Whilst credit should go to New Zealand for ruthlessly exposing the mental fragility and brittleness of the opposition, this had to be the worst choke of all in a World Cup history littered with chokes for South Africa.
To put it bluntly, South Africa couldn’t have self-asphyxiated any better if they had all been wearing suspenders, put oranges in their mouths and tied a belt around their throats.
South Africa has still to win a knockout match in the World Cup.
In 1992, they were plain unlucky.
In 1996 they won their group and were then stunned by the fourth placed team from the other group in the quarter final (sounds familiar?). But in their defence, it took a hundred by Brian Lara at the peak of his powers to defeat them.
Three years later they had two chances to extinguish Australia. Herschelle Gibb’s infamous drop and a superlative hundred from Steve Waugh in the first game and keystone cops running between the wickets by Allan Donald and Lance Klusener in the semi-final saw the Proteas splutter once again.
When they hosted the tournament in 2003, South Africa exited at the group stages after fatally misunderstanding Duckworth Lewis.
And then in 2007, it was old nemesis Australia again in the semi-final and a right royal thrashing.
But even with that chequered history, Friday was something special.
South Africa were on easy street at 108/2 with only 114 needed from 26 overs.
They faced a New Zealand attack of Nathan McCullum, Daniel Vettori, Jacob Oram and Tim Southee; which with all deference to Vettori is hardly the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Even when Jacques Kallis was out, South Africa should have eased to victory.
But they didn’t.
What unfurled can only be described as mental disintegration. How else can you explain the run out of AB De Villiers?
And that is why the South African cricket team will continue to be tagged as chokers.
Sounds fair enough to us.
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