They’ve tried ignoring it, they’ve tried shunning it, and now the Proteas are taking a whole new approach to wearing the ‘chokers’ tag they just can’t seem to shake: They’re going to try embracing it.
In another brutal chapter to a long-running story of South African teams at Cricket World Cup tournaments, the Proteas crashed out in the Super 12 stage of the T20 showpiece in Australia last week, again failing in their attempt to lift a maiden global title in any format.
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And though it’s obviously not something they want to carry – an ugly heirloom handed down by their predecessors who have repeatedly stumbled at crucial moments in World Cup matches – a crushing defeat to the Netherlands ensured the national men’s team extended one of the most disconcerting and lengthy droughts in South African sport.
No shying away
“As a group, we’ll have to accept that we’re going to carry that ‘chokers’ tag again, and I don’t think it’s something we need to shy away from. I don’t think it’s something we need to pour water over. It is what it is,” said Proteas captain Temba Bavuma.
“The way to overcome it is by seeing yourself in the final of an ICC event and winning that competition. I think that’s the only way… but for me as a leader it’s something I have to carry with this group of guys until we do something different.”
Cricket SA director of cricket Enoch Nkwe admitted the federation could not just ignore the core reason that fans had lost faith in the national side. They needed to step up and secure a trophy.
READ MORE: Cricket SA takes ‘full accountability’ for Proteas failure – Enoch Nkwe
He believed they had the ability, however, to overturn the Proteas’ troubled World Cup past, with another opportunity awaiting at the 50-over showpiece in India next year.
“It is a tag that we carry, but I have no doubt this group of cricketers moving forward, and the next generation, will make a difference and overcome these types of moments and situations and make sure they are always putting themselves in a position to win matches and World Cups,” Nkwe said.
“It’s important not to focus on the noises outside. We’ll go back, internally, and find the best strategies to help every single player moving forward.”