World Cup 2011 March 26, 2011

A fast-acting, unHeimlichManoeuvrable choke

At the end of another tumultuous quarter-final in Dhaka, the floodlights went out and fireworks blasted themselves across the Mirpur skies
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At the end of another tumultuous quarter-final in Dhaka, the floodlights went out and fireworks blasted themselves across the Mirpur skies. The explosive din reached a crescendo, and then faded. Bangladesh’s role as World Cup co-hosts was at an end. Then, from the still-packed stands of the Shere Bangla, the supporters who had filled the stadium to watch South Africa and New Zealand struck up a chant: “Bangladesh, Bangladesh, Bangladesh, Bangladesh”.

So it continued for a minute or more, an outpouring of communal pride that touched the soul of cricket. Then a man took hold of the stadium public address system and started reeling off a thank-you list of the tournament sponsors, and normality reasserted itself.

But for that minute, watching and listening on the press box roof from where I had seen the tournament begin in glorious enthusiasm five weeks ago, it was an entrancing moment, moving and hopeful, for Bangladesh as a nation and for cricket as a sport. If the 2007 World Cup skated across the Caribbean leaving barely a trace of its passing, this one will surely leave a deep and lasting imprint on this country at least.

This, of course, will do little to lighten the mood this morning in South Africa. Both sides fluctuated between brilliance and flawlessness in the field, and both bowling attacks applied constricting pressure throughout. The game was decided by slight but fatal errors by Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, dismissed by a wide one and a long hop respectively, which prompted a three-ball brain melt in which JP Duminy self-immolated and Faf du Plessis momentarily forgot one of the two things I imagine he was thinking to himself as he walked to the wicket:

Thought 1: “I must try not to get myself out.” Thought 2: “Even more importantly than that, I absolutely must try my best not to run out AB de Villiers after he has just hit three sublime boundaries on a pitch where others have struggled to time the ball and two balls after our last experienced international batsman took an inopportune ride on board the Crazy Train, and bought a one-way single to Pavilion Central. Remember that, young Faf, and remember it well.”

South Africa’s patent Achilles heel, their elongated tail, was exposed, and New Zealand maintained ruthless pressure. Where India beat Australia with decisively good play, South Africa lost to New Zealand due to decisively bad play. Only Johan Botha was dismissed without batting error. The Kiwis closed out the victory through their own excellence, but the game turned on an outbreak of self-inflicted South African chaos. South Africa placed New Zealand’s hands on their own throat. New Zealand gleefully and clinically completed the strangle.

Smith’s men needed 4.5 per over for 25 overs with 8 wickets in hand, with one certified and one potential future greats of the game at the crease. Constricting bowling should not have been enough. If making pivotal errors of decision-making and execution at crucial stages constitutes a choke, then this was certifiably a choke. A fast-acting, quick-spluttering, unHeimlichManoeuvrable choke. And it was painful to watch, even as an Englishman.

● Jesse Ryder played the day’s most important innings with skill, power, restraint and determination, but the best strokeplay was unfurled by de Villiers. He hit four boundaries. The first was a simple on-side drive from a Woodcock full toss. The next two were shots of breathtaking execution and class. First, Oram bowled a good length ball that would have passed inches from the top of off-stump. De Villiers, with a break of the wrists, drove it just behind point at bullet speed.

Two overs later, Southee bowled another perfectly sound ball, heading towards middle stump on an acceptable length. This time, de Villiers leant forward, eased through an unhurried swing, and the ball hurtled between mid-off and extra-cover as if it was rushing home to check whether or not it had left its oven on. Four overs after this, he placed his magic bat in the path of another Southee delivery, full and straight, and within seconds the ball was having a cup of tea and a chinwag with the straight-long-on boundary and the sightscreen.

The next over, Duminy conked out, du Plessis called de Villiers for a single which was as well-advised as French kiss with a crocodile, and the game was decisively broken.

De Villiers could, perhaps would, have won the match for South Africa with merely competent support. Being chainsawed by his own team-mate was a definite procedural glitch. Or the greatest tactical howler in the history of sport. At least since plucky British boxer Micky ‘Bread-Fists’ Sprank tried to prevent Muhammad Ali landing an early knock-out punch by smashing himself on the head with a heavy-based frying pan in the opening seconds of round 1.

In my cricket-obsessed youth, whilst my contemporaries were reading valuable tomes from the library of teenage life (such as The Art Of Efficacious Flirting, and Drinking Lots And Falling Over – How To Simultaneously Cause And Mitigate Personal Embarrassments), I spent most of my time snout down in cricket books, truffling for statistics or insights into the history of the game which I played with such minimal distinction and in which I would go on to conclusively not represent my country.

I remember reading a description of Len Hutton’s batting, I think by John Arlott, in which the great Yorkshireman was described as seeming to have electricity in his forearms. At the time, I could not fully envisage what the writer meant by this. Watch those de Villiers boundaries. That is what he meant.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Future Saffer Coach on March 29, 2011, 10:49 GMT

    The problem with SA is that they are too calculating. They place too much emphasis on planning and preparation. All the preparation in the world is not gonna help in those situations! You need the fighting spirit. In many ways SA need take a leaf out of teams like Pakistan who are in many ways SA's opposite. They play the game with passion and fight. This means they are sometimes unpredictable but SA are on the other extreme they will beat everyone before the crunch games then choke. The one big match player for SA recently has been Gibbs. But they dropped him because he goes against the grain of the SA approach. He is aggressive and unpredictable. SA want consistency. Who was at the helm of the SA chase in the greatest pressure cooker match? the 438 game? It was Gibbs who made 175. SA need to balance their professionalism and consistency with a bit of aggression and free strokeplay like the "tournament teams" (India, Aus, Pak, SL)

  • prashant on March 29, 2011, 3:09 GMT

    French kiss with Crocodile?..........AB should read it...very funny ..by d way you just forget NZ fielding...should write something on them...

