Tough to figure out the problem
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Proteas are a fantastic cricket side. One only has to look at the players in their ranks -- there are world-class performers and quality cricketers who probably would make it into any of the other countries’ teams in the world. However, it certainly does not guarantee success all the time.
Just thinking back to the ICC World Twenty20 tournament that has just been completed, it is difficult to fathom what happened and why things went from so good to terrible in the space of just a few days. All I can say is that the margins between success and failure are very small in sport and it is often pretty obvious to players where they went wrong in a particular situation but the decision made at the time, while it turned out unsuccessful, might well not necessarily have been wrong.
The word 'chokers' will inevitably be thrown around, but surely that does not suffice to explain the occurrences in Sri Lanka. The Proteas did not get into a scenario where they were on the verge of qualification, they did not win a match in the Super Eights stage and that is and should be a worry to the hierarchy and to the players as well. As good as the team looked in the group stages, when the conditions reverted to being typically sub-continental South Africa struggled to cope.
I do not think that the failure was so much to do with conditions as it was the inability to find that extra gear required to pull themselves out of trouble -- as was the case in England during the test match series in which the Proteas toppled the English from the top of the test match rankings. The question is, why could they not lift it another notch?
Fatigue has been given as a reason, with the Proteas having been on the road for three months. One cannot argue with that really, except they knew what the situation would be. I wonder if there is not a certain importance attached to test match cricket, being the purest form of the game and true test of a cricketer, that is perhaps subconsciously not given to the two limited-overs versions of the game?
It is just a thought and may be way off the mark
The other thought that popped into my mind is that winning an ICC trophy has become so important that leading up to one of these tournaments, the players put themselves under immense pressure and are virtually at tipping point by the time they get there.
It’s a tough situation really, but one that will only go to normal WHEN South Africa win one of those titles.