South Africa’s cricket team claims to have shed the ‘chokers’ tag. I see no evidence. Another significant international tournament, another Proteas team in fantastic form and progressing well.
They are favoured to win a major trophy again. Yet, something inside me predicts a late tournament stumble.
South Africa is in tremendous form, beating Australia in all forms of the game in the summer and starting this tournament with a bang.
There is no excuse for the Proteas to lose.
AB de Villiers, arguably the best player in world cricket at present, is leading the batting with aplomb. Wayne Parnell bowled four of the best overs in Twenty20 history against the Windies, whilst Steyn and the South African spinners have been impressive throughout the tournament.
However, if we take a look back at all the major international cricket trophies since 1996, when South Africa’s golden era of being the second best team in world cricket began, the statistics are mind-blowing:
World Cup 96 – SA collapsed dramatically in quarterfinals
World Cup 99 – SA infamously ‘choked’ TWICE against AUS
ICC Knockout 00 – Made it to the final! But lost…
ICC Knockout 02 – South Africa lost from an astonishing position against India in semis
World Cup 03 – Favoured to do well at home but didn’t make it past the group stage
ICC Knockout 04 – Didn’t make it past the group stage
ICC Knockout 06 – Semi-finalists
World Cup 07 – Capitulated against Australia
ICC Twenty20 07 – SA started the tournament with 4 straight wins, but lost to NZ in the Super 8s and missed out on NRR.
History speaks for itself [okay, South Africa won the ICC Knockout in 1998].
But are this bunch of Proteas too young to remember their country’s countless cock-ups? Probably not.
Gibbs, Kallis and Boucher have endured numerous chokes, Smith joined the trio soon thereafter, and hence the core of the South Africa’s batting [and the team for that matter] still carries the choking burden.
I’m predicting Steyn, Parnell and Van der Merwe to keep Pakistan, or whoever they play in the semi-final, to a reasonable if not a low total. This will be followed by a drastic South African top order collapse, for no reason.
It’s South Africa’s tournament to lose, anyway.