April 3, 2011

The problem with South Africa

Kepler Wessels
There have been specific reasons why each of South Africa's World Cup campaigns was unsuccessful. Now all they can do is focus on moving on
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The shock waves are still running through South Africa and will continue to do so for a long while after the astonishing defeat of the national side by a spirited New Zealand. What hurts the most is that South African sporting teams and individuals have prided themselves on being physically strong and mentally tough. The unanswered question is, why does the cricket team not live up to this true South African sporting credo?

Much has been said and written in the last few days by many people, most of whom haven't walked the walk and therefore have little understanding of the complex mental problem that has besieged the South African cricket team since 1999.

South Africa's demise at World Cup events needs close scrutiny for an objective assessment. The World Cup of 1992 was a triumph for a country that came back to international competition after two decades in political isolation. Considering that there was hardly any international experience in that team, reaching the semi-final was a fine achievement. Had the Duckworth-Lewis system applied then, I am told South Africa would have won by three runs. I haven't checked because the image on the scoreboard of suddenly needing 22 runs off one delivery is still firmly implanted in my mind and too painful a memory to recall.

The 1996 campaign was derailed by a selection error. South Africa had arguably the best team in the competition. In a moment of selection madness the South African selectors left out Allan Donald for the crucial quarter-final against West Indies. What possessed them to do that, only they know. Suffice to say Brian Lara and his West Indian team could not believe their luck. Lara himself flourished and South Africa were defeated by a strong West Indian combination.

Like in 1996, the 1999 South team was arguably the strongest in the competition. They played well throughout the and got to the semi-final through a good team effort and the heroics of Lance Klusener. There were some strange tactical decisions in the lead-up to the much-publicised encounter against Australia. None more so than in that game when Daryll Cullinan was unnecessarily exposed to his nemesis, Shane Warne. The Herschelle Gibbs dropped catch against Australia in the previous game, with Steve Waugh the beneficiary, kept Australia in the tournament, and led to South Africa's infamous demise in the semi-final after a moment of blind panic from Klusener and Donald, who lost their composure when the match was won. This was when the term "choke" was conceived. There was an uneasy atmosphere in that South African team. Not surprisingly so, considering the fact that the match-fixing scandal broke soon after the event.

In 2003, South Africa were still reeling from the match-fixing saga. The tournament was always going to be a difficult tournament for them due to that fact. Having said that, the team management should have been more decisive in understanding and applying the rain rule. Even if South Africa had prevailed against Sri Lanka in that event it was unlikely that they would have won the World Cup.

The board will also hopefully find a captain who will be a quality individual and who will bring back the principle that playing for your country is the ultimate privilege and not a given right

Two-thousand seven promised much but ended in tears. During that tournament South Africa were dogged by controversy regarding team discipline and team harmony. Despite this they did well enough to make the semi-final. Unfortunately Australia won the mental battle even before the match began. The Aussies were uncharacteristically quiet during that event. Just before the semi-final clash against South Africa they started to make a few challenging statements. South Africa responded in kind and promised to take them on and dominate their key players like Glenn McGrath. There was always only going to be one winner when South Africa misread the conditions and went with a bold plan A instead of changing to a more conservative plan B when conditions differed from what they thought.

In 2011 it was nothing other than buckling under pressure. This time the scars of the past came to haunt South Africa more than at any other time. Call it what you will, South Africa's demise at World Cups has been multi-faceted, and not as simplistic as the c word.

Since Graeme Smith took over the reins, Cricket South Africa, and in particular CEO Gerald Majola, has been very supportive of the team. They gave the captain everything he wanted. Coaches have come and gone - most of whom went on to other successful coaching assignments. Selection panels followed the same path. The common denominator however remained. This unfortunately proved unsuccessful.

Smith has finally gone as well. Cricket South Africa will hopefully appoint a new coach with no allegiance to the current players. Someone who can stamp fresh authority on the team. The board will also, I hope, find a quality individual as captain, who will bring back the principle that playing for your country is the ultimate privilege and not a given right.

It is inevitable that the "choker" label will remain until South Africa win the World Cup. In the meanwhile the best solution from the players' point of view is to focus on getting better as far as technique, temperament and physical conditioning are concerned. Cricket South Africa will, no doubt, concentrate on finding the right people to take the team forward in an attempt to create a more professional and vibrant element that will enable the unquestionable talent that exists in the country to develop to its fullest.

There are many good young players coming through the system in this country who fit the bill in every respect. They deserve the right guidance and structure. I am sure Cricket South Africa will provide them with exactly that and give them the opportunity to develop into a World Cup-winning combination.

Kepler Wessels is a former South Africa captain

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hindh on April 6, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    SA play like headless chickens once they are in the knockouts. that is the reason they choke like that.they have learn to win a pressure situation only then they can dream of a world cup.

  • joshuahero_2010 on April 5, 2011, 11:47 GMT

    Let Kirsten come he has done it with India and will do it with us!

  • MrGarreth on April 5, 2011, 11:42 GMT

    @Naman Sharma look buddy youve missed my point. We have 4 batsmen who have been number 1 in the world in ODIs, the best pace pair around, a great spin trio and the greatest allrounder going. Im not trying to boast Im just giving the facts that I dont think can be ignored. I agree with you we have not played well but that is my point. We have not played to the abilities we have. And let me not allow you to forget that we were the one team who beat India and we should have beaten them more comfortably if it wernt for the problems that are now being addressed by the likes of Kepler. I gave credit to your precious India. I sincerely believed they deserved to win. It comes down to a lot more than just the individuals on the field and India did everything right that we couldnt. Without proper structure India wouldnt have won this tournament and dont take that as an insult because it is actually praise for the tremendous job Dhoni (whom a lot of you Indian fans wanted axed) and Kirsten did.

