The Proteas played within themselves at the Champions Trophy, because they once again couldn’t handle the pressure.
South Africa went into this year’s Champions Trophy with confidence. They whitewashed Australia and Sri Lanka in ODI series at home and won a series in New Zealand, which saw them become the No 1-ranked side in the world.
Supporters and the media then referred to the Proteas as the best ODI side in the world, which was a mistake, because they weren’t.
They may have been ranked No 1 – and still are – but major tournaments have proven that they are No 2 or even No 3 in the group stages. When they get to the nitty gritty they are not a top-rated side; they have proven that they have difficulty winning major tournaments.
The guys play better when there’s nothing at stake. This was evident in the ODIs when the Proteas beat the Aussies convincingly at home; they were a completely different team. They were relaxed, confident and aggressive. They played Sri Lanka after that and beat them well too.
Why the turnaround? Why is there a different mental approach when there’s something at stake?
The side appeared to lack motivation, especially against Pakistan and India. They were not in the game at any stage. They seemed lack-lustre and there was no ‘Come on guys, let’s pull ourselves together’, which resulted in a flat occasion.
It’s easy to blame the coach, but I don’t think it’s a coaching thing. The players are under so much pressure, and they’ve been called chokers so many times, that it’s clearly affecting them. Ultimately, they were overly concerned with winning and they ended up playing within themselves, instead of playing a relaxed, positive game like they do normally.
If you lose and go down fighting then you can excuse it, but the side lacked the obsession to win in their final two Champions Trophy clashes.
Pakistan showed an amazing team spirit. In the match against South Africa at Edgbaston in Birmingham, you could swear they were playing a home game. They had the support, were motivated and were obsessed and hungry for a victory. The difference between our motivation and other sides in the tournament was extremely obvious. We looked lack-lustre and demotivated.
When they had to defend a small total against India, there was no energy in the field, it seemed like they didn’t have the motivation to win the game.
However, it’s not a crisis. The Proteas have lost some games. We must be mature about it, go back to the drawing board and figure out what the problem is.
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