We have our first finalist for the Champions Trophy 2013 & its England who also happen to be the host of this event. They defeated the mighty South Africans by a comfortable margin at The Oval. England won the match with 7 wickets in hand and 75 balls to spare. Err, did I just call the South African cricket team as “mighty”? Well in reality, they are, but I wonder what goes wrong with them in a crucial knock out match.
This was yet another Semi Final defeat for SA in a major ICC tournament, but I tell you what, South Africa haven’t choked this time. Their history might make people bring out the “chokers” word, but the manner in which SA has played today, I can tell you, this wasn’t a choke. We probably wouldn’t have called it a “choke” if any other team was defeated this way. A choke is when a team faces defeat from the winning position. Sad to say SA were no where in today’s game, not even close to winning, right from the beginning and right from the first over of the match. SA were so bad that they didn’t even give a fight, except for David Miller and Rory Kleinveldt.
They kept losing wickets at regular intervals and put up a very low total of 179 batting first. One can’t even think of defending 179 when your main bowlers are out of the match due to injury. Yes, I am talking about Dale Steyn & Morne Morkel, who are the best in the business right now in world cricket.
7 of South Africa’s batsmen got single digit scores of which 2 of them got a big fat zero. AB de Villiers, who happens to the most innovative player cricket has ever seen, got a duck. And by the way, this was AB’s first duck in six years. Only one question pops up in my mind right now. Why o why can’t South Africa perform well under pressure, even when you have a brilliant coach as Gary Kirsten. I guess they themselves won’t have an answer to this. If they had, they would have solved this long long back, a question that has been hunting them for much more than a decade for now.
Speaking of Gary Kirsten, the Champions Trophy was to be his last series with SA as their coach. He was India’s coach and under him we topped the rankings table in Test cricket. In Gary’s last series for India, we went on to win the World Cup after 28 years. He was carried on shoulders by Indian players at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. That was a perfect farewell for a legendary player and coach. I am quite sure, more than losing the match, South African players will be more hurt for the simple reason of not giving Gary a deserving farewell.
Here are some stats from Mohandas Menon‘s twitter account.
1. The last time SAf reached an ODI final: NatWest July 2003 (lost to Eng) & the last time they won a final: VB Series Feb 2002 #EngvSA #CT13
2. The only time South Africa reached the final of an ICC event was at Dhaka, 1-11-1998 in the ICC KnockOuts – beat WI by 4 wkts #CT13 #EngvSA
3. SAfrica’s last ODI title was the VB series in Feb02 beating the Kiwis. In Apr 2003 had shared the TVS Cup with India at Dhaka. #EngvSA #CT13
From my childhood, apart from India, South Africa has been the only country whom I love watching & it brings joy to me when they perform well. The kind of pride these players have, the kind of gentlemen feeling you get from these players, the kind of team spirit these players exhibit, you simply can’t stop admiring them. It definitely saddens me seeing my 2nd most favorite team perform this way. I wonder how the citizens of SA might be feeling right now or are they used to such shows?
South Africa are currently the number 1 team in Test cricket & going by their form in that format, its no doubt they will stay at the position for a long time to come but in ODI and T20 cricket, they still have miles and miles to go.
Image Source: ESPN Cricinfo