T20 World Cup: Why South Africa Are Called Chokers?
The definition of “Choke” in sports, as defined by dictionary.cambridge.org, is “to fail to do something at a time when it is urgent, usually because you suddenly lose confidence”.
So when this word started trending on social media on Sunday morning, one could have promptly assumed that South Africa have really messed up. And they did: in a game against the Netherlands where they were expected to thrash them and seal the semi-final place, South Africa lived to their tag of perennial chokers and choked, going down by 13 runs in Adelaide. Knocked Out. By Netherlands.
So when did the term “Choker” got labeled with the South African cricket team, and why it is attached to them?
The first instance of South Africa choking on a big occasion was in the 1999 World Cup semi-final against Australia. Chasing 214, South Africa lost wickets at regular intervals during their chase with Jacques Kallis and Jonty Rhodes scoring fighting 53 and 43, respectively. Lance Klusener then blasted 16-ball 31*.
South Africa needed 1 run to win off 3 balls with one wicket in hand. However, Allan Donald got run out and Australia proceeded to the final on the basis of earlier results in the Super Six stage.
And then began the procession of South Africa choking in ICC tournaments.
In the 2003 World Cup, hosts South Africa needed to beat Sri Lanka in the group game. The match ended in a tie after rain intervened and DLS was required. It was learned later on that the South African batters read the DLS sheet wrongly, and miscalculated their target.
The Proteas went down to New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final while chasing a modest target. The Kiwi spinners triggered a South African collapse and even AB de Villiers and Kallis couldn’t save them that day.
ABD, Faf du Plessis, de Kock, Sten, Morkel, Amla - all couldn’t save their side either in another massive South Africa choke against the same opposition, New Zealand, in the 2015 World Cup semi-final.
In T20 World Cups as well, South Africa, hosting the inaugural edition back in 2007, lost a must-win game to India despite India managing only a par total. India knocked South Africa out in the semi-final of the 2014 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.
South Africa failed to reach the 2021 T20 World Cup semi-final by the virtue of inferior NRR to England and Australia despite all three having the same number of points. And now, the latest addition to this list is the epic shock against the Netherlands in Adelaide.