Euro 2020 Special

Top Five Times South Africa Fumbled On The Global Stage

South Africa are without doubt one of the finest teams in international cricket, often featuring at the top of the rankings across all formats of the game. The Proteas are a feared force both on home soil and on tours, and the quality of their pace attack is well admired by other teams. But the team also boasts the infamous moniker of being “chokers” in the sport, with their latest defeat to minnows the Netherlands once again leading to a slew of jokes on the internet.

Despite winning roughly sixty per cent of all their ODI and T20 fixtures, the Proteas fumble when it comes to the big games. Their only claim to global glory is the Champions Trophy victory in 1998. South Africa have failed to reach the finals of any ICC global event since then.

We take a look at five times South Africa lost their games at critical junctures during major ICC events:  


#5: 2011 ODI World Cup Quarterfinals

South Africa boasted some of the finest players among its ranks when they entered the 2011 ODI World Cup held in India. Featuring the likes of AB de Villiers, Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, the Proteas dominated Group B of the World Cup with five victories in six matches. What was supposed to be a relatively easy encounter against the Kiwis turned quickly into a disaster.

South Africa restricted New Zealand to 221 runs, with Morne Morkel and Date Steyn starring for the Proteas. Hashim Amla fell quickly during the chase, but the trio of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers put together stable partnerships to put South Africa on a winning course. But a horrible mix-up in the middle led to AB de Villiers’ dismissal, and the rest of South Africa’s innings collapsed quickly. They lost eight wickets for just 64 runs, losing the game by a significant margin.


#4: 2015 ODI World Cup Semifinals

Four years later, South Africa had to once again deal with the threat from New Zealand, only this time in the semifinals. The Duckworth-Lewis Method has been the bane of South Africa for decades and has once again impacted the Proteas during a crucial stage. AB de Villiers won the toss and opted to bat first, and gave his team a good start with a century partnership alongside Faf du Plessis. David Miller’s quick burst at the end took the Proteas to 281/5 in 43 overs as rain curtailed the length of the match.

New Zealand were set a revised target of 298 based on the D/L method, and at a point, it seemed like the Proteas would be through to their first finals in an ODI World Cup. But Grant Elliott, the South Africa-born New Zealand sensation led his side to a victory – scoring 84 runs from 53 balls. South Africa’s wait for revenge against New Zealand continues, and they will be eager to do so next year in the 2023 ODI World Cup in India.


#3: 2022 T20 World Cup Super 12 Stage

The latest entry in their long list of exits, the defeat to the Netherlands will sting for a long time back home for the Proteas. With five points from three games, a semifinal berth was almost guaranteed for Temba Bavuma’s men, with Pakistan praying for a miracle ahead of the game. But miracles are occurring with increased frequency in the shortest format of the game, and the Dutch produced just one at the right time.

Batting first, the Netherlands managed to stitch together a competitive total of 158/4, with Colin Ackermann and Stephan Myburgh starring for the Men in Orange. Chasing the total, South Africa were never really in control of the game, but never lost total control of the chase either. A lax approach to the game cost them dearly, as they managed to score just 145 runs in 20 overs. Credit must be given to the Dutch bowlers, with Fred Klaasen, Brandon Glover and Bas de Leede picking up wickets at regular intervals.

While all the previous exits have come at the hands of strong teams, the loss to a non-Test playing team like the Netherlands might lead to a deeper introspection in the Proteas camp.


#2: 1992 ODI World Cup Semifinals

The game that started their misery in international tournaments, the 1992 ODI World Cup semi-final against England is a game that every Proteas fan wishes to erase from memory.

England scored 252/6 batting first, with South Africa managing to bowl just 45 overs in the allotted time. This would later prove to be the biggest factor in ruining South Africa’s hopes. Chasing the total, the Proteas’ middle order put together steady partnerships to steer the total to 231/6 in 42.5 overs. South Africa needed just 22 runs off the last 13 balls before rain interrupted play.

But the scoreboard in the Sydney Cricket Ground stunned fans across the world, when the target for South Africa was revised to 22 runs off just one ball – an impossible task. England would go on to the final, where they lost to Pakistan. The rules for rain-impacted matches were considered a farce, and the D/L method was introduced to prevent similar occurrences in 1996.


#1: 1999 ODI World Cup Semifinals

The fixture between South Africa and Australia in the 1999 ODI World Cup is perhaps the most striking example of the Proteas fumbling on the crease. South Africa won the toss and elected to field. Australia could stitch together a total of 213 – a competitive total in a 50-over game before the advent of T20s. Shaun Pollock shone for the Proteas with a five-wicket haul.

South Africa began a steady chase but soon succumbed to the spin magic of Shane Warne. Jacques Kallis and Jonty Rhodes managed to steady the innings in the middle, and the Proteas required just nine runs to win in the final over with just one wicket in hand. Lance Kluesner struck the first two balls consecutively to the boundary, with the scores levelled and just one run required off the final four balls.

Then came the fumble. A miscommunication between Kluesner and Allan Donald led to a comic run-out, one of the rare instances of a diamond duck-out in cricket. South Africa could not believe their misfortune, and the game has since been considered one of the finest ODIs ever to be played in the history of the format. Australia would go on to qualify for the finals based on a previous win in the tournament against South Africa and would kickstart their golden age as they took home three consecutive World Cups.




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