New Zealand were the ones who beat South Africa

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New Zealand celebrate winning the toss

Exceptional cricket. That is how you exploit a weakness.

At 108-2 chasing 222, South Africa seemed untroubled, but there was a spot on their face. It was very small, but it was there. With the dismissal of Jacques Kallis, they gave it a little bit of a scratch and took the top off it, drawing a faint speck of blood.

What New Zealand did then was magnificent. They sawed off Mount Everest, tipped it over, inserted the tip into that blemish and pushed. Bringing the field in, surrounding the South Africans, they pushed and they pushed and they pushed until that tiny break in the skin was a wound and then they pushed some more until South Africa split in two.

That is how you win big cricket matches. Full marks to New Zealand. References to South African mental frailty do them a grave disservice.


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  1. It’s too late. We can’t win. I’ve seen South Africa accused of choking for nearly losing the India match. No, really. For wobbling slightly while chasing down 296, that’s also choking.

    We’re stuck with it because it gives people who know nothing and don’t watch the matches the impression they know something.

  2. Best metaphor ever. It’s just so… true to experience. I think everyone can relate to those times in their life when they’ve tried to push a whole mountain into some acne.

  3. Fantastic. Someone gives Dan’s men their due.

    SA, on the other hand, would find it mildly troubling that it was Jacob Oram who did the sawing of peaks and inserting in acnes. Partly because everyone had assumed Jacob Oram had retired a couple of years ago.

  4. All NZ did was not screw up. There was nothing brilliant or especially match-winning; they just didn’t make any mistakes. It would not have been enough to win if SA hadn’t crumbled under the pressure.

    They did show the world how to field, and set fields, though. That was impressive.

  5. Come on KC, SA need to take a little credit for that result! Duminy scraped that zit with a screwdriver, and the AB run out was the cricket equivalent of digging that zit-hole with a large, pointy rock. If not a choke, it was at least a severe case of hiccups that SA couldn’t recover from.

  6. Well credit must be given to Dan’s team. They kept their bowling plan simple and held on to everything that came their way and their ground fielding – Wow!

    However, I don’t that would have won them the match, had SA not crumbled….

  7. The point is the way that New Zealand made South Africa crumble. It wasn’t just a passive thing.

    Cricketers talk about ‘building pressure’ so much we get numb to it, largely because they say it when it doesn’t apply. Here it DID apply.

    A team can deserve credit for wickets that weren’t taken with unplayable deliveries. The fielding, particularly from Martin Guptill, was absolutely top drawer.

    The stumps were under threat even when batsmen played good shots and so the South Africans saw danger everywhere, whether they missed, edged or middled the ball.

  8. I agree that too much is made of the choking thing. But in this case, SA totally, mind-freezingly choked. This was a low total on a placid, if slow pitch, against one of the most unthreatening attacks in the tournament. NZ applied what pressure they had the resources to, but SA’s response to the pressure is what makes this a choke. Duminy’s shot had the look of someone who’s mind was so cluttered they had no motor control over their limbs. AB’s runout was a terrible piece of judgment. At these two crucial moments there was a distinct ‘choke’ quality to their play. Would SA have lost like this out of a world cup? Probably not.

  9. Any skipper/bowler that brings the field up when not forced to by powerplays should just be given the frigging cup.

    Skippers treat attacking fields as if you will get the plague if you even think of them.

  10. I’m not sure how one would accuse South Africa of choking per se if one had watched the match. Really, perhaps the Duminy wicket is the only one which could really merit the tag among the batsmen, but even then, the Indian middle order have shown themselves capable of worse when not under much pressure in the game against South Africa. He hadn’t gotten in yet, in any case, which could explain things just as well as pressure. Just about every game features a misjudgment in running, of which the de Villiers one wasn’t even among the most egregious, and just happens to have been capitalized on.

    In fact, the South African middle order have shown themselves to be fairly frail in this World Cup before the knockout stages arrived, Graeme Smith has managed to get starts and then get out in just about every game, Kallis didn’t play a bad or nervous stroke, Amla was a victim of physics rather than psychology, and it’s not clear where choking comes into any of the specific events or turning points of the match, although it seems to have more or less become a clever slogan which makes people feel smart at this point (South Africa choke over successive generations because… they’re South Africans, I guess. Maybe Tahir should have been sent in up the order).

    It probably had more to do with the necessity of keeping the run rate up while staying in against an aggressive field. If South Africa were more calm, it would not have made striking the balance any easier once new batsmen were in due to dismissals which really had nothing to do with choking. They certainly have problems in batting, and should have made the target, but these are problems with not knowing how they should bat in these situations, and how to strike a balance between the run rate and wickets with the aggressive field (in fact, they haven’t quite been the only team to have done so, even in this World Cup), which must be addressed through thought, not simply mental frailty which is somehow inherent to people wearing green shirts.

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