  • hansie_gill_ on April 5, 2011, 3:22 GMT

    Yes ! ONLY........and......ONLY KEPLER WESSELS .......... can save South African cricket .......... otherwise CHOCKERS will soon become JOKERS .....A stronge guy have to be called (founded ) As a coach WESSELS should select a new players and polish the talent like................ MILLER ,INGRAM ,ROSSOW, PARNEL TSOTSOBE ,D.JACOBS ,CJ.DEVILLIER ,ELGER,VANDIER...................... should be mixed with some senior players .and drop ,,,,,,,,,,,,,KALLIS ,SMITH ,BOTHA,plesis extra.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Or ...STEVE WAUGH should be pointed Coach and WESSELS be a Cheif selector.COME ON WESSELS>>>>>>>HELP THEM

  • cricmatters on April 4, 2011, 22:59 GMT

    The chokers tag is not justified as I rated the SA team ahead of India and Sri Lanka due to their overall balance. However they should have gone with more batters instead of packing their lower middle order with all-rounders. They needed some one like Albie Morkel to finish the games like Klusner did in earlier world cup games. They had one bad game and unfortunately for them it was a knock out game. India lost 9 wickets for 29 and lost the game to SA and could have easily been called chokers but it was only a group game and they survived. SA in the finals would have been a tougher challenge for India as they had the team to win the world cup (at least on paper).

  • on April 4, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    The tag "Chokers" is exactly what it is, a tag. The problem is that it cannot be shed so easily. Otherwise there is no problem in South African cricket except the selection committee. But I suspect, including Morkel or Boucher or anyone else would not have done them any good. When they started to fall apart, the tag began to play on their minds. For a long time India struggled with a tag of different kind. The "one man show" tag because of Sachin. It took a star like Ganguly to come and start making changes. A man with the audacity to challenge preconceived notions.

    SA cricket needs someone like that. Smith is no Ganguly. Of course Ganguly wasn't the only reason, there are always man different reasons. But nobody can deny Gangulys role in the development of that attitude in Indian cricket. Kapil did it last, then Ganguly and then Dhoni.

    SA needs to hunt that guy and fast. Nothing short of an awesome hero will do.

  • SundarAdiseshan on April 4, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    SA's chokers tag will not desert them unless there is a complete overhaul of their current system. Graeme Smith as a captain is not a leader by any stretch of the imagination and it seemed very evident that Cricket SA's honchos were just providing fodder to his autocratic ways.He himself does not merit a place in the side Player selections were made based on anything but merit. How could a natural one day player like Andy Morkel miss out alongwith Mark Boucher. You cannot expect to win a big event like the WC without a good WK and someone to turn things on in the middle order when the occasion demanded. SA selectors have no one to blame but themselves. Get rid of Smith, appoint Botha as captain for both the test and one day teams with AB as his deputy....SA cricket will see better days, I am sure.

  • on April 4, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    Last but one paragraph: SA have a bunch of talented players with the right technique and physical conditioning. Now all they need is somebody who can instill temperament.

  • on April 4, 2011, 14:27 GMT

    SA has the best team in the world! Really? In home conditions with a an India A team they barely won 3-2, please dont embarass me into reminding u that India opened with Patrhiv Patel! For those who remind us that India lost to SA in league stages please remember that barring the mad moment of 9 wkts for 21 India was looking at 370! I dont call any attack which was facing that score as world class or even world's best, BTW remember who got 200 against SA recently!

  • buzybee013 on April 4, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    This elaborate write-up only advances different reasons for the C factor! Whatever be the different reasons at the different World Cups, the fact is the S.Africa lost in the knock out stage. Their excellent preparation, physical fitness, fielding abilities, bowling attack etc gives them an unnecessary overconfidence at the crucial knock out stage. The media also usually projects them as the most balanced team. So when it matters they get shocked! C'mon Kepler, you know what it is! If the team comes down to earth they will win!

  • Hindh on April 6, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    SA play like headless chickens once they are in the knockouts. that is the reason they choke like that.they have learn to win a pressure situation only then they can dream of a world cup.

  • joshuahero_2010 on April 5, 2011, 11:47 GMT

    Let Kirsten come he has done it with India and will do it with us!

  • MrGarreth on April 5, 2011, 11:42 GMT

    @Naman Sharma look buddy youve missed my point. We have 4 batsmen who have been number 1 in the world in ODIs, the best pace pair around, a great spin trio and the greatest allrounder going. Im not trying to boast Im just giving the facts that I dont think can be ignored. I agree with you we have not played well but that is my point. We have not played to the abilities we have. And let me not allow you to forget that we were the one team who beat India and we should have beaten them more comfortably if it wernt for the problems that are now being addressed by the likes of Kepler. I gave credit to your precious India. I sincerely believed they deserved to win. It comes down to a lot more than just the individuals on the field and India did everything right that we couldnt. Without proper structure India wouldnt have won this tournament and dont take that as an insult because it is actually praise for the tremendous job Dhoni (whom a lot of you Indian fans wanted axed) and Kirsten did.

