they had choked to England. But they came back well in the next few matches. Like everybody else, I too thought that they were done with choking. Since its already happened before, they would’ve brushed it aside and moved on. But the burden of winning the critical QF got to them. From a strong position of 120 odd for loss of 2 wickets, they were cruising along. And then, something happened. They were faced with the fact that this win would take them to the SF and they choked under pressure.
What’s worse is the fact that this isn’t the first time they have choked. They have had a string of such choking moments, starting from 1992 World Cup. That was the first time SA played in a world cup tournament and they made it till the knock out stage. But they couldn’t deliver the knock out punch. It was a rainy day and the target of 22 runs from 13 balls was suddenly reduced to 22 from 1 ball, and SA lost by 19 runs. It was just unfortunate that they couldn’t make it. Such a talented team was out of the tourney.
Then came 1996, where they lost to WI by 19 runs. They were going well and suddenly someone pressed the panic button and the boat of hope capsized in no time. Again in 1999, luck did not go their way. The match that they should have won with ease, eventually ended up in a tie. Klussner blasted 3 fours in the last over and tied the score. Just 1 run was needed to win and they had 3 balls remaining. Klussner should have gone for a flourishing drive but he tried to take a cheeky single. With the last pair at the crease, Donald, ran his hardest but was run-out. Thus ending their hope for 1999 WC.
In every WC edition, South Africa has been counted among the best teams and potential winners. But these self-effacing matches and not seizing the moment has cost them dearly. The 2003 WC was held in SA with the hope that home team would lift the cup. But again, as fate would have it, another Duckworth-Lewis calculation let them down. Boucher was at the crease and had levelled the score as per D/L method, according to the communication that he received from his coach. And he ended up wasting the remaining 3 balls. Had he taken a single run in those 3 balls, SA would have bee through. But SA were cheated off the WC again, this time owing to miscommunication and misunderstanding of the D/L method.
In all these matches, SA were chasing a score ad they lost. They choked and couldn’t go past the finish line. But before one assumes that SA probably should try defending a score and maybe that would work for them, let me add that in 2007 WC they lost defending a score. SA lost to Australia, who eventually went on to win the cup.
So, what we see is a steady pattern where SA have choked time and again in every important match. Its not like they can’t win. They chased 434 against Aus and won the game, they have beaten the best of teams. But when it comes to WC matches, especially elimination or knock-out matches, they turn off-color. SA needs to introspect why this happens to them. They probably need a pep talk or some kind of psychological help to build their confidence and up their morale. Its high time SA claim their rightful place in world cricket. They are among the best teams of the world that deserves to lift the cup at least once. They play fantastic cricket throughout the year, win matches in home and away, and still when it comes to WC they choke. I just hope they get rid of this choker tag soon. We would like to see SA lift the cup, hopefully next time.
This post was first published on Yahoo Network