Cricket World Cup 2011

Majola: 'Chokers' tag to stay

2011-03-28 09:36
A despondent looking Corrie van Zyl. (AFP)

Johannesburg - Gerald Majola, the Cricket South Africa chief executive, has admitted the team will struggle to shed their chokers' tag after the collapse which cost them the World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand in Mirpur.

Video: Biff faces the music

Video: Faf gets a face full of Kiwis

"We've always had this chokers tag with us; unfortunately we've allowed it to stick. We haven't applied ourselves," he said in Colombo, where he will watch the semi-final between New Zealand and Sri Lanka on Tuesday. "We have to accept the problem and then deal with it."

South Africa left no stone unturned to address what Majola calls "the problem" before coming to this tournament.

They picked a varied and dynamic team, which they used creatively. They employed the same psychologist who worked with the national rugby team when they achieved World Cup glory in 2007.

With their new look, Majola said that he was "quietly confident that we would win the World Cup."

After their first six games, he was convinced: "When I looked at the draw, I thought we would play either India or Pakistan in the final. But we failed ourselves. The match was basically a replica of the England game. We needed calm heads."

Majola knows all about being calm under pressure in sport, having played so much of it himself. He contested many finals.

One of those was the SA Cup final, a rugby match, where Majola had to take the penalty kick that would force a draw. His side was down 3-0 and the kick was right in front of the posts. He missed.

"I remembered that final after the New Zealand game," he said, adding that the way he felt then was how Graeme Smith felt after South Africa's loss.

"I have known Graeme since he was 18 years old in 1998, when I was a selector, and I have never seen him so distraught."

Majola went into the dressing room after the loss and was confronted with a team that had "tears rolling" out of their eyes.

Although he is disappointed in them, he said he can't be angry because they are "taking ownership" of what happened.

Times like these usually call for a massive regime change and heads to roll, but in South Africa's case the change was always going to happen.

Corrie van Zyl and Smith both announced before the tournament that they would be stepping down from their positions as coach and captain respectively.

The process to appoint a new coach has already started, with applications closed.

"We have a shortlist of six names that we will announce after the tournament," Majola said.

The new coach will be appointed in June and the ODI captain will be decided in consultation with him.

van Zyl, who will return to his job as manager of the high performance programme, held a press conference in Johannesburg on Sunday, where he echoed what Majola said about the ghosts of the past catching up with them: "All the disappointments of the past World Cups have caught up with us," he said.

"That's where the pressure starts piling up. We must remember that most of the squad that played in this tournament weren't part of those campaigns, but we make them part of that by constantly reminding them of previous failures."

Although South Africa made concerted efforts to overcome pressure, when it was right in front of them, staring them in the eyes, they collapsed. "Pressure is a huge factor," van Zyl said.

"When you reach the knockout phase, there's the feeling that this is perhaps your last opportunity and you need to make it count. It plays on you and you need to keep your composure. We didn't do that and that was unfortunate."

He also dismissed all thoughts that the wrong selections were made, with critics saying that an experienced big hitter in the mould of Mark Boucher or Albie Morkel would have made a difference.

"I don't believe we needed anyone else but the 15 players we had. They were the right players for the conditions."


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk
Cricket World Cup 2011

The day Aussies went 'soft'?

2011-04-01 07:37

Newly appointed Michael Clarke seems to represent a seismic change to Australian cricket captaincy characteristics. Read More


Who would you like to see named as the next Proteas' coach?


Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.