  • hansie_gill_ on April 5, 2011, 3:22 GMT

    Yes ! ONLY........and......ONLY KEPLER WESSELS .......... can save South African cricket .......... otherwise CHOCKERS will soon become JOKERS .....A stronge guy have to be called (founded ) As a coach WESSELS should select a new players and polish the talent like................ MILLER ,INGRAM ,ROSSOW, PARNEL TSOTSOBE ,D.JACOBS ,CJ.DEVILLIER ,ELGER,VANDIER...................... should be mixed with some senior players .and drop ,,,,,,,,,,,,,KALLIS ,SMITH ,BOTHA,plesis extra.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Or ...STEVE WAUGH should be pointed Coach and WESSELS be a Cheif selector.COME ON WESSELS>>>>>>>HELP THEM

  • cricmatters on April 4, 2011, 22:59 GMT

    The chokers tag is not justified as I rated the SA team ahead of India and Sri Lanka due to their overall balance. However they should have gone with more batters instead of packing their lower middle order with all-rounders. They needed some one like Albie Morkel to finish the games like Klusner did in earlier world cup games. They had one bad game and unfortunately for them it was a knock out game. India lost 9 wickets for 29 and lost the game to SA and could have easily been called chokers but it was only a group game and they survived. SA in the finals would have been a tougher challenge for India as they had the team to win the world cup (at least on paper).

  • on April 4, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    The tag "Chokers" is exactly what it is, a tag. The problem is that it cannot be shed so easily. Otherwise there is no problem in South African cricket except the selection committee. But I suspect, including Morkel or Boucher or anyone else would not have done them any good. When they started to fall apart, the tag began to play on their minds. For a long time India struggled with a tag of different kind. The "one man show" tag because of Sachin. It took a star like Ganguly to come and start making changes. A man with the audacity to challenge preconceived notions.

    SA cricket needs someone like that. Smith is no Ganguly. Of course Ganguly wasn't the only reason, there are always man different reasons. But nobody can deny Gangulys role in the development of that attitude in Indian cricket. Kapil did it last, then Ganguly and then Dhoni.

    SA needs to hunt that guy and fast. Nothing short of an awesome hero will do.

  • SundarAdiseshan on April 4, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    SA's chokers tag will not desert them unless there is a complete overhaul of their current system. Graeme Smith as a captain is not a leader by any stretch of the imagination and it seemed very evident that Cricket SA's honchos were just providing fodder to his autocratic ways.He himself does not merit a place in the side Player selections were made based on anything but merit. How could a natural one day player like Andy Morkel miss out alongwith Mark Boucher. You cannot expect to win a big event like the WC without a good WK and someone to turn things on in the middle order when the occasion demanded. SA selectors have no one to blame but themselves. Get rid of Smith, appoint Botha as captain for both the test and one day teams with AB as his deputy....SA cricket will see better days, I am sure.

  • on April 4, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    Last but one paragraph: SA have a bunch of talented players with the right technique and physical conditioning. Now all they need is somebody who can instill temperament.

  • on April 4, 2011, 14:27 GMT

    SA has the best team in the world! Really? In home conditions with a an India A team they barely won 3-2, please dont embarass me into reminding u that India opened with Patrhiv Patel! For those who remind us that India lost to SA in league stages please remember that barring the mad moment of 9 wkts for 21 India was looking at 370! I dont call any attack which was facing that score as world class or even world's best, BTW remember who got 200 against SA recently!

  • buzybee013 on April 4, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    This elaborate write-up only advances different reasons for the C factor! Whatever be the different reasons at the different World Cups, the fact is the S.Africa lost in the knock out stage. Their excellent preparation, physical fitness, fielding abilities, bowling attack etc gives them an unnecessary overconfidence at the crucial knock out stage. The media also usually projects them as the most balanced team. So when it matters they get shocked! C'mon Kepler, you know what it is! If the team comes down to earth they will win!

  • SA2015 on April 4, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    Bring in an outsider, who will demolish the culture of cliques Smith started. I say Jacques Rudolph.

  • SA2015 on April 4, 2011, 11:28 GMT

    Kepler, I agree totally with what you have been insinuating - our captain has such an aura of entitlement and indifference. Every player and coach who has stood up against him has been canned. In the meantime, he has been in shocking form, throwing away his wicket lots of times. No leadership from the front, no humility. Dhoni has shown the influence a captain can have over a side. Smith blames the middle order, when his average in the WC has been 23. And those people citing SA's wins under his captaincy - 60% of mathes. Honestly, with players like Steyn, AB and others occuping No1 batsman and bowler spots at a time, isn't 60% a large failure? We can do better than Smith

  • TingALing on April 4, 2011, 10:24 GMT

    Wow hst84, you have me really curious now. Please let us know what you referring to...

  • Beertjie on April 4, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    Yes it is complicated, Kepler, but @6orStix makes a nuimber of good points in his two sets of comments. Also, denial is the South African way. But to return to the issue of the bowlers. Historically, South Africa only had a surfeit of great batters during and in the few years just before isolation. Historically, we just don't pass muster (no triple centurion in tests!). Then given our knowledge of conditions, why don't we pick gritty fighters like you were and expect people like Duminy and Faf to do the trick. For all the comments on being a batter light, nothing was done before and during the tournament. In home conditions, it's a lot easier to get over the line, but we weren't playing at home! Given all the pre-emptive planning, psychological expertise, and thought, one would have expected better than one 'headless' approach followed by anotherthat has been so evidently demonstrated at successive World Cups. In future should we sacrifice a bit of cricket talent for mental toughness?

