The South Africans have pulled off another stunning failure in the cricket (the interview is a must-view). And I was hoping that this would be the year of the chokers. Not in the sense that the chokers would all choke again, but in the sense that they might finally win where they had failed so often before. So is the Saffa result a bad omen?
First let us walk through the Black Caps' performance thus far. It is still the cricket season. Just. They beat Canada, Kenya and Outer Mongolia easily, mopped up Pakistan in a rather luck-ridden encounter and get their sorry hides handed to them by Australia and the chuckers. And that is all good enough to earn them a date with the Springboks in a quarter final. Sounds a bit fishy to me!
So we bat first and get 221 very conservative runs. That sort of approach will not win us two more matches. Not bashing some sensible batting, which is what is mostly required, but in order to defeat England and India we're going to need to apply some pressure. You do not apply pressure without application of your full gamut of possessed capabilities. Sure, we can field like demons, but our bowling does not instill fear and you need two out of three. So we gotta lay the conservative platform and we gotta lay into the death bowling both!
I doubt they can manage it, but we'll see.
So then the .. what are they called? Proteas? The South African cricket team implodes. Just as they have in so many knock-out cricket matches over the last few decades. Sound familiar? The All Blacks won the 1987 World Cup. We were the best rugby nation in the world! Since then we have gone through a lot of ups and downs. And the downs have seemed to come in four yearly cycles. 1990 and the Aussies beat us for the first time in living memory in the third test. The next year they beat us again in a semi final. Is it fair to call that a choke?
In 1995 Jonah stomps on Catt, Ellis stomps on Japan and Christian Cullen was denied a place in favour of Glen Osborne. Nelson Mandela beats us. Is it fair to call that a choke? Who can beat Nelson?
In 1998 the All Blacks forgot that in order to win you have to score more points than the opposition. It was a huge relief when they finally figured that out and beat Scotland or someone. Tana had hands like feet and we went down to France the next year. Is it fair to call that a choke? We stank!
2003 and Carlos threw an inch perfect pass to some Australian and they won. Can we call that a choke? I guess we can. We were scared of losing.
2007 we should have choked in the final. Instead we got sawn off from our rightful place by a combination of two teams, a spate of injuries and a conspiracy of incompetence that saw a 14 year old with a whistle in a match against France! Did we choke? Not really. We were denied that honour.
One choke out of five. Does that make us chokers? I say, "Yes!" Why do I say, "Yes"? Because it is not the facts of history that matter, it's what you do with the here and now. Last night we could have seen AB de Villiers (nice name) refuse a suicidal single and impassively steer his side to a comfortable win. We could have seen Botha (nice name) bat boringly for five overs and then flay Woodcock (nice name) to all parts to coast to victory. Heck, Faffie du Pleissis (no comment) could have done the same thing with Steyn and seen them to a thrilling win. Instead something got to them. And it most certainly had very little to do with the quality of the opposition.
So is the cricket choke an omen for this year's World Cup?
No. Superstition is for the addle-minded. But, unfortunately, a lot of people are addle-minded. What it will come down to is a team not only dressed for the occasion and able to say the right things, but one that delivers on the day.