Allan Donald got run-out in the famous tie between South Africa and Australia © Getty Images
Allan Donald got run-out in the famous tie between South Africa and Australia © Getty Images

 

By Faisal Caesar

 

South Africa yet again crumbled under pressure and continued live up to their unedifying image of chokers. It was a sorry sight to see one of the favourites collapse in such unspectacular fashion on Sunday on the world’s greatest stage.

 

The track aided the finger spinners and provided enough reverse swing for the faster men, but still a target of 171 in 50 overs was not a stiff ask for a side which is blessed with talent and experience. At 124 for three, South Africa were just 47 away from victory with seven wickets in hand. But by the time the score had reached 127, they had lost AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and Robin Petersen – four wickets gone for three runs!

 

Suddenly, the South Africans were under pressure from absolutely comfortable position. It was a repeat of what happened recently at Johannesburg where Munaf Patel was wagging his tail. Seven wickets South African wickets fell for 29 runs and they choked by two runs with eight overs left! On Sunday, seven South African wickets fell again for just 41 runs! No wonder it’s said that cricket is a game of uncertainties! With South Africa, one can never be sure!

 

Much diagnosis has been made; many explanations have been given for South Africa’s latest choke in a long saga. The exclusion of Mark Boucher has been talked about, the position from No six to No 8 has been advised to change a bit etc, etc. But Boucher was there in many of the infamous chokes and they had all-rounders coming in as late as No 9 in dramatic slumps. The problem before South Africa is much deeper. They suffer from panic attacks when the opposition subjects them to pressure.

 

They are masters in countering the turning ball and the reverse swing. But the problem has more to do with the mind than with playing skills. Its mind over matter, really, that is the root of their choking habit. Though, South Africa vehemently keeps denying that they choke, the fact is that their malady lies deep in their subconscious.

 

South Africa will continue to choke and worsen their problem with every new choke. The sooner than accept the problem, the better it is for their cricket. The South African need the help of a psychologist to help overcome their historical problem.

 

(Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession whose dream of becoming a cricketer remained a dream. But his passion is very much alive and he translates that passion in writing about the game)