The ‘chokers’ tag has been well associated with the South African cricket team with numerous people unable to decide which was created for the other.
Was the ‘chokers’ tag fashioned for the South African cricket team or was the South African cricket team born to explain the ‘chokers’ tag? Either way, they are seemingly made for each other.
There is no coincidence, however, as to the emergence of these two synonyms. In every major limited overs tournament since 1992, barring their ICC Champions Trophy victory in 1998, South Africa have underachieved with some of the most revered cricketers of their time.
Only in the Test arena has the team shown steady improvement, culminating in their number one crowning series triumph over England in August 2012.
For any team wishing to follow in South Africa’s footsteps, and I do not see why they would not want to, a simple recipe can be followed.
I believe there are two types of pressures facing any individual preparing for a task – one is controllable based on temperament and belief; one is uncontrollable and related to external factors. South African cricketers, apart from when they put on their Test shirts, have been unable to stay cool and calm in crunch moments that define the outcome of limited over cricket matches.
Pressure makes you do inexplicable things – cue Herschelle Gibbs ‘dropping the World Cup’ and the run out between Allan Donald and Lance Klusener both in the 1999 World Cup. These are just some examples of the overconfidence and poor batting required to bring the concoction to a simmer.
In recent years, T20 cricket has taken the world by storm. As much as it has increased popularity in the game, it has significantly changed the mind-set of young cricketers. Therefore, combining a drop of T20 thinking with a drizzle of inexperience creates an extravagant flambé – it is very nice to look at, but it masks the true nature of the dish.
Young cricketers, however much tipped for greatness, still need someone to guide them; someone who has been in their shoes before. This is especially true when they are ‘out of nick’.
In order to finish the potion, season it with a pinch of miscalculation. In all honesty, when Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis decided to construct the mathematical formulation used in weather interrupted limited over games, they probably had not planned for the likelihood that all cricketers will not undertake a degree in mathematics.
And there you have it, your complete choking recipe.
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