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ICC World Cup: We have learnt our lessons, says Allan Donald

SA bowling coach Allan Donald itching to make amends for earlier World Cup exits ahead of today's quarter-final clash vs Sri Lanka at Sydney

Sydney: It was at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) 23 years ago that South Africa's return to international cricket and a possible Cinderella story was derailed by the rain rule. Allan Donald was in the dressing room looking on in dismay as the revised target of 22 runs in seven balls became a farcical 22 off one. This won't be the last time he would be at the receiving end of a cruel twist of fate in a World Cup semi-final.

Bowling coach Allan Donald at a training session in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on February 18, 2014. Pic/Getty Images
Bowling coach Allan Donald at a training session in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on February 18, 2014. Pic/Getty Images 

At today's South Africa vs Sri Lanka quarter-final clash of the 2015 ICC World Cup at the SCG, Donald will be now on the sidelines as their bowling coach, hoping his wards would take significant steps towards erasing the haunting memories from the 1999 World Cup semi-final at Edgbaston. Chasing Australia's 213, South Africa stumbled from position of strength to fritter away a golden opportunity to play in a World Cup final for the first time.

The pressure mounted, the Australians squeezed harder and Donald had a brain fade. With Man of the Tournament Lance Klusener calling for a tight run, Donald froze, the game was tied and South Africa were out. The memories would haunt Donald for a long time after the match was over. He believes that match "really changed (his) whole life around."

'Can't forget that'
Looking back on it, he said recently, "Who can ever forget that game? It's probably still running on YouTube. It was one of those days where pressure got the better of us and it was one of those shocking things that you don't to wish upon your worst enemy." A spot in the World Cup final was so close and yet, it turned out to be so far.

That was as close to a final that South Africa would get. They were knocked out of the 2003 World Cup that they hosted due to a misreading of the Duckworth-Lewis chart, outclassed by the Aussies, again in 2007 and collapsed under pressure, yet again, playing New Zealand in the 2011 quarter-final.

Donald still remembers the scenes from that fateful day in Birmingham. "You knew you were so close to getting in to the World Cup final. But I will never forget walking off the field and looking up and seeing a young South African holding her head in her hands and crying her eyes out," he reminisced.

'We all cried'
"Not only her, but also most of my teammates from that day were like that too." In every failure, there are significant teachings, and it was no different for Donald. "I think significant lessons were learnt from that match that day about being really responsible. I feel like now I can help people significantly through bad times like that. The biggest lesson I learnt from it was, well I suppose that was it, (to take up the responsibility for your actions)."

Not being able to cross the finish line that summer in England still bothers him."Not qualifying for the World Cup final is still what rankles me to this day. And it will, till South Africa win a World Cup," he said.

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