  • W on March 28, 2011, 21:28 GMT

    Marvellous piece, loved it! Hopefully my Proteas team will read it as well, have a laugh and move on.

  • Spelele on March 28, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    Now the mindless like Andy will start to invoke the chokers theory all over again. I said it before the WC started; the side that will win the cup will need both skills and luck. Without the latter, its vertually impossible. I would say that if S.A choked, then that contributed ONLY 30% to the result. Amla's dismissal was the most FREAKY in any WC and for it to happen in a crunch Quater-final game was just too unfair to S.A. Duminy's one was a poor shot, but it kept very low; Kallis was unlucky to be caught from one that seemed to be sailing for 6. I could go on and on, the toss was also crucial etc. But all that, just like saying that it was S.A that choked would be taking the credit away from the Kiwis who were obviously awesome! Flawless fielding, coupled with AMAZING luck, was what sealed it in the end. S.A definitely, and rightly so, will not attribute the loss to bad luck because they are talented enough to have defied all those odds. In reality, fate was too good:)

  • Oi Oi Oi on March 28, 2011, 2:59 GMT

    What was telling to me was how Graham Smith talked about one day achieving the world they "deserved". You don't deserve the world cup, you win the world cup.

  • Sam from NZ on March 28, 2011, 0:08 GMT

    Being in a time zone that makes the World cup a real commitment to watch I have to say after the India Aus game and then the SAF NZ game the investment was well worth it. Sitting in my living room at 4:00AM watching the Saffas self distruct was tremendous. It was as though as a team they had reached an almost unbearable level of pressure, similar to the first fumblings of a young man trying to remove a ladies Bra strap with one hand. Chin up SAF fans there will be some heads rolling for leaving such a weak middle order. I raised the eyebrows when Boucher and Albie Morkel were left out upon reading through the squads pre tournament. I guess as a Rugby fan in NZ we well know by now you cannot afford to leave that kind of experience at home(especially Boucher) in the big games. Go the Kiwis!!

  • marlon levin on March 27, 2011, 21:50 GMT

    Did SA have to go into the match against NZ with a long tail. Not unless they felt their bowling attack would be exposed.

    Here are some things that left me scratching my head: 1. Why did Jacque Kallis only bowl 3 overs, when all that he had conceded was 6 runs? Unless injured, he should have taken up the overs given to Peterson and Duminy, who both conceded in excess of 4.50 runs per over with 1 wicket between them;

    2. Given that Ingram or van Wyk were not selcted to play, why did SA not consider opening with Robin Peterson and along with the either Amla or Smith, thus shoring up the middle order?

    I know that I will be accused of having the hindsight after the fact, but at the death matches almost always require creativity and "out of the box" thinking.

  • Cricketfan on March 27, 2011, 21:01 GMT

    Hi This is hilarious. French kiss with Croc. I pity SA. They were well worthy of being in the final. However, the moment Amla was out, I predicted the great SA 'C'. Cheers. It will be India-Newzealand finals.

  • Anonymous on March 27, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    Now the mindless like Andy will start to invoke the chokers theory all over again. I said it before the WC started; the side that will win the cup will need both skills and luck. Without the latter, its vertually impossible. I would say that if S.A choked, then that contributed ONLY 30% to the result. Amla's dismissal was the most FREAKY in any WC and for it to happen in a crunch Quater-final game was just too unfair to S.A. Duminy's one was a poor shot, but it kept very low; Kallis was unlucky to be caught from one that seemed to be sailing for 6. I could go on and on, the toss was also crucial etc. But all that, just like saying that it was S.A that choked would be taking the credit away from the Kiwis who were obviously awesome! Flawless fielding, coupled with AMAZING luck, was what sealed it in the end. S.A definitely, and rightly so, will not attribute the loss to bad luck because they are talented enough to have defied all those odds. In reality, fate was too good:)

  • Anonymous on March 27, 2011, 16:39 GMT

    Kallis again proved in this WC that he is only a great test player not ODI player.................Sympathies for DeVilliers though.

  • Future Saffer Coach on March 29, 2011, 10:49 GMT

    The problem with SA is that they are too calculating. They place too much emphasis on planning and preparation. All the preparation in the world is not gonna help in those situations! You need the fighting spirit. In many ways SA need take a leaf out of teams like Pakistan who are in many ways SA's opposite. They play the game with passion and fight. This means they are sometimes unpredictable but SA are on the other extreme they will beat everyone before the crunch games then choke. The one big match player for SA recently has been Gibbs. But they dropped him because he goes against the grain of the SA approach. He is aggressive and unpredictable. SA want consistency. Who was at the helm of the SA chase in the greatest pressure cooker match? the 438 game? It was Gibbs who made 175. SA need to balance their professionalism and consistency with a bit of aggression and free strokeplay like the "tournament teams" (India, Aus, Pak, SL)

  • prashant on March 29, 2011, 3:09 GMT

    French kiss with Crocodile?..........AB should read it...very funny ..by d way you just forget NZ fielding...should write something on them...

  • W on March 28, 2011, 21:28 GMT

    Marvellous piece, loved it! Hopefully my Proteas team will read it as well, have a laugh and move on.

  • Spelele on March 28, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    Now the mindless like Andy will start to invoke the chokers theory all over again. I said it before the WC started; the side that will win the cup will need both skills and luck. Without the latter, its vertually impossible. I would say that if S.A choked, then that contributed ONLY 30% to the result. Amla's dismissal was the most FREAKY in any WC and for it to happen in a crunch Quater-final game was just too unfair to S.A. Duminy's one was a poor shot, but it kept very low; Kallis was unlucky to be caught from one that seemed to be sailing for 6. I could go on and on, the toss was also crucial etc. But all that, just like saying that it was S.A that choked would be taking the credit away from the Kiwis who were obviously awesome! Flawless fielding, coupled with AMAZING luck, was what sealed it in the end. S.A definitely, and rightly so, will not attribute the loss to bad luck because they are talented enough to have defied all those odds. In reality, fate was too good:)

  • Oi Oi Oi on March 28, 2011, 2:59 GMT

    What was telling to me was how Graham Smith talked about one day achieving the world they "deserved". You don't deserve the world cup, you win the world cup.

  • Sam from NZ on March 28, 2011, 0:08 GMT

    Being in a time zone that makes the World cup a real commitment to watch I have to say after the India Aus game and then the SAF NZ game the investment was well worth it. Sitting in my living room at 4:00AM watching the Saffas self distruct was tremendous. It was as though as a team they had reached an almost unbearable level of pressure, similar to the first fumblings of a young man trying to remove a ladies Bra strap with one hand. Chin up SAF fans there will be some heads rolling for leaving such a weak middle order. I raised the eyebrows when Boucher and Albie Morkel were left out upon reading through the squads pre tournament. I guess as a Rugby fan in NZ we well know by now you cannot afford to leave that kind of experience at home(especially Boucher) in the big games. Go the Kiwis!!

  • marlon levin on March 27, 2011, 21:50 GMT

    Did SA have to go into the match against NZ with a long tail. Not unless they felt their bowling attack would be exposed.

    Here are some things that left me scratching my head: 1. Why did Jacque Kallis only bowl 3 overs, when all that he had conceded was 6 runs? Unless injured, he should have taken up the overs given to Peterson and Duminy, who both conceded in excess of 4.50 runs per over with 1 wicket between them;

    2. Given that Ingram or van Wyk were not selcted to play, why did SA not consider opening with Robin Peterson and along with the either Amla or Smith, thus shoring up the middle order?

    I know that I will be accused of having the hindsight after the fact, but at the death matches almost always require creativity and "out of the box" thinking.

  • Cricketfan on March 27, 2011, 21:01 GMT

    Hi This is hilarious. French kiss with Croc. I pity SA. They were well worthy of being in the final. However, the moment Amla was out, I predicted the great SA 'C'. Cheers. It will be India-Newzealand finals.

  • Anonymous on March 27, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    Now the mindless like Andy will start to invoke the chokers theory all over again. I said it before the WC started; the side that will win the cup will need both skills and luck. Without the latter, its vertually impossible. I would say that if S.A choked, then that contributed ONLY 30% to the result. Amla's dismissal was the most FREAKY in any WC and for it to happen in a crunch Quater-final game was just too unfair to S.A. Duminy's one was a poor shot, but it kept very low; Kallis was unlucky to be caught from one that seemed to be sailing for 6. I could go on and on, the toss was also crucial etc. But all that, just like saying that it was S.A that choked would be taking the credit away from the Kiwis who were obviously awesome! Flawless fielding, coupled with AMAZING luck, was what sealed it in the end. S.A definitely, and rightly so, will not attribute the loss to bad luck because they are talented enough to have defied all those odds. In reality, fate was too good:)

  • Anonymous on March 27, 2011, 16:39 GMT

    Kallis again proved in this WC that he is only a great test player not ODI player.................Sympathies for DeVilliers though.

  • Abhishek on March 27, 2011, 16:27 GMT

    Nice article. The french kiss bit was hilarious. But i have found ur podcasts more hilarious though.

    Request more podcasts from you. Its great

    Keep going. Thanks

  • Masud Anwar on March 27, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    My prediction was SA victory over NZ. I couldn't imagine such an awful result at Mirpur on 26th March. Really SA is one of my favorite teams. Wish their good luck in future.

  • Brian on March 27, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    Comedians should not write about world cup cricket in the knock-out stages.

  • Chris on March 27, 2011, 12:17 GMT

    NZ I love you so.

  • lakmal Raja on March 27, 2011, 9:55 GMT

    What a gargantuan tragedy that was. I couldn't believe my eyes! . The proteas were superbly cruising like a set of fire works lit at the glorious opening ceremony.But soon after Kallis tried to go to the pavillion with the intention of giving his poor team mates a chance, all went wrong at a glance.They fell like a house of cards.The entire South african sand castle was demolished by the thunderous sea wave called 'choking'.what an anticlimax that was.probably smith might have seen a bad dream. But that match was the Hercules of choking.

  • Hermandw on March 27, 2011, 9:38 GMT

    A good batsman edging a ball in the beginning overs against a good ball from a good bowler is normal in any game. Playing it onto the wicketkeeper's foot, and then getting caught out by a second fielder is very unusual - probably a million to one odds or worse. There is an element of luck in any game - Amla's dismissal was extreme bad luck. SA needed his usual good start to really get into the game.

    The Smith & Kallis dismissals were just typical of their current struggle for form. Duminy's dismissal was due to his usual dangerous style of play. De Villier's dismissal was good fielding, bad calling and some more bad luck. Pietersen's dismissal was good bowling. Du Plessis kept on fighting right to the end. The tail could not be expected to save the game for SA - no tail would have been able to do so.

    I did not see any any signs of choking in SA's loss to NZ. Why is it called choking when SA loses, when OZ and England's crashes could be described in the exact same terms but isn't?

  • Anonymous on March 27, 2011, 9:07 GMT

    SA, what a mixed bag of emotions they can cause. Sympathy, sadness, hilarity, astonishment... Top of the heap in group stage, out of the tournament in the first knockout game to the most unassuming of opponents. They need help, the non-cricketing kind.

  • Khuram Khan on March 27, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    Barring all the verbosity,this was a fatal CHOKE applied skillfully by the Maories Land Team.

