This is a very debatable question, considering the fact that the proteas are a potent, well balanced unit this time round as well. So, why do they choke every time? Does it have something to do with the mind? Is the belief missing? Or are they the France football team of 2002, every time? Can they break the jinx like Spain did in the footballing world?
The saga started from the 1992 WC. Who can forget that epic? SA requiring 22 of 37, and the requiring the same number of runs of a solitary ball, post rain. Come 1999 WC, probably the biggest cricketing turnarounds, when Donald ran himself out haplessly with SA requiring a solitary run with four balls to spare. It is believed Hansie Cronje did not sleep for three months after that. So, it is a fact that SA are ‘official cricketing chokers’.
This time the only difference is, the players are young and are carrying no extra baggages from the past. This year, they have a batsman in AB DeVilliars, who is playing the best cricket of his life and Amla in top form. There is still a problem in their bowling I feel, with no regular bowler to fill in the fifth bowler’s quota. And as Andrew Symonds said, “I do not believe they will do everything right, they will surely choke for at least 30 minutes in a crunch match and allow the match to slip”.
This is highly expected from them. Even in your minds, we believe they will choke. To top things, playing the Kiwi’s in their own backyard, a team that thrives in those uncanny, funny cricketing conditions and this WC they have surely been the team to beat apart from Team India. Hence, SA have a lot to ponder upon and think about. We as viewers get the feeling that they are heavily reliant on their plan A and do not really have plan B, and this according to the purists has been their biggest pang.
Steyn and Morkel have not peaked; Tahir has been the silver lining in the bowling unit. It will be super exciting to watch SA avoiding the choke and also intriguing to see how the Kiwi’s intend to tighten the noose around the throat.