Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

OPINION: Win or lose, the Proteas are not chokers anymore

The 'chokers' tag has become such a cliche that it evokes sighs from players, coaches and members of the media.

No matter what happens in Barbados on Saturday, the Proteas team have done well to disconnect themselves from one of the ugliest words in South African sport: Chokers.

There are valid reasons that SA teams have carried this label with them over the last couple of decades, having repeatedly failed to secure a major global trophy.

Despite being firmly established as one of the best nations in the global game, a mix of bad luck and poor performances under pressure have stretched the longest drought in SA sport to more than 30 years, since the Proteas were readmitted to international sport in the early Nineties.

However, while they have deserved the tag, it has become such a cliche that it can evoke sighs from players, coaches and members of the media whenever it is uttered in a press conference.

And now, finally, it’s a word that we don’t have to use, at least not when we’re talking about the current crop of players.

Digging deep

At the ongoing T20 World Cup in the West Indies, they have not been phenomenal in terms of their performances. What they have done, however, is proved that they can dig deep and deliver in pressure moments.

Their first seven matches were all closely contested, and they emerged triumphant every time, going unbeaten to finish top of their pool in the group stages and the Super 8 round.

And in their semifinal against Afghanistan on Thursday, they took no chances against the former minnows, racing to a convincing nine-wicket victory.

Winning when it counts

In the final on Saturday, they face the best team in the world, and there is no doubt they have the ability to win again, though they are going to have to fire on all cylinders if they’re going to beat India.

However, even if they don’t lift the trophy, they’ve done enough to ensure that they won’t be called ‘chokers’ in the years to come.

They have the ability to deliver when it counts, and win hard-fought matches, and if that label is used again, it will be entirely unfair.

We can’t really blame them if they fall to the world’s No 1 side, who are four places above the Proteas in the T20 rankings, as long as they put up a fight. And based on what they’ve achieved so far, we have no reason to doubt them.

The Proteas don’t like the word ‘chokers’ and neither do I. I’m very glad we don’t have to use it anymore.

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