  • gulle phjada on March 27, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    "french kiss with a crocodile" hilarious. keep it up mate

  • harry on March 27, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    Its is a common problem in the media that often we fail to recognize the excellent effort by the "under-dog" team and only talk about how a "favorite" team lost a match. For example, if Ireland wins against a test playing nation, it is an upset. Why? It is upsetting for the loosing team, fair enough. But the headline should be Irelnad played better to win against a stronger (on paper) team. media really sucks.

  • iscariot on March 27, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    Not a whole lot of credit given to New Zealand; I guess it is somewhat more difficult to create a series of original bon mots based on notions of a team playing with the discipline of an Calvinist employment scheme... At least there weren't any sheep jokes...

  • Ahsha on March 27, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    Maybe the truth is that South Africa are nowhere near as good as everybody seems to think-the results make this conclusion obvious.

  • Shafiq on March 27, 2011, 4:46 GMT

    I m fed up pf listening about South Africa as the best team, the unlucky, the chokers, the XYZ. They simply do not yet have it for world tournament level. They should become more open, more friendly. They should not only respect game, but respect those who play the game. If one wants to check only on paper, then probably pakistan is the most unluckiest team ever, the best one since 1947, who always have great talent but are seldom number 1 because of different social, political in competencies.

  • nafi on March 27, 2011, 4:25 GMT

    sa never choked when they bat first......./////if they got toss....they should have won ....

  • Hayden on March 27, 2011, 4:19 GMT

    Don't forget that New Zealand Made the last ODI Final in the 2010 ICC champions trophy with a lot of the members of this current team. Pakistan & New Zealand are the only 2 teams to make it to the last 4 in the last 2 World ODI tournaments. I know we've had bad form of late but NZ is definately underated as a 50 over team. We have arguably the deepest batting line up in the comp & our bowlers are always underated because they're not as flash as some of the other countries but what they do have is great discipline & everyone knows NZ always pride themselves on their fielding.

  • Ganesh on March 27, 2011, 4:10 GMT

    Well, while this game had 2 winners - NZ & SA. Both teams beat South Africa. So effectively, SA won & lost. Since NZ only won, technically they qualify for the Semi finals. So SA lost out by a thin margin indeed...

  • John Hollioake on March 27, 2011, 3:32 GMT

    Who out there thinks this world cup represents a world cup?

    I believe that there are three things that make it a non event.

    1.Let's face it we all knew who the best 8 teams in the world were before we started this long unintersting event. The result was basically already known before we started, but with the usual silly little upsets caused by either, complacency, the worst of the conditions, dew, slow track and others. 2.The pitches can't last more than three hours at their equal opportunity status. 3. The 8 top teams play each other once in a knockout time, what a joke.

    Consequently we get results such as New Zealand's against South Africa. I would much rather see NZ beat SA, but really does anyone out there think that NZ are in the same league as SA? Why can't these best 8 teams be put in two groups and play each other twice and just have one GF between the top teams from that and be done with it.

    IT'S BORING ICC. Let's aslo get bent arms out of the game, 15 degrees is a throw!!

  • Mani on March 27, 2011, 1:33 GMT

    du Plessis called de Villiers for a single which was as well-advised as French kiss with a crocodile

    Classic, marvelous

    big fan and keep up the good work Andy !!

  • David Laking on March 27, 2011, 1:04 GMT

    New Zealand have the luxury of having pretty low expectations at home; hence no pressure. This is the beauty of being a Black Caps supporter. I don't really care if they lose their semi now. They've proven the doubters wrong once again.

  • Decorum on March 27, 2011, 0:16 GMT

    The cricket discussion was good but the opening was a real hometown post. Personally, I think the local crowd breaking into a chant of "Bangladesh! Bangladesh!" is anything but 'an entrancing moment' and fills me with woe for Bangladesh as a nation and for cricket as a sport. If we were in America and this was the usual chant of "U.S.A! U.S.A!" how would you see it? If it was 20,000 wombats at the MCG screaming "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!" would you still think it 'an outpouring of communal pride that touched the soul of cricket'? No: you'd see it as the hollow jingoism it is, I suspect. Still, you'll doubtless be hailed by millions as a wonderfully open guy, AZ, and a gracious visitor, so the shameless pandering will have worked for you, I guess.

  • Navin on March 26, 2011, 23:04 GMT

    Both Kallis and Smith deserved the outcome. Kallis did not have a courtsey to applaud Tendulkar when he scored 50th test century against them, and Smith gave a tongue in cheek reply when asked about that in the press conference. Unsportsman like conduct deserves a spanking that they got from NZ.

  • Ivo on March 26, 2011, 19:32 GMT

    Its interesting that everyone seems to be ignoring the Bizarre dismissal of Amla and the double Nelson ! Cricket is probably the only Sport that is riddled with Superstitious Sportsmen. The Choke tag seems like the proper response of the simple minded when reviewing SA's poor World Cup history when in fact the pattern seems to reveal a possible "Curse"!

  • Sam Brown on March 26, 2011, 19:30 GMT

    For all the grace and class of De Villiers it is interesting to note that he looked more scratchy than a eczema sufferer when he first strode out to the crease. Credit where credit is due, but in this case he scored a dodgy 30 in a losing total. Time to focus on the New Zealand team, they certainly deserve it.

  • Kasinathan on March 26, 2011, 19:22 GMT

    Well Said Andy. I immediately after opening CRICINFO look for your comments. Lot of sattire and thought provoking. The team SA C.....d because they don't have a player with a letter "C" in their names. If only they had a player with a letter "c" in any part of the name they would have forgotten the big "C" and would have won The leeter "c" will haunt them forever SO in future it will be " ricket South Afria" and not Cricket South Africa. I also got the news from unreliable quarters that South African Government wants 25 Alphabets only leaving "C" in schools and in Offi.es. Is it TRUE? Flying Kiss to the Crocadile Continue this Andy With Laughters Kasinathan

  • Prakash on March 26, 2011, 19:07 GMT

    Good one Zaltz...Proteas once again led themselves down. Basically, a game they lost rather than a game won by Kiwis. Kiwis didn't have any decisive bowling spell but they made the difference with their fielding. Lets hope 'C' word no more follows SA :)

  • Kumar on March 26, 2011, 17:45 GMT

    SA are in look out for a new coach, an Aussie coach for Saffers is what i suggest. And who better than the man who labeled them with the 'chokers' tag - Steven Roger Waugh ? Sounds bad?