  • SSRajan on April 4, 2011, 7:26 GMT

    "Call it what you will, South Africa's demise at World Cups has been multi-faceted, and not as simplistic as the c word".. This is exactly the reason why SA never won a KO game. They just do not accept the reality, just as the above sentence shows. It is a choke. You can cover it in all kinds of semantics. But that is the reality. The day you accept that, you have gone a long way into addressing the problem.

  • hst84 on April 4, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    @devapriya: Sa maybe called chokers but the real chokers in the finals are newzealand. Playing 6 semifinals out of 10 and losing all 6. btw, congrats india won the competition of 2011 with strange coincidences in the semifinal and final. There are some real eye catching moments in it. Do see them again.

  • dr.jha on April 4, 2011, 4:34 GMT

    any cricket structure that looses out A MAN LIKE KEVIN PIETERSON needs to be looked into... you just can't make such errors... simple as that

  • on April 4, 2011, 3:59 GMT

    South Africa is to blame themselves for the situation they are in. I was a hard-core SA fan till I realized that a team cannot win based on the intensity of the fans love for the country and the game. They let the fans down ..bug time. How many times Smith has got out to Zaheer. If SA had to win the crucial matches, he has to stay and make the runs. Instead he got out to the same bowler again and again. SA are always a batsman short. Duminy is not the solution for crucial situations. He can bat but not the savior. AB has done well in his capacity. Bowlers are good and dependable. I dont see anything more from SA now. They just cant win in the Knock-Outs. Find people who are ready to sweat it out in the middle till they are over and finishing line. Anyone can make a quick 30-40 and get out expecting the next player to finish it off. Ultimately ... we get the KNOWN result. Have a pool of 20 players who can shed blood to secure a win. Expectations are straight. WIN..No more NO Less.....

  • AjaySridharan on April 4, 2011, 1:30 GMT

    As you think, so you become! I think SA is doing exactly what they shouldn't be, and what the rest of the competition wants them to - focus on the choker tag, instead of focusing on their games. You don't have anything to prove to the rest of the world, but to believe in yourselves and want to win the cup for yourselves. Let bygones be bygones. You need to find a way to laugh about the choker tag and move on, instead of obsessing over it. Maybe in jest, you need to get a t-shirt for all the players that says "Yes, we choke"! that might do the trick. Haven't you seen stand up comedians doing a self-deprecating joke at the start of the routine to just get over the butterflies in the stomach?

  • CandidIndian on April 3, 2011, 22:18 GMT

    Well there is no need of any kind of analysis actually.Saffas had very strong side with strong batting and best bowling pair in the world ,Steyn and Morkel and Steyn is unarguably the best bowler in the world right now.They had three good spinners too.Only weakness in their team was not so good middle order and unfortunately this so called small weakness cost them a very good chance of winning this cup.In subcontinent conditions you need couple of reliable batsman in middle order as its hard to face soft ball which reverses and spins .But still its hard to find any other word than "Choking" to describe their performance against NZ .Talent is nothing without temperament and self belief, and i think SA has immense talent and temperament , only thing missing was self belief .Its really sad to see that all modern day greats like Ponting ,Sachin ,Murali have world cup medals but Kallis missed out.

  • BlazingArrow89 on April 3, 2011, 21:42 GMT

    I am a HUGE Protea fan. I am just so sick of us collapsing in the knockout stages. We need a mentally strong coach and a mentally strong captain. I don't care if he is the worst cricketer in the world, someone just needs to be focused mentally to lead South Africa to an ELUSIVE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. We are good, but have to win a World Championship to be GREAT. I believe we can do it, but our mindset has to be right. In a knockout game, play naturally. I know it's hard, nerves and all that, but for heaven's sake...SUCK IT UP!!! You are International Cricketers for CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!

  • AKG0479 on April 3, 2011, 19:46 GMT

    talking about South Africans, if we analyse about English cricket team, they seems even bigger chokers.. they have played 9 WC, lost in 3 finals, dont know how many SF they lost... but WC is still far away from their reach !

  • Guruprasad.S on April 3, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    SA cricketers must be fed up of constant reminder by fans, media and ex-players that they are chokers. They must learn to now shut this out of their minds, and just play calmly (which is easier said than done). They must realize that there is no turning away from pressure situations in a CWC. Face pressure and come through it bravely, just as Dhoni and Gambhir did in the finals, even though India were in deep trouble early on. Till then, SA will remain good on paper, a well coached, well drilled, well organized team with talented players, but who cant handle pressure at the highest level. This time, poor team selection led to their demise. Going in with only 5 experienced batsmen was not wise at all. Faf is a brave guy, but what the hell were SA thinking about Botha ? SA's win over India led them to trust Botha's and Peterson's batting a bit too much. You need quality batsman at no. 7. I they appoint Botha as ODI captain, then SA can kiss goodbye to their CWC 2015 dreams.

  • henties on April 3, 2011, 18:54 GMT

    Also like to see Ray Jennings as coach. It is easy to critise from the boundary rope but would also like to see the captain and players to be more prepared to handle Big Match Temperament and to get over their mental fear of losing. We professionals in business or the private sector would be fired if we performed the way they performed.They certainly made sure that the definition of choke was not more clearly illustrated than their last performance.

  • on April 3, 2011, 18:23 GMT

    SA problem is psychological and not of cricketing skills. I lay the blame entirely on the Captain. Captains' motives in team selection and tactics during the game have a significant impact on how the team would perform. Smith's motives always is to protect his cronies in the team. Herschell Gibbs was always an unwelcome member of the playing 11. With Smith's departure, SA needs a captain who is objective and emotional. A captain who is realistic and passionate. A Captain who is a good performer with Bat and Ball. SA will need to find a captain other than KALLIS. He does not fit the mold. Dale Styvn, AB De-Villiers, JP Duminy, Hamish Amla are my choices in that order.

