Natural Chokers of World Cricket

Cricket’s popularity is growing day by day. More and more countries are adopting this game and have started playing this at professional level. Global followership has seen remarkable upward trends. Still generations after generations, some teams has developed a choker tag to crumble before big matches in global events which is yet to be changed. There are three test playing nations who have been traditionally a force to reckon with but have always crumbled at big moments.

South Africa being the leader followed by England and New Zealand who has developed a nagging of failing at crunch situations in big matches in global events like ICC events. New Zealand was fortunate enough to get rid of this tag once by the legend of Chris Crains otherwise they have regularly faltered at big matches even though strength of their team is not less than any in the professional circle. England has more or less similar history as the country has played almost all ICC events, appeared in many finals but is yet to win one despite being very strong at times apart from the heroics of Paul Collingwood’s team. But when choking is concerned, South Africans are undisputed numero uno. They are top ranked team in the ICC cricket ranking yet they played like a club team in crucial matches. Their cricketing history dates back to more than one hundred and twenty five years old yet their traditional mindset and history has not changed. Since their reinstated as a test playing nation in 1991, they have either innovated different methodology to loose of sometimes luck has been unfavorable but they have failed to change the fortune although they have been a threatening team for every playing arena. They have played four semifinals but yet to reach final in world cup. They have highest number of winning percentage but they are yet to progress to the final of any ICC events. They were favorites but were eliminated by one run. They were ranked number one and yet they failed. Whether it is ICC world cup or ICC Champions Trophy or ICC World Twenty20, they are yet to mark their presence felt. They seems to freeze in important ICC contests.

South Africa has been historically a very strong cricket playing nations and trend setters in many areas whether it is the great Jonty Rodes who redefined fielding in cricket or the mighty Fanie De Villiers who showed the world how to ball slower balls in limited over world cricket and choke a batsman to commit suicide on the field or the legendary and controversial Hansie Cronje who was simply undefeatable and was considered as the man with Midas Touch on the field in world cricket and many more but their record of failing to win major tournaments has maligned their greatness. In 1992 Cricket world cup, they were unfortunate to be given one ball to score twenty two runs although they were cruising to easy victory but sudden interruption due to rain and thanks to the introduction of Duckworth Lewis rain rule which is still a mystery to be solved. It was definitely not a choke but unfortunate of their part. In the 1996 World Cup quarter final match verses West Indies, coming to the match by winning significantly all group matches, they failed to reach the target, which looked so manageable even though the heroics of Brian Lara, by sudden batting collapse. Who can forget their match in 1999 World Cup verses Australia when needing just one run from four balls to seal a place in the final, Allan Donad was run out through horrific mix-up with Lance Klusener who till then played like possessed. In 2002 ICC Champions Trophy semi final match verses India, needing just 262 and at one stage they were comfortably placed at 192/1 collapsed to find themselves 10 runs short. In 2003 World Cup against Sri Lanka, they miscalculated the mysterious Duckworth Lewis calculation and passed the wrong information to their man on strike Mark Boucher which led to their exit due to rain interruption from the competition. In 2006 ICC Champions Trophy semi final verses West Indies they set a target of 259 runs which looked defendable but their technical blunder of going with all pace attack against Chris Gayle proved fatal. In 2007 World Cup semi final verses Australia, their batting collapse set a target of mere 149 for the mighty batting line up which was anyway never going to pose any threat to them. In 2011 World Cup quarter final verses New Zealand, they innovated a better way of batting collapse of eight wickets for the loss of 64 runs from 108 for the loss of two wickets failing to reach a mere target of 222. In 2015 World cup semifinal match verses New Zealand, they set still target for their opponent but a mix-up and eventually the drop of catch by Farhaan Behardien and J P Duminy opened their exit from the tournament. When South Africa lost to India on Sunday i.e. 11th June 2017, they cemented their reputation for ‘choking’ in ICC tournaments. In what turned out to be a knockout match to reach semifinal, they were batting first and were going on nicely against India before a sudden mix-up between A B de Villiers and Faf du Plessis at the crease and thereby run out of the former led to a sudden batting collapse which looked so promising otherwise and finally folding at mere 191 runs in this Twenty20 era which proved to be a cakewalk for the mighty Indian batting line which boosted of centurions at number ten. A combination of failure and unfortunate circumstances forced them the choker tag in world cricket.

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