  • pitha on March 26, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    Its almost as if these cricket writers are trying to create a hero where none exists. With all due respect to AB deveries I have not seen anything which justifies this hype. Every once in a while they come up with a character and clain he is a future great, like greame hicks(much hyped and then dumped) and then Kevin Petersen (again much hype but not seen that greatness). Seems like Kevin is already out of geatness hype and now they are pumping up ab deviries. Let him play for a couple of years and then lets talk about the so called greatness. I am no saying ab deveries or kevin petersen are bad players they are good players but no where near the hype that is being created about them

  • Mashuq A on March 26, 2011, 17:29 GMT

    Very amusing, as usual, Andy. However, allow me back in the RSA to strike a more sombre note. As an unpatriotic Saffer, might I suggest that the mentality of denial so imprinted in the psyches of so many of my privileged fellow citizens is the reason for the softheadedness that emerges whenever the stakes are raised. If you spend your lives cushioned from (or blind to) the realities faced by the hardships of your fellow citizens, just how are you supposed to stare yourselves in the mirror when you wake up (like this morning) to the underlying flabby mentality of a people unused to struggle? Yes, it is sport, but like life around them, facing up to challenges honestly, like people in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and lately New Zealand is what separates the men from the boys. But if you unconsciously have half your mind anticipating the worst because you can't embrace "the other" persona, you must expect that split psyche that osman b above implies in his comment.

  • Geethanga on March 26, 2011, 17:03 GMT

    Hey Andy,

    Couldn't help noticing that you always come out of your shell when some other side is in trouble and England is playing ok. But now what happened. Time to go inside your shell again and have some silence. England has produced another remarkable choke today. Sri Lanka chased down their 230 in less than 40 overs and without loosing a wicket. Like Sidhu once said whole england team is a hospital. Now it's time for you to laugh at your self and write something about your chokers. Only difference between England and South Africa is England managed to win T20 World Cup other than that they are pretty much the same. No BIG wins. So go on and write something about them.

  • Tanveer Ahmad on March 26, 2011, 16:27 GMT

    Good Luck for SA in future cricket but there must be some person who will focus to build their mental strength, so that they will fight till last wicket.

  • Sohel ahmed on March 26, 2011, 16:25 GMT

    I believe you have spent a good time in our country.Thanks a lot for acknowledging our enthusiasm and true love for the great game of cricket.And thanks again for seeing the positives in this nation.Hope you will come back again in Bangladesh.All the best wishes for you and your family.

  • Pieter on March 26, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    An entertaining article. One thing needs more attention; New Zealand fielded and bowled out of their skins.

    I shivered when SA described a dead rubber against India as breaking the chokers lable - that was silly. The only importance of that game was to decide who plays NZ. Anyone who thinks playing NZ in a world cup knock-out game is better than playing anyone else is either a child or has a very short memory. The Black Caps proved it again this time but no proof was really needed.

    Why did Smith, Kallis and De Villiers (who wasn't ready to run and thus must've known in his superior/experienced judgement that it was time for being conservative) throw their wickets away? It is one of the enigmas of cricket, even though the short format of the game is fickle and anything CAN happen.

    Previously, South Africa crashed through an umpire who arbitrarily ruled that Gibbs celebrated too early, rain, mad running and bad maths. Lable undeserved. This time, utter madness. Lable deserved.

  • ravi on March 26, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    i saw de villiers innings yesterday and also on India's tour to sa. He is by far the best batsman I have seen since ricky ponting in 95.

  • B_destroyer on March 26, 2011, 15:19 GMT

    count on this "THE FALLEN WILL RISE" in the next world cup. smith, towering over 6ft, such broad shoulder and chest, not a ordinary man he is a tiger, a scary tiger suffering from wound. he will bounce back. if india can do it with limited talent why SA cant do it with so many talents??? as a indian i will miss d title clash between SA n IND but hope to see dem in next WC. as a supporter of smith and De villiers, smith need to get his fluency back. hope to see him in next WC with fluency and de villiers with a perfect master class. ATLAST GO INDIA GO....BEST OF LUCK team INDIA.

  • osman b on March 26, 2011, 15:17 GMT

    Smack bang on the button andy. Being a sa fan all my life I've sort of anticipated this sooner or later. Stats wise nz's best batsman, taylor only comes in after 5 sa batsman in odi ave. and nz's best bowler only comes 4th after 3 sa bowlwers in averages so realistically sa should have walked this match. However the unpredictable nature of odi's coupled with the psychological inferiority of the sa brainstrust wrt their in ability to foresee a match situation and play accordingly. If you analyse sa's performances over the years in all forms of cricket you would see that for the most part once faced with a challenge at any level, their thought pattern seems to follow like this : "what is the worst outcome of this particular situation and how best can it be achieved?". There are exceptions, but frustratingly for their fans too far and few between.

  • Arvind on March 26, 2011, 14:58 GMT

    French kiss with a crocodile. I am astonished how you think up such awesome metaphors.

  • B_destroyer on March 26, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    nice nice article.....but i really feel sorry for SA. i was supportin d team from 2001 but always experiencing an upset, but i will still support SA. perhaps SA need to play attacking cricket in d quarters so dat dey will hv d confidence to tackle d tricky situations later. as an indian i was expecting a title clash between SA and IND....but....perhaps next tym.really SA made me cry......BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME and ANDY, u destroyer keep these comming......