  • Devapriya on April 3, 2011, 18:23 GMT

    What an amazing statistic - SA have yet to win a knock-out game in the World Cup. Can you believe it? No wonder they are called chokers!

  • robza on April 3, 2011, 17:50 GMT

    @ MrGarreth, Ray Jennings as a coach seems almost the polar opposite of Gary Kirsten, who hasn't done too badly as coach of India. Ray was all about intense physical discipline, and his way or the highway, Gary is about seeing what the individual player needs to perform, and getting the best out of that player, not bullying them with the old school South African army-style approach. Jennings' coaching tenure was during South Africa's least successful period, with really odd selections. He is able to inspire some people, like Andre Nel, but I don't think it works for everyone.

  • on April 3, 2011, 17:28 GMT

    It is opener's job to finish games in small targets like Dilshan has done................Smith must have done it.........................Just sack him...he is useless and make AB Captain bring back Gibbs

  • V.Rajaa on April 3, 2011, 17:25 GMT

    @kepler,I wonder y didn't u put safferswere best teamin 87,83,79,75?To say ur team were best,u disregards,92 pak n nz,96 sl,aus,ind,99 Aus,pak,2011 sl,ind.period.If u say we beat ind in 2011,understand u did beaten by eng.if u say we beat ind in 96 in group match, then u wr beaten by zim in 99. Still, u wish to deicde who is better only by head to head..? Firsat saffers should their head while playing knockouts.One can't agree headless players as best in the world.

  • stormy16 on April 3, 2011, 17:02 GMT

    I think the first thing to realize this whole choker issue is its ONLY restricted to knock out ICC events which is not a reflection of SA's performance over the last few years which is easily the best in the world having won all over including Asia and Australia. I think the issue is the lack of exposure to multi-nation knock out tournaments which are played all over the world but SA dont seem to make them. CSA must organize a tri-nation in their summer each year to expose the team. I cant see how Smith or anyone else can be blamed - the guy has performed on all fronts over a number of years on all continents.

  • on April 3, 2011, 15:36 GMT

    Who's asking SA to win THE WC...?But cant they just win one damn KNOCK OUT match....? They choke,and that is bound to happen when you are bent on proving just one thing--V ARE NOT CHOKERS.Come on,ppl.Its not football where u keep preparing for the next WC.Just take one game at a time...Dont think about 2015...enjoy each & every game,thats it...!

  • WarVdm on April 3, 2011, 13:55 GMT

    @ Manoj Damani. 100%. Couldn't have said it better myself. Temperament and dealing with pressure is what makes you win World Cups.

  • on April 3, 2011, 13:24 GMT

    If it happens at one or two world cups then depending on the circumstances you could say it was bad luck, but when in every single tournament South Africa have found some way to lose be it through a batting collapse, a momentary player brain explosion, or some inexplicable miscalculation when chasing a total then you have to say that there is something inherently wrong. This 'chokers' tag will stay with SA for a long time and I suspect that even if they do win a WC it will take years of consistent performances especially at the pointy end of the competition for them to shake that reputation for choking.

  • IMObserver on April 3, 2011, 13:09 GMT

    Choke word is over simplification. South Africa should forget the past as sunk cost, and players should put the memories of the past out of their mind. This, of course, is easier said than done. Borris Spasky once said that he would like to forget all the games he played since they just clutter the mind. To do this what South Africa needs is one game they can hark back to. What transformed India is that test match in Kolkota against Australia in 2001. There too Tendulkar's contrubution was insignificant with the bat though his three wickets in second inning was crucial to the win. The fact that India won WC without Shewag and Tendulkar is a blessing for India. This would make another paradigm change in the minds of players yet to come. After 2001 they were equal of Australia in tests. Now they will be hard to beat in ODIs. I predict they are likely to win T20 WC next time.

  • on April 3, 2011, 12:11 GMT

    This ongoing common denominator much maligned by Kepler et al led South Africa to a series victory in England, something last done by SA since the sixties, and to a series victory in Australia, something no South African team has done.

  • analyseabhishek on April 3, 2011, 12:00 GMT

    Post the tight win over India, it seemed that the South Africans were finally learning closing things off. Unfortunately, it did not turn out that way. Perhaps they did not take NZL seriously enough.

  • on April 3, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    I don't understand this big crazy crazy world, but I do understand problem with Sud Africa. The problem is - They Choke! . The choke because they play game with power not mind. Everyone in this world knows that mind matters most in crucial situations. Mind is something which directs the power onto task at hand and RSA lose its mind when it is Crunch situation. Hope they change it otherwise ABD will be 35 without world cup like Kallis is. Thank god India won last night for Sachin... anyhoo good luck

  • MrGarreth on April 3, 2011, 11:24 GMT

    Ouch. Kepler has never liked Graeme. He is from a very old school mentality. Id like to see Ray Jennings as coach. When he caretaked for South Africa for a few months before Mickey, he revived the careers of Prince, Boucher and Ntini. Ntini's best ever figures of 13 wickets came after Ray Jennings gave it to him straight. he even admitted this in an interview. Boucher was brought back after he had been dropped and Ray was harsh with him but Boucher had the greatest period of his entire career after that. And he too credits Jennings. He does not care for personalities and gets the best out of individuals. If he could do that to Ntini and Boucher in the space of like 2 months imagine what he could do in 4 years. The truth is that although all us Saffers are sometimes too humble to admit it, we have (individually wise) the best team around. And it was a bitter pill to swallow watching India win the world cup. But they were far more headstrong and confident than us and therefore deserving

  • MukulC on April 3, 2011, 11:23 GMT

    chokers chokers chokers

  • anishkm on April 3, 2011, 11:01 GMT

    The problem for south Africa starts from their short batting line up..they lacked the service of a good all-rounder before the tail end starts. Albie Morkel was real missing in their lineup .. Sri Lanka used it well..

