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).
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
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.
"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.
1992 World Cup semi-final vs England, Sydney
This may not have exactly been a choke, but rather a case of cruel destiny. But it's the place where it all started for South Africa. Chasing 253 and needing 22 from 13 balls, the heavens opened and under the controversial rain rule, leaving the Proteas an impossible task of 22 to win from one ball.
JP Duminy after SA's defeat
1999 World Cup, semi-final v Australia, Edgbaston
SOUTH Africa needed just nine runs off the final over with one wicket in hand. Lance Klusener hammered the first two balls to the boundary. Now, with only one to get off four, a horrible mix-up saw No 11 Allan Donald run out, and the Proteas failed to make the final.
2003 World Cup, group match v Sri Lanka, Durban
In this rain-hit game, Mark Boucher calmly block out what was eventually the final ball thinking that the hosts were ahead on the Duckworth/Lewis calculation. Instead, the teams ended up being tied as the Proteas dressing room had made a mess of their math.
2011 World Cup, quarter-final v New Zealand, Dhaka
Cruising at 108 for two and needing only 222 to win, the Proteas dramatically lost eight wickets for just 64 and ended up losing by 49 runs.