  • Alan on March 26, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    Well said Andy. Many folks were surprised in SA when Faf duP was selected - precisely because of his inexperience. The irony of ironies is that Faf & AB have played a lot of cricket together ever since high school where they went together. Of any two players not supposed to run each other out, Faf & AB should be up there.

    Great column, keep up the blogging!

  • Gaurav on March 26, 2011, 12:48 GMT

    You are purely in love with AB, aren't you! He is really good though.

  • PieterSA on March 26, 2011, 12:47 GMT

    Brilliantly written piece! English prose. Your descriptions of AB's 4 4's made me saw it in my mind's eye in all its magnificence. Compassionate, funny, scathing (but true) of South Africa's ineptness to finish off a game they should have on the trot (maybe they needed an ex-SA, J Trott).

  • Prs on March 26, 2011, 11:54 GMT

    Brilliant article...

  • Dgrunge on March 26, 2011, 11:19 GMT

    Imagine world cup 2015 in Australia. Semi final aus vs sa. Sa 2 wickets down and cruising, then there is a whisper of noise from the crowd. "choke." The sound swells. "Choke" it repeats. Then the crescendo builds as the chant echoes around the stadium - "choke choke choke". A full bodied stadium wide sledge. Just the way us Aussies like it. Can't wait.

  • Huzaif on March 26, 2011, 11:18 GMT

    French kiss with a crocodile: funny! rather hilarious! zaltzman surely knows how to make you laugh! brilliant!

  • Vishal on March 26, 2011, 11:07 GMT

    "South Africa placed New Zealand’s hands on their own throat. New Zealand gleefully and clinically completed the strangle."

    Sweet as honey :D

  • Somnath S on March 26, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    This column rocks. Keep them coming, Andy !

  • zainsattar on March 26, 2011, 10:01 GMT

    the Moral : the africans choked once again

  • Circe on March 26, 2011, 9:26 GMT

    'unHeimlichManoueverable': Andy, are you secretly taking courses in German?

  • manoj on March 26, 2011, 9:26 GMT

    there is no doubt about that , the so called cho...., had dig their own grave! god will south african ever win any knock out match in world cup!

  • Rashid Sohail on March 26, 2011, 9:07 GMT

    For a cricket lover, it is unbelievable to accept as to how these cricketers involved in cricket day in day out lose their minds in the middle of the match. On the other hand, Vettori showed his mental strenghth as a leader to all other captains, especially to the very dumb Ponting. He put all the pressure on S.Africans by placing most of the fielders inside the circle during entire innings whereas Ponting lost the match by keeping the fielders on the boundary and conceded easy singles to Indians despite the fact that the wicket was more trickier than the one at Dhaka and he had more runs to play with.

  • Anonymous on March 26, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    Another fantastic read Andy! Admittedly, de Villiers is a gem. Well what can I say - Ponting might have risen and SA dazzled (my unofficial winners of the WC2011), but for both teams, actions of extreme proportions are called for. All the last vestiges of SA&AUS ODI cricket must be removed. Smith can continue to captain SA in tests but he&Kallis must make way for Ingram et al in ODIs. While Ponting can continue to captain AUS in tests surely it's time for the young guys to grow into the ODI team now at the expense of him, Lee, Haddin, Husseys, and sadly a young Johnson plus the idle White as well. I love Tait. For as long as he can bowl 150kph+ he can stay for as long as he wants - cricket needs that!

  • Harsimran on March 26, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    I am not sure, but would like to say that SA must hire psychologist to decipher their run of form at crucial stages of world cups... India has always done that whenever they feel the need...really disappointing performance..they were my favorite team after India.. Would have been a cracker of a final between them..

  • adnan on March 26, 2011, 8:21 GMT

    I was really sad yesterday and first time, reading your article is making me sorrow today too. I am not sad at all NZ's win, I am felling the pain because the way SA lost is very very painful. I am sure even great Alan Donald would be in tears when alone in the room later last night.

  • Ruchi on March 26, 2011, 8:17 GMT

    Love the article. It's hilarious...feel sorry for South Africa even though I supported New 'Zeal'and with zeal. Having said that, you can't help but feel that it's South Africa's own doing. I still feel however that this sort of a collapse can happen to just about anybody (except for Australia) and that doesn't necessarily make a team a bunch of 'chokers' - jokers may be...certainly!

  • johnson tapioca on March 26, 2011, 8:08 GMT

    best prosecution of the 'choking' thesis so far. some credit to nz... bowling/fielding has been punching above all tournament too

  • Khurram on March 26, 2011, 8:06 GMT

    as usual nice and interesting. Andy give lavish mode to cricket

  • blue-eyed on March 26, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    Andy Z, your effusive praise of AB's shots yesterday is not misplaced one-bit. AB's boundaries yesterday deserve to be frozen into 5-second clippings and included in the purist's montage of delightful boundaries. One was left wondering if the shots had come from that very same willow which also displays a propensity to thwack the cover off the cricket ball at times. As a true-blue Indian supporter, one part of me couldn't help gloat over the Protean implosion but the other part was utterly dimayed at the self-destruction engineered by them. Full credit to the Kiwis who bowled with purpose and fielded with tigerish resolve. Looks like the world will have to wait for an eternity for a South African triumph at the WC - if this team blessed with so much talent and balance cannot pull it off then which other team can ?

  • srihari on March 26, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    good one zaltz

  • kpsverma on March 26, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    india-australia game--a great swiping at a fast and wide delivery when asking rate was just around 5. a set batsman running himself out on others stroke without the other being enthusiastic about it. a good temerament batsman ( dhony ) taking a wild swipe at a wide delivery staright to fielder.