  • on April 3, 2011, 11:00 GMT

    What a bunch of crock, they choked plain and simple! Want a better analysis? Here you go: South Africa is a better team than India. Huh? But didnt India wint the world cup?? Yes they did but South Africa is still a better team. They have it all, good bowlers, tremendous captains, good fitness, enough stuff to fill a whole page. However what decides the world champions is when you can bring out your inner tiger. When you can rise to occasion. That decides the world champions. If there is a series of 5 matches, the South Africans can easily win it. However, if you went to present Indian team / old school Australian team and told them "I want you to win this match at any costs", they will do it. They will fight and fight and fight till they win. Period. And that is what decides who the champions are..teams that can rise to the occasion. There is a difference between having good team and winning games. Once SA realizes this, they will win as well. Till then, keep posting excuses...

  • 6orStix on April 3, 2011, 10:42 GMT

    An old big lesson for SA. It's the fight in the dog, not the size of the dog that brings results. In the QFs, the Kiwis outscrapped them. Plain and simple, SA batsmen did not fight for their wickets as if their very lives depended on them. That is the only way you win, when you scrap every, every ball, not philander with flash and bluster. it was not a chase requiring derring do and bravado, it was a grind, grind, day. A scrapper's day.

  • deepman on April 3, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    SA need a really good leader,somebody like Imran,Ranatunga,Steve Waugh ,Dhoni.He should be a master tactician , calm under pressure , aggressive at times and inspiring-somebody who should be able to get the best out of his players.Talent alone will not suffice.SA were certainly better than SriLanka in 2011 but .... They had a good spin attack this time,wonderful fast bowlers and a decent batting lineup.In my opinion they were the best team in the Cup apart from the Indians

    Batting will be the biggest worry for them in the coming days.They need to bat with purpose and Kallis will not be there forever.They need more Amlas. They also need to expose their players to different circumstances of the game.May be do it in their domestic cricket setup.

  • harshthakor on April 3, 2011, 10:02 GMT

    One of the most significant points is wheter the winner of the World Cup is the true World champion.In the history of the World Cup only West Indies and Australia have been the best teams to win the coveted title.India in 1983 were not better than West Indies,Australai in 1987 not better than Pakistan,Pakistan in 1992 not better than England etc.The World cup had been won on 6occassions by the team that has peaked at the right moment and posessed a match-winning killer instinct.

    Hanse Cronje's 1999 team was the best of all S.African teams and but for runout and tie in the 1999 semi-final would almost certainly have won the cup.

    In this edition South Africa had a brilliant attack but most of the batsman hardly were in form and relied heavily on Kallis and De Villiers.After No 6.There was no batting depth and it was a mistake to drop a batsman at 5 down in the semi-final against New Zealand.They also struggled on slow,turning surfaces.

  • harshthakor on April 3, 2011, 9:48 GMT

    The most important point is whether the World Cup is the true merit of the World championship.Apart from West Indies and Australia I would say that in no World Cup has the best team won the tournament.It was the team that peaked at the right time that clinched the cup.South Africa in Cronje's time won important tournaments but often lacked the punch to pull of big wins.

    In this cup S.Africa had a brilliant bowling attack but the batting was hardly in form apart from Kallis and Devilliers.I would never rate this team on par with the 1992,1996 and 1999 teams .Against New Zealand they simply lost the plot in going in for audacious strokes on a slow ,turning track.

    From 1996-1999 South Africa were the moral one day World Champions with their brilliant consistency but lacked the killer instinct of Pakistan and Australia at their peak.

  • on April 3, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    I would counter some of the views that say Sri Lanka was a better team than SA in 1996. Though the two teams did not play in the tournament, and Lankans remained unbeaten in the cup, SA were actually far more balanced and strong team. Lankan batting might have been a notch better and aggressive than that of SA, but SA's bowling and fielding at that time was unmatchable. Two teams had completely contrasting styles of playing. While every other team were not able to cope with Sri Lanka's ultra-aggressive batting style, I am sure South Africans would have adept at stopping the Lankan juggernaut at that time. As a matter of fact, SA were the only team that defeated Lanka in a bilateral series within the two years next to Lanka's 1996 cup win. Every other team was brutally dominated by Ranatunga's men, except for SA who were led by one of the best strategic ODI captains ever.

  • harshthakor on April 3, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    South Africa is the most unlucky team not to win the world Cup title.Arguably they were the best team in 1996 and 1999 before falling at the knockout stages.It was the same story in this edition of the World Cup.I agree they were hardly deserving of the title in 2003 or 2007 .

    What South Africa has consistently lacked is the match-winning killer instinct,professionalism and temperament.From 1996-2000 they won 75 percent of their games ,including finals and were comparable to Clive Lloyd's West Indian champions.No team had more batting depth or allrounders or won as consistently.However there was a trend to choke in finals after being virtually unbeaten in the tournament like the titan cup in India in 1996 and the tri-series in Australia in 1998. A team psychologist is required who can psyche the taem positively in the knock out stages.There was also too much dependence on Kallis and De Villiers this time and weakness in adapting to slow,turning pitches.

