Bowling coach Allan Donald has admitted that South Africa will not lose their “chokers” tag until they finally win a major tournament.
The Proteas are again one of the favourites to win the World Cup, but again any discussion about their prospects inevitably returns to their inability to win in the latter stages.
South Africa have never reached a World Cup final and have won just one match in the knockout stages since their famous exit to Australia in 1999.
“That tag will never go away,” said Donald, who was the man run out when the Proteas tied that Edgbaston semi-final to exit the tournament.
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“That will never go away until we win an ICC event. We’ve got to come out and prove it.”
South Africa open their campaign against Zimbabwe at Seddon Park in Hamilton in the early hours of tomorrow morning. The focus of attention leading up to the game has centred on the fitness of bowling spearhead Dale Steyn after he was rested for South Africa’s final warm-up match against New Zealand. Steyn joined a four-hour training session yesterday and Donald confirmed he would be fit to play.
“Everyone is fine,” he said. “We rested Dale in the previous match to make sure he is 110 per cent but everyone is fine.”
With a fully-fit squad, the Proteas’ have knuckled down in training after they were soundly beaten by the Kiwis in Christchurch to round out preparations.
Donald added: “We got on the bus in Christchurch after the New Zealand game, and AB [de Villiers] just said: ‘It’s time to lock in’. Everyone’s excited. Even arriving here for this training session, we know it’s right on the doorstep. We’re very eager to get on with it.”
South Africa have lost to Zimbabwe just twice in 37 one-day internationals, but their cross-border rivals proved they can upset the best when they beat Australia for the first time in 31 years last August.
South Africa saw the shock result first hand. They were the third team in the Harare tri-series and Zimbabwe completed their World Cup preparations with victory over Sri Lanka.
“This time, if we play positive cricket, if we put teams under pressure, that mentality of trying to bully the other team will go away by playing positive cricket,” skipper Elton Chigumbura said.
“This tournament we’re here to play positive cricket. You only get one chance to play against one team, so if you play your best cricket on the day, the team that plays the best cricket on the day will win the game. It’s all about putting on pressure, especially on those big teams.”