    NZ-Aussie game: Ditto as above except asking rate which was even lower. both teams were planning the choke.

    india had Yuvraj and Raina who refused to go with team plan. SA lower order obliged and went with the choke plan.as simple as that.

  • Mohan on March 26, 2011, 7:41 GMT

    ndy Zaltzman,you have guessed in the previous article that" if South Africa bat first, they will score 288 for 9. New Zealand will then be bowled out for 235. If New Zealand bat first, they will post 204 all out, which South Africa will chase for the loss of three wickets".Your prediction that it would be 95% correct was not even proved by South Africa.NewZealand played so defensive cricket not to lose wickets,South Africa panicked and were forced to do make things happen while they were fielding.I thought by playing out the fifty overs they became the first team not to be bowled out by South frica.When New Zealand came in to field,they hoped to remove the top four of South African team and when they did do it they knew they could apply pressure on the lower order.The main drawback in this SA team is they did not carry all rounders of good quality;but they trusted on bowlers who can bat well.But in the end it seemed that they panicked when AB de villers got run out.

  • Mohan on March 26, 2011, 7:40 GMT

    Andy Zaltzman,you have guessed in the previous article that" if South Africa bat first, they will score 288 for 9. New Zealand will then be bowled out for 235. If New Zealand bat first, they will post 204 all out, which South Africa will chase for the loss of three wickets".Your prediction that it would be 95% correct was not even proved by South Africa.NewZealand played so defensive cricket not to lose wickets,South Africa panicked and were forced to do make things happen while they were fielding.I thought by playing out the fifty overs they became the first team not to be bowled out by South frica.When New Zealand came in to field,they hoped to remove the top four of South African team and when they did do it they knew they could apply pressure on the lower order.The main drawback in this SA team is they did not carry all rounders of good quality;but they trusted on bowlers who can bat well.But in the end it seemed that they panicked when AB de villers got run out.

  • Masood on March 26, 2011, 7:29 GMT

    It is nice to see NZ in Semis but I wished that there must be SA as they are much better than NZ. Well this is cricket and on the day when any team can do something unusual as Ireland did vs England.

  • simon waters on March 26, 2011, 7:25 GMT

    Cracking blog Zalts, written like a man with poetry in his soul - a true cricket lover. (and to watch a man with nuclear fission coursing through his forearms watch a certain A.Kervezee at New Road this summer)

  • Vidit on March 26, 2011, 7:22 GMT

    Champion chokerss

  • Pitchfly on March 26, 2011, 7:16 GMT

    Andy,

    Please put my comment will you. It goes like

    Hi Andy,

    Great Article. Keep up the good work !!!!

  • Craig on March 26, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    Chokers Chokers Chokers. I'm very sad to say Chokers! Smith looked in terrible form the whole tournament, playing so far from his body more often than not. Why oh why cant SA's mind set allow them to pace an innings. They started off well then lost their heads completely. It troubles me deeply that a proffesional squad can make such schoolboy errors. Just like the game against England where sanity did not prevail and we had to try and smash our way to victory, last night game was a travesty to cool, calm, collected thinking. We went from a cruise JP, to putting ourselves under pressure that just was'nt their. Protea's Shame on You!

  • Eoin on March 26, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    Zaltzman is superpower.

  • NIKHAR on March 26, 2011, 7:03 GMT

    well that was subtle and funny without needlesly insulting anyone. Welcome change.

  • BokFan on March 26, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Sad. SA paid for leaving the middle order, specifically Mark Boucher and Albie Morkel, at home. Would it be sacrilidge to ask if Imran Tahir adds or subtracts balance to/from the team? Morne van Wyk? Faf du Plessis? Strange selections is where the rot started.

    It would have taken a captain Mark Boucher to lead this team to win the WC. Unfortunately, in the post 2003 WC disaster witch-hunt, all things touched by Hansie Cronje were tossed. That sad era is finally over.

    Things can only get better from here. Now that Biff can stop pretending to be a captain, a job he obviously hates, he can focus on regaining his form - some quick runs (the Smith trademark back when) at the top of the order would have helped today.

    Good captains enjoy plying their trade. Strangely you don't see captains like that anymore. Perhaps overanalysis has killed art of cricket captaincy, leaving us with a generation of boring imitators. Sad. Sad for many teams. But mostly, sad for the game.

  • Abbasi on March 26, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    FRENCH KISS WITH A CROCODILE!!!! Sheer imagination! You rock Zaltzman

  • Satish on March 26, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    French kiss with Crocodile? You r just a killer buddy.. No words to describe the enjoyment i get while reading ur posts.. Rock on!!

  • Pulkit on March 26, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    It's pitiable how South Africa have scripted yet another chapter of their treatise on self-destruction. That said, your articles make for some delightful reading, Andy. Keep up the good work.

  • NALINWIJ on March 26, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    This was the battle between two sides with a combined tally of 10 knockout matches at cricket world cup without a win and NZ broke the duck. NZ could be excused in the past as they were usually not as good as the opposition but with the exception of 2007 SA failed in cliff hangers. This was the one occasion where they disintegrated from a winning position against the underdog and hence the real choke!!! You described the choke beautifully and contrasted this with the beauty of DeVilliers batting.

  • Elan on March 26, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    Zaltzy you are funny.. And a very nice read

  • Anonymous on March 26, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    Superb! I loved this article (and others by Zaltzman!)

  • sujit on March 26, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    indeed, the run out of AB divillers changed the complexion of the match. With a long tail on such a tricky wicket SA was always going to struggle in case they lose top 4 quickly. du Pless must be cursing himself for getting AB run out. AB was the man timing ball beautifully and I left to gym thinking an easy SA win. I came back turned my computer on and there it is. The famous south african 'c' is back to hunt them.