  • wonky on April 3, 2011, 8:56 GMT

    It's simple ... all fans knew there was trouble when the side was chosen. How could the selectors justify having Parnell there, with Kallis and his experienced we already had four seamers in the side for the sub continent. How could we have Morne Van wyk there when we had a gritty exoperienced Boucher in the wings ... this was a selection BLUNDER. These two spots should have been filled by out and out batsmen ... if not Bouch and Albie. Even when NZ were targeting our middle order (Vetori post match comments), C. Van Zyl (a stand in coach) coudn't have the foresight of propping up the batting with Ingram at 7, despite the Ireland game showing us we had had to do that. The 2011 campaign was a selection failure. We had 80 overs of bowling (Steyn, Morkel, Kallis, Botha, Peterson, Tahir, Faf, Duminy) and 20 overs of batting available (Amla and AB, the rest were out of form). Thanks SA selectors ... for taking a bowling side when the rest of the world know ... ITS A BATSMEN's GAME.

  • mogan707 on April 3, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    Yes it would be none other than Gary Kirsten,who could guide SA to a WC triumph.Now he has proved that he has capability to inspire players,he needs to find a new leader(definitely not Johan Botha),someone like Colin Ingram or David Jacobs must be a leader in the making or AB de Villers who is now a regular in SA.

  • kangarooo on April 3, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    1996 and 1999 SA teams were the best team of the tournament both times . in 1996 they had one of the best feilding side ever in the odi and in 1999 they had a lot of good allrounders with batting depth upto no:10 . But teams of 2003 and 2007 was never at it .both times they didnt feild their best XI for the tournament and clearly lacked the depth . The present team have 'choke' written all over them . not only at world cups but also the india and pakistan series before that showed they buckled even when they are cruising till then .remember rassaq and yusuf pathan innings .when they won they did it by big margins and lost all the close matches

  • 6orStix on April 3, 2011, 7:49 GMT

    I feel sorry for the bowlers in the 2011 squad. There were and are the best unit in the competition. They delivered 100%, 100% of the time. No questions asked. So when the choke brush gets waved around, I reckon they get a raw deal. Yet none journalist has even mentioned this. ... Amla, out to 222, or bad luck, Smith never got away, and played an arrogant, sloppy slap shot, Kallis got suckered, didn't hit it hard enough. AB, sorry pal, Faf faffed. Batsmen south of that choked. Heads up bowlers, you were amazing.

  • on April 3, 2011, 7:46 GMT

    It's time for Jacques Rudolph.

  • on April 3, 2011, 7:40 GMT

    I suppose you can put down 1992 and 2003 to some bad luck/bad run-in with rain rules. But in all the others you cannot deny the fact that they do buckle under pressure. It has been the biggest factor in SA crashing out. What surprises me though is that its been different teams, different set of players playing these tournaments and yet they respond similarly. Surely it cannot be a 'South african' thing because people are mentally strong there (theyve shown they're good enough to win in other sports like rugby). So then it has to be the fact that each subsequent team carries the mental burden of the chokers tag given to the previous teams. And ofcourse the media and everyone make sure they are reminded of it. But I do believe they are so good ability-wise that they will get plenty of opportunities to get over this mental hurdle, which they will eventually. I truly hope so, because they deserve it!

  • sweetspot on April 3, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    SA have too much going on in the head. They plan, calculate, train for, prepare for, imagine, strategize and try to out think the opposition, the conditions, strengths, weaknesses, liabilities, opportunities, and all that garbage instead of staying fresh in the mind and taking on the fun of playing high pressure situations. Other teams know they have to make just ONE of SA's plans flop to get into their heads and start unscrewing everything. I feel real bad for this, but just for an example, they can see how India did it this time with a less than perfect approach. They took all their weaknesses, backed all their strengths, soaked all the pressure, and still found time for enjoying themselves, even in tense situations. They looked like they loved the pressure. SA always look like they're ready to call an ambulance as soon as they get the first punch.

  • on April 3, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    SA arguably remain the "youngest" of the WC sides among major test playing nations, therefore strictly least "experienced" as far as performing on biggest stage goes. To make things worse their media(including commentator-turned ex-players), support staff etc. create a euphoria around the team each time they go to play a WC, Champions Trophy and T20 Championships. The results have been obvious. I have followed SA from day one of their international re-admission at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on the "eve" of WC 1992. As skilled, clinical and down-to-earth SA cricketers are, their team has remained largely "one-dimensional" over the years. They need to have more bilateral series with good teams such as SL, PAK, NZL, BAN; and not just IND/AUS/ENG. This will make them more adaptive and responsive to various situations. But, most of all, all forms of their media need to relinquish over-rating them and creating that euphoria around them!!

  • Poholiyadda on April 3, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    Sri Lanka had a much stronger team than South Africa in 1996 CWC. In 1999 Pakistan also had a strong team, although their batting collapsed in the final with Australia. In my opinion South Africa is an over rated cricket team. If you look at teams like Sri Lanka and New Zealand, they perform consistently well in World cups reaching finals and semi finals respectively in 2007 and 2011, but rated below the South Africans before the both tournaments.

  • Percy_Fender on April 3, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    I am a firm believer that South Africa is the best team in the World. But they do not seem to have the luck to win the crucial gemes. Maybe when Gary Kirsten takes over as coach, they should also have some motivators. I think they will win the next World Cup in Australia.

