Wonkie is quite surprised that South Africa’s loss against New Zealand is being described as the great upset of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. While it may be unfair to label the Proteas as chokers, it is hard to label them as much else when they so consistently underperform when it counts the most.
This year’s South African defeat on the subcontinent, brings to the total five consecutive defeats in the knock-out stage of world cricket tournaments. The last was as recent as the semi-finals of the 2010 Twenty20 tournament when the promising SA cricket team choked.
As with dropped catches by a single fielder, each failure adds even more pressure to perform. This pressure, in turn, leads to an even greater likelihood of future failure. South Africans and other countries branding the Proteas as chokers will certainly not help their cause.
Perhaps the South African team needs more than just a cricket coach going forward. They need some serious life coaching to keep their confidence in check. Sarcasm aside, coping with big match pressure and performing optimally in stressful situations is what it takes for world class sporting professionals to succeed. Talent alone is simply not enough.
While it is not squarely Graeme Smith’s fault as captain, Wonkie is glad that he is stepping down. The Proteas need a fresh start and having a new coach and captain will certainly help in that regard. Hopefully the incoming coach replacing Corrie van Zyl, who is also stepping down after CWC2011, will address the psychological life coaching required to build a strong big-match mentality in each of the players.
In the meantime, Wonkie sympathises with South Africans who will now also have to survive the irritating torture of international commentators continuing to brand their national cricket team as chokers. The new coach and captain have their work cut out for them.