July 7, 2008

South Africa in England 2008

Choke or panic?

George Binoy

"The 'chokers' tag attached to South Africa's cricket team since their return from sporting isolation 17 years ago may be due a revision following the appointment of a bit-part England one-day player called Jeremy Snape to their coaching staff," writes Derek Pringle in the Telegraph.

If Snape had been involved back then [1999 World Cup semi-final], he could have told [Allan] Donald that what he and [Lance] Klusener did was not choke but panic. The responses look similar to the untutored eye but, according to studies in America, they are actually poles apart. According to research, choking comes from thinking too much, panic from thinking too little. Ergo, if Klusener had thought about the broader context of his situation, that a World Cup final was as good as theirs (a big thought beyond the present), he might not have been able to hit the ball, which would have been a choke. But if he had thought a bit more about that over in hand, focusing on the fact there were still two balls left (a small thought very much in the present), then he might have averted the panic that saw him set off for that risky run.

"Days before England face the first stage of a pace ordeal against South Africa, Michael Vaughan, the captain, has expressed his desire to create a reunion of the fast bowling club that helped deliver the 2005 Ashes," writes Mike Selvey in the Guardian.

In Supercricket, Neil Manthorp feels the typically English attitide of sporting pessimism has made South Africa favourites to win the series. The stalemate at Taunton is an example.

It won't be Dale Steyn's or Morne Morkel's wickets, or Jacques Kallis' runs or Graeme Smith's captaincy which will win this series, it will be the team's collective ability to recognise the look in the eye of whichever Englishman is calling upon his last reserves of desermination and strength.

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George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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