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Match-fixing...


OK – just kidding with the headline. But you might wonder whether it entered the heads of the bookmakers when South Africa started the final 20 overs needing just 115 runs to win with nine wickets in hand.

To have come down to the last couple of overs with a handful of runs between the teams would have been acceptable, but to lose by 27 runs was flattering in the end.

The second Momentum one-day international should not be consigned to the shredder. As Faf du Plessis said afterwards, it was a chance for some new faces and new names to take centre stage. It was an opportunity they squandered.

Remember when you forgot your lines during a school play? Or had to read something at Assembly and could barely breath? It was ugly, but you got through. Or maybe you didn’t…? I have a friend in her 50s who never recovered from such ordeals. She wouldn’t even say “thank you” out loud when her company celebrated her 20th year as accounting officer. She was scarred and that was that.

Some of the Proteas team will be contemplating what happened in Kimberley. Some will brush it off, but they won’t do so forever. Some will genuinely analyse their actions and may not only recover, but will prosper.

It was just one match, for goodness sake. An arbitrary bilateral series against New Zealand. It’s gone now. Who will care in a few weeks' time? Correct. Not many. But for the players who made such poor decisions, who were sloppy, careless and perhaps even complacent – they will remember. And it is up to them to examine the reasons they made the decisions they did. For the sake of the team, for the supporters, and for themselves.

Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton are attempting to create a culture in which players can make sound, logical decisions under pressure. Kimberley might be a point at which they start again with fresh, uncomfortable evidence of what can happen when it all goes wrong and there is no logical decision-making taking place.

Five run-outs and other wickets given away when the match should have been all but won. Nonsense. Kirsten believes the ‘choker’ label is extremely unhelpful, if not entirely unwarranted. It wasn’t a ‘choke’ in Kimberley – not initially. The choke came when it was already too late. It was started by a series of terribly poor decisions taken at a time when South Africa were in control of the game. That is where the post-match analysis will focus.


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