South Africa 'amused' by lingering tag March 12, 2007

'We are not chokers' - Smith

Cricinfo staff

Graeme Smith believes South Africa have moved on from their disappointing World Cup exits in 1999 and 2003 © Getty Images

South Africa's tag as World Cup "chokers" continues to follow the team but Graeme Smith said they had moved on from past disappointments. Smith said there was no hangover from the 1999 dramas that resulted in Australia eliminating South Africa in a tied semi-final.

Herschelle Gibbs' famous dropped catch that allowed Steve Waugh to go on and make a matchwinning century in a Super Sixes game was followed four days later by the tie. The dramatic last-over run-out of Allan Donald, when South Africa needed only one run from three balls, knocked the team out of the World Cup.

Smith said the "choker" label given to South Africa by Waugh had become irrelevant. "The chokers tag is something we have always struggled to get rid of, which was given to us by an individual," Smith told Reuters.

"It is something this team has found quite amusing at times. A lot of those things are speculation and it [winning] comes down to the day.

"The team has performed well under pressure, won from tight situations from where no one gave us any hope. I'd say in our environment that word is quite a laughable word, except when you are eating spare ribs or something like that."

Four years after the 1999 disasters, South Africa rued another missed opportunity when they miscalculated a Duckworth-Lewis requirement and finished with a tie against Sri Lanka. Again, they were eliminated from the tournament.

Smith said the current line-up did not worry about their past record. "It is a team that is separated from a lot of other disappointments," he said. "We have moved away from that and learnt from a lot of those things.

"We have got the players, the environment, a great mixture. With that you need a bit of luck along the way." South Africa's World Cup campaign begins when they play Netherlands in St Kitts on Friday.