  • diehard-5 on April 3, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    This world cup thing is the most hyped and the most over rated tournament in cricket. I repeat performance in a single tournament can never be the criteria to adjudge a world champion in any sport let alone the one played in an inconsistent format every four years in cricket.

  • donda on April 3, 2011, 4:24 GMT

    I know what you are feeling mr. wassel , some times it takes years and years of temperament to win world cup. Take the example of Sachin Tendulkar, who's ODI experience is more than south African ODI history which started in 1991 and Sachin's started in 1989. It took Sachin to get WC in 21 years , then why no South Africa, they will get it one day. 20 years of exile and 20 more years without world cup , you need more patience and temperament my south African brother. Cricket is not that easy, it involves luck and luck favors the people who shows temperament and humbleness. Have fun, you gotta wait for 10 more years to win WC.

  • on April 3, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    Sri lanka had a better team than South Africa had in 1996. There is no doubt that they were the best team to play in 1999 and should have won that world cup.

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  • on April 3, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    Sri lanka had a better team than South Africa had in 1996. There is no doubt that they were the best team to play in 1999 and should have won that world cup.

  • donda on April 3, 2011, 4:24 GMT

    I know what you are feeling mr. wassel , some times it takes years and years of temperament to win world cup. Take the example of Sachin Tendulkar, who's ODI experience is more than south African ODI history which started in 1991 and Sachin's started in 1989. It took Sachin to get WC in 21 years , then why no South Africa, they will get it one day. 20 years of exile and 20 more years without world cup , you need more patience and temperament my south African brother. Cricket is not that easy, it involves luck and luck favors the people who shows temperament and humbleness. Have fun, you gotta wait for 10 more years to win WC.

  • diehard-5 on April 3, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    This world cup thing is the most hyped and the most over rated tournament in cricket. I repeat performance in a single tournament can never be the criteria to adjudge a world champion in any sport let alone the one played in an inconsistent format every four years in cricket.

  • Percy_Fender on April 3, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    I am a firm believer that South Africa is the best team in the World. But they do not seem to have the luck to win the crucial gemes. Maybe when Gary Kirsten takes over as coach, they should also have some motivators. I think they will win the next World Cup in Australia.

  • Poholiyadda on April 3, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    Sri Lanka had a much stronger team than South Africa in 1996 CWC. In 1999 Pakistan also had a strong team, although their batting collapsed in the final with Australia. In my opinion South Africa is an over rated cricket team. If you look at teams like Sri Lanka and New Zealand, they perform consistently well in World cups reaching finals and semi finals respectively in 2007 and 2011, but rated below the South Africans before the both tournaments.

  • on April 3, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    SA arguably remain the "youngest" of the WC sides among major test playing nations, therefore strictly least "experienced" as far as performing on biggest stage goes. To make things worse their media(including commentator-turned ex-players), support staff etc. create a euphoria around the team each time they go to play a WC, Champions Trophy and T20 Championships. The results have been obvious. I have followed SA from day one of their international re-admission at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on the "eve" of WC 1992. As skilled, clinical and down-to-earth SA cricketers are, their team has remained largely "one-dimensional" over the years. They need to have more bilateral series with good teams such as SL, PAK, NZL, BAN; and not just IND/AUS/ENG. This will make them more adaptive and responsive to various situations. But, most of all, all forms of their media need to relinquish over-rating them and creating that euphoria around them!!

  • sweetspot on April 3, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    SA have too much going on in the head. They plan, calculate, train for, prepare for, imagine, strategize and try to out think the opposition, the conditions, strengths, weaknesses, liabilities, opportunities, and all that garbage instead of staying fresh in the mind and taking on the fun of playing high pressure situations. Other teams know they have to make just ONE of SA's plans flop to get into their heads and start unscrewing everything. I feel real bad for this, but just for an example, they can see how India did it this time with a less than perfect approach. They took all their weaknesses, backed all their strengths, soaked all the pressure, and still found time for enjoying themselves, even in tense situations. They looked like they loved the pressure. SA always look like they're ready to call an ambulance as soon as they get the first punch.

  • on April 3, 2011, 7:40 GMT

    I suppose you can put down 1992 and 2003 to some bad luck/bad run-in with rain rules. But in all the others you cannot deny the fact that they do buckle under pressure. It has been the biggest factor in SA crashing out. What surprises me though is that its been different teams, different set of players playing these tournaments and yet they respond similarly. Surely it cannot be a 'South african' thing because people are mentally strong there (theyve shown they're good enough to win in other sports like rugby). So then it has to be the fact that each subsequent team carries the mental burden of the chokers tag given to the previous teams. And ofcourse the media and everyone make sure they are reminded of it. But I do believe they are so good ability-wise that they will get plenty of opportunities to get over this mental hurdle, which they will eventually. I truly hope so, because they deserve it!

  • on April 3, 2011, 7:46 GMT

    It's time for Jacques Rudolph.

  • 6orStix on April 3, 2011, 7:49 GMT

    I feel sorry for the bowlers in the 2011 squad. There were and are the best unit in the competition. They delivered 100%, 100% of the time. No questions asked. So when the choke brush gets waved around, I reckon they get a raw deal. Yet none journalist has even mentioned this. ... Amla, out to 222, or bad luck, Smith never got away, and played an arrogant, sloppy slap shot, Kallis got suckered, didn't hit it hard enough. AB, sorry pal, Faf faffed. Batsmen south of that choked. Heads up bowlers, you were amazing.