Bavuma: Proteas will carry ‘chokers’ tag until they lift WC trophy

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  • Post published:October 7, 2023

Proteas captain Temba Bavuma says South Africa’s reputation as being “chokers” will only be over once they win the Cricket World Cup trophy.

The weather and losing their cool at crucial times when victory was close have often been too much for the Proteas.

In 1992, they were given a new, mathematically impossible goal of 22 runs off of one ball to beat England in the semi-final.

Eleven years later, they got the rain rules wrong in a tie with Sri Lanka and were kicked out of their own tournament.

In their semi-final match against Australia at the 1999 event, they faked defeat when they were almost certain to win.

South Africa has been to eight World Cups since coming back from the wilderness of apartheid. They have made it to four semi-finals but never to the championship game.

“As a South African team, we know we’re going to have that chip on our block, or that narrative that we have to get over,” said Bavuma.

“That’s always going to be there until we win a trophy.”

Bavuma says he has used the word “choker” a few times.

This time, though, his team won’t have to worry about failing because seven of the 15-person Indian squad have never played in a World Cup before.

That number includes Bavuma, who is 33 years old.

“I think there are guys who believe that it applies to this team, there are guys who don’t believe that it applies to this team,” he said of the “chokers” tag.

“I think the belief amongst the team, that’s the most important bit I bring up to just make sure that we’re not kind of skirting around the issue.

“It’s that acceptance that it would always be there within the team, within this group, within guys who are to come. Hopefully they don’t have to experience that.”

The Proteas’ first World Cup game is on Saturday in New Delhi against Sri Lanka, who won the title in 1996. The game will be played at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, where Sri Lanka was bowled out for just 99 runs on their last visit in October.

Bavuma wasn’t able to go to the game because he was sick, but he said that the performance that day shows how difficult it is to play in India.

“With the World Cup and playing each team once, any team can win on the day, so if you’re not there on the day, you can get caught with your pants down,” he added.

Quinton de Kock, a famous batsman, has said that he will only play in Twenty20 franchise cricket for the rest of his career. This World Cup will be his last.

With 24 centuries, De Kock has scored more than 11,000 runs in 10 years for his country across all three formats.

“It’s becoming tougher and tougher for guys to overlook the opportunity of the lucrativeness of playing in franchise T20 leagues,” said Bavuma.

“But for me, it’s when you’re within the team and you have that opportunity to wear that patch, that you do it with honour, you do it with pride, and you don’t take anything for granted.”

Photo by Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix