South Africa defied their “chokers” tag by defeating Afghanistan in the first semi-final of the T20 World Cup 2024. This victory marks the first time the Proteas have qualified for an ICC World Cup final, shedding a weighty label that has haunted them since their return to international cricket in 1992. But many young fans wonder why they are called “chokers,” here is how it all began.

The Origins of “Chokers” Tag

Despite producing legends such as Allan Donald, Lance Klusener, AB de Villiers, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, and Dale Steyn, the Proteas have frequently faltered at crucial moments. Their sole triumph was the 1998 Champions Trophy (called the ICC KnockOut Trophy back then).

This reputation as ‘chokers’ stems from multiple failures to cross the finish line, particularly in the knockout stages of global events. While some of these setbacks can be attributed to bad luck, many have resulted from their own mistakes. Here is a list of matches that contributed to South Africa’s ‘chokers’ tag:

1992 World Cup Semi-final: Rain and Misfortune

South Africa’s bad luck began in the 1992 World Cup semi-final. Chasing 253 in 45 overs against England, they needed 22 runs from the last 13 balls. However, a rain delay reduced their target to an impossible 22 off one ball, ending their campaign in a highly controversial manner.


1999 World Cup Semi-final: A Heartbreaking Tie

The 1999 semi-final against Australia is one of the most memorable ODIs ever. Chasing 214, South Africa needed just one run off four balls with one wicket in hand. A mix-up between Lance Klusener and Allan Donald resulted in a run-out with the scores tied, sending Australia to the final based on their superior performance in the group stage.

2003 World Cup: A Costly Miscalculation

In 2003, South Africa misread the Duckworth-Lewis calculations in their rain-affected match against Sri Lanka. Believing they had reached the winning score, Mark Boucher blocked the final ball before the rain resumed, leaving the scores tied and knocking South Africa out in the group stage.

2011 World Cup Quarter-final: A Sudden Collapse

In 2011, South Africa faced New Zealand in the quarter-final. Chasing 222, they were well-positioned at 121/3 before a sudden collapse saw them crumble to 172 all out, following a series of run-outs and pressure from the Kiwis.

2015 World Cup Semi-final: Elliott’s Last-Gasp Heroics

The 2015 semi-final against New Zealand saw South Africa post a formidable 281/5 in a rain-shortened match. Despite being in control with New Zealand at 149/4, a brilliant partnership between Grant Elliott and Corey Anderson turned the tide. With 12 to defend off the last over, Dale Steyn brought the equation to 5 off 2, however, Elliott hit a massive six to seal South Africa’s fate.

2023 World Cup Semi-final: Another Close Call

In the 2023 semi-final against Australia, South Africa struggled to 212 after a shaky start courtesy of David Miller’s gutsy century. Despite reducing Australia to 137/5, the Proteas couldn’t finish the job, with Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins guiding Australia to victory with an unbeaten 20-run stand.

Breaking the Curse

Fast forward to 2024, South Africa’s victory over Afghanistan signifies a new chapter. This win not only propels them to their first ICC World Cup final but also offers a chance to rewrite their legacy. The journey hasn’t been easy, but the Proteas have shown resilience and determination to overcome their past.

As South Africa prepares for the T20 World Cup final, fans hope this is just the beginning of a new era. With the “chokers” tag finally behind them, the Proteas are poised to take on the world and aim for T20 World Cup glory.

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