  • Gaurav on March 26, 2011, 6:17 GMT

    Lovely almost poetic ending .. i remember crying for the bravehearts in the 92 team after that 22 off 1 ball incident. Yesterday was another story altogether as if this team is destined to be the tragic fall guys ..forever

  • Mohan N. Pai on March 26, 2011, 6:12 GMT

    <<"We've got to admit that we choked," said coach Mickey Arthur. "In fact, we choke so often, we're considerating (sic) hiring a Heimlich manoeuvre specialist to travel with the team," he signed off.>> So wrote Anand Ramachandran, another humorist, in Cricinfo Page 2 on June 21, 2009 after South Africa's semi-final loss in the World Twenty20. Advice not heeded? Or, according to you, futile? :)

  • som on March 26, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    Well written Andy ! Just one suggestion - if its satire, then it must be brief (i.e. the sentence) - as they say - brevity is the soul of wit. Liked your interspersing of satire and the formal though in this article.

  • Waqar Malik on March 26, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    Hay Zaltzman, you very cunningly did not talk about pre-match predictions here :) You underestimates NZ and forgot about the choking history of SA I guess ...

  • Sachin on March 26, 2011, 5:59 GMT

    This one had shades of Andy the Cricket analyst rather than Andy the funny guy. Just for the record, we love both. Well done sir, you have kept us thoroughly enthralled with your writings. Thanks a ton.

  • Sakthi on March 26, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    Oh my God! I feel for De villiers and Kallis more than anyone else. They dont deserve this kind of an exit. The South africans seem to be anticipating bad moments in big games and succumbing to them.Tough Luck!

  • les on March 26, 2011, 5:55 GMT

    Being an Indian fan, I expected a India-SA final. I'm not sure what to expect in this worldcup any more. SA, all I can say is I wouldnt bet on you anymore - lost 50 bucks.

  • dr.nikunj on March 26, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    nice article.south african sysyem needs a massive overhaul.

  • Sha on March 26, 2011, 5:49 GMT

    Andy, With all due respect to your English skills , please cut down the crap and convey the point.

    Of late, The so called Cricket Journalist are getting into habit of trying to be Shakespears.

    Cricket journalism is as beautiful as cricket. Please do not kill. Make it much more interesting.

  • Gaurang on March 26, 2011, 5:45 GMT

    HA HA...french kiss with crocodile :)

  • s.venkat on March 26, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    what a hype south africa did during the india-s.africa series. they deserve to choke throughout the history of cricket.please e-mail this article to g.smith the chokers captain.

  • Niranjan on March 26, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    This time, SA's choke actually made me feel a bit bad, but boy, you nailed this one with so much hilarity, especially the bit involving a french kiss, lol!

  • de villiers on March 26, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    Thanks Andy, great piece. I am a Saffa and can not begin to explain how glum this morning is.

    Good luck to your boys today, at least they have bottle.

  • Kevin on March 26, 2011, 5:13 GMT

    Its sad that nobody care enough to put comments on your blogs but me.

  • Christy on March 26, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    S A have gone from Chokers to Stroke-victims - mind numbing was the way the managed to embrace defeat while sitting on the to-be-Victors throne !!

  • PJ on March 26, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    Your writing is so awesome i suspect you have electricity in your fingers. Lots of respect!

  • Sammy from NZ on March 26, 2011, 4:48 GMT

    What a shame that De Villiers will only ever get to show his 'Len-Hutton-like' class in pool play... He should come join NZ, at least then he would be guaranteed to experience a semi final!

  • Nadeem on March 26, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    South Africa was unlucky today (wicket of Amala was awefull way of getting out) and Oram was difference, the catch he took of Kallis and then took 4 wickets is worth mentioning.

    The run out of Ab deviliers was perfect example of great fielding effort by NZ today, tight line and length and too good a fielding.

    Big upset but worth watching because of electric fielding of NZ. What a turn around.

  • Angus Hines on March 26, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    This article is all about how good de villiers is, while all but ignoring the fact that the much unfancied NZ produced a fantastic fielding and bowling display to win against one of the worlds best sides

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Angus Hines on March 26, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    This article is all about how good de villiers is, while all but ignoring the fact that the much unfancied NZ produced a fantastic fielding and bowling display to win against one of the worlds best sides

  • Nadeem on March 26, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    South Africa was unlucky today (wicket of Amala was awefull way of getting out) and Oram was difference, the catch he took of Kallis and then took 4 wickets is worth mentioning.

    The run out of Ab deviliers was perfect example of great fielding effort by NZ today, tight line and length and too good a fielding.

    Big upset but worth watching because of electric fielding of NZ. What a turn around.

  • Sammy from NZ on March 26, 2011, 4:48 GMT

    What a shame that De Villiers will only ever get to show his 'Len-Hutton-like' class in pool play... He should come join NZ, at least then he would be guaranteed to experience a semi final!

  • PJ on March 26, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    Your writing is so awesome i suspect you have electricity in your fingers. Lots of respect!

  • Christy on March 26, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    S A have gone from Chokers to Stroke-victims - mind numbing was the way the managed to embrace defeat while sitting on the to-be-Victors throne !!

  • Kevin on March 26, 2011, 5:13 GMT

    Its sad that nobody care enough to put comments on your blogs but me.

  • de villiers on March 26, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    Thanks Andy, great piece. I am a Saffa and can not begin to explain how glum this morning is.

    Good luck to your boys today, at least they have bottle.

  • Niranjan on March 26, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    This time, SA's choke actually made me feel a bit bad, but boy, you nailed this one with so much hilarity, especially the bit involving a french kiss, lol!

  • s.venkat on March 26, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    what a hype south africa did during the india-s.africa series. they deserve to choke throughout the history of cricket.please e-mail this article to g.smith the chokers captain.

  • Gaurang on March 26, 2011, 5:45 GMT

    HA HA...french kiss with crocodile :)