There is a C-word that comes to mind whenever major tournaments come around and Team South Africa show up. And that C-word should not be confused with that directed to MTV by Rihanna on her Twitter account.
South Africa have the chance to once and for all rid themselves of the “chokers” designation by seizing the important moments as they have failed to do in the past and finally win a world trophy.
They have flopped from winning positions at the World Cup before, they have flopped from certain victory at the Twenty20 World Tournament before, they have flopped from an unbeatable position at the Champions Trophy; will they flop again?
South Africa have the personnel to win this tournament. They possess, statistically, the best all-rounder since Sir Garfield Sobers in Jacques Kallis. There are indeed some in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town who would rate him better than the living Barbadian icon.
In Dale Steyn they possess the best fast bowler in world cricket, and matched with Morne Morkel, the best opening attack. AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla are two of the finest batsmen of this era and lead a support cast that have taken South Africa to the top rungs of the cricket rankings – all without winning a major trophy.
South Africa is perhaps one of the better balanced sides and with captain de Villiers behind the stumps, this gives them the luxury of playing an extra bowler or batsman depending on pitch conditions. But that C-word is never too far away.
Quizzed recently as to whether failure to win a major title was playing on the South African psyche, De Villiers responded: “I am going to be very honest with you. I am going to put it out there straight up front. We have choked in the past and we know about that – if that’s the word you are looking for. It is as simple as that. We have had some really bad experiences in the past but I would like to emphasise that it is past.
“We come in with a whole new look in this team. We have worked really hard with a whole new management team, who have given us a lot of energy and new ideas. We will approach this tournament differently and we would like to win the pressure situations. We are going out there to do exactly that.”
He will get the opportunity to rid his side of the tag very shortly.
South Africa have played 47 Twenty20 Internationals, winning 20, losing 16 and with one no result. Their only losing record is against India whom they have played on six occasions and lost four games while winning two.
Their leading batsman has been Graeme Smith with 982 runs but he is no longer in the line-up in this format. Johan Botha with 36 wickets in 34 matches at an economy rate of 6.24 has been the leading bowler.
The Proteas are in Zone C with Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka and play their first game on Thursday at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota. They will be seeking to return home next month heads held high and armed with the winners’ trophy, rather than be seen as disappointing Cs.
Tournament predictions – likely to make the quarter-finals but no further.
Squad: A B de Villiers (cpt), JP Duminy, Richard Levi, Jacques Kallis, Faf du Plessis, Justin Ontong, Robin Petersen, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, Johan Botha, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Albie Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Faarhan Behardien