Former batsman Jonty Rhodes has insisted South Africa embrace the fact that they’ve lost four semi-finals in pursuit of this year’s World Cup title.
The Proteas have never won a World Cup – and have weathered semi-final exits to England in 1992, Australia in 1999 and 2007 and New Zealand in 2015.
‘If you’re denying it, if you can’t mention it because it’s going to make you choke, then you’ve lost before you’ve even started,’ The Hindu quoted Rhodes as saying.
‘Just embrace the fact that until South Africa wins a World Cup, everybody is going to call you that — chokers. Even back home in South Africa, people are saying, “Please don’t choke.” If you can’t handle that word, you shouldn’t be playing a World Cup, you really shouldn’t.’
South Africa were captained by AB de Villiers during the 2015 World Cup in Australasia, but he has since retired from international cricket and succeeded by current skipper Faf du Plessis.
‘They are flying to a World Cup totally under the radar. No-one is expecting them to win. So maybe for the first time, they don’t have that pressure of “let’s not choke”. There’s no advantage to not having a player like De Villiers, but it has taken the focus off South Africa,’ added Rhodes, who was part of the 1992 and 1996 World Cup squads.
‘Faf is the kind of player that likes to lead by example rather than from the front. Some captains do like to take it on and lead the charge. Faf tries to inspire the players around him. He knows he’s a limited player – he’s not an ABD – but he’s really gutsy and that inspires your teammates.’
England and South Africa will open the 2019 World Cup at The Oval in London on Thursday.
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