Melbourne: The word 'chokers' just cannot be pulled apart from South Africa in World Cups. Four times in the past has the team lost in crucial World Cup encounters from winning positions (see box).

Dave Richardson
Dave Richardson 

Though yesterday's match against India may not necessarily be referred to as a choke, the dismal manner in which the South African batting surrendered chase India's 307-7 does suggest something similar — a suffocation, maybe?

However, International Cricket Council Chief Executive Officer and former South African wicketkeeper Dave Richardson disagrees with the chokers tag handed out to his compatriots.

Backed Proteas to win
Proudly proclaiming his support for his country, Richardson said that he was totally backing South Africa to win yesterday's match. "I know that my colleague N Srinivasan (ICC Chairman) is supporting India today, so I will balance that out by supporting South Africa.

Indian players celebrate the wicket of SA's Hashim Amla at the MCG yesterday. Pic:AP/PTI
Indian players celebrate the wicket of SA's Hashim Amla at the MCG yesterday. Pic:AP/PTI 

I think they will really do well against the Indians today," Richardson (55) told mid-day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground here during the innings break of the World Cup Group B match between India and South Africa yesterday.

Richardson, who played 42 Tests and 121 ODIs for SA, including the infamous 1992 rain rule affected World Cup semi-final against England, where the choking reference was first made to the South Africans, explained why he thought SA are no chokers.

"Though it doesn't really hurt me when people call South Africa chokers, I think choking is actually a misnomer and not just in context of South Africa but in relation to any other team too. I don't think South Africa have choked whenever they have lost big games. Instead, it is a plain and simple case of the opposition having played better on the day.

Balanced outfit
"Though I think this is one of the most open World Cups in some time, I believe that this South African team, under AB (de Villiers) is a good, well balanced outfit," added Richardson.

A couple of hours later, Richardson would have obviously pondered a bit more on the subject of choking after watching the poor second half show by AB de Villiers & Co, who went down to Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Men in Blue by an embarrassing 130-run margin.