Why are South Africa called Chokers in Cricket

Why are South Africa called Chokers in Cricket

Why are South Africa called Chokers in Cricket

Cricket is a game of strategy, talent, and nerves. Even the most talented and experienced teams may stumble under pressure and lose games they could have won. Choking is a phenomenon that has been connected with one team more than any other: South Africa.

In this blog article, we investigate Why are South Africa called chokers in cricket and investigate the psychological, historical, and cultural aspects that have contributed to this perception.

Defining the Cricket Term “Chokers”

In cricket, the phrase “chokers” refers to a team that frequently underperforms or fails to handle pressure during vital parts of a match, particularly in high-stakes competitions such as the Cricket World Cup or the ICC Champions Trophy. The word ‘chokers’ was coined to describe them in 1999, after a heartbreaking semi-final loss to Australia. South Africa needed one run from three balls with one wicket in hand to win the game. However, Allan Donald was run out, and the match was tied. Australia advanced to the final due to their outstanding performance in the Super Six stage.

South Africa has been unable to shake the label of “chokers” since they have lost countless matches in ICC events that they could have won. Here are a few famous examples:

  1. South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2003 and needed to beat Sri Lanka in their last group game to advance to the Super Six stage. Because of the rain, the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method was employed to compute the modified target. South Africa misunderstood the DLS sheet and thought they needed 229 to win instead of 230. They scored 229 for six, but the game finished in a tie, eliminating them from the competition.
  2. South Africa faced New Zealand in the World Cup quarter-finals in 2011. They had won five of six games in their group and were considered favourites to win the match. They fell from 108 for two to 172 all out while chasing 222. Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum of New Zealand each got 3 wickets as South Africa lost by 49 runs.
  3. South Africa reached the World Cup semi-finals for the fourth time in 2015, this time against New Zealand. After weather forced the match to be trimmed to 43 overs, they achieved a daunting total of 281 for five in 43 overs. According to DLS, New Zealand needed 298 to win, and they did so with one ball to spare. In the final over, Grant Elliott smashed a six off Dale Steyn to seal the game for New Zealand and break South African hearts.
  4. Despite earning the same number of points as England and Australia in their group, South Africa failed to qualify for to the T20 World Cup semi-finals in 2021. They were penalised for their net run rate (NRR), which is determined by subtracting the average runs per over conceded from the average runs per over scored. South Africa had a lower NRR than England and Australia because they lost their first match by eight wickets to Australia and won their second match by only eight runs against the West Indies.
  5. South Africa was knocked out of the T20 World Cup in 2022 by the Netherlands, who were ranked ninth in the world. South Africa needed to win the game to advance to the semi-finals, and they were anticipated to achieve it with ease. However, they were unable to chase down 167 runs and lost by 13 runs. Ironically, the Netherlands had four South African-born players: Roelof van der Merwe, Ryan ten Doeschate, Colin Ackermann, and Brandon Glover.

These are some of the reasons Why are South Africa called chokers in cricket. They have a reputation for losing their cool when it matters the most. Since their re-entry into international cricket in 1991, they have not won an ICC title. They have also never reached a World Cup final in either format.


Choking, on the other hand, is not a natural attribute of any team or individual. It is a psychological phenomenon that, with adequate planning, communication, and execution, can be successfully conquered. South Africa has some of the top players in the world, and they have displayed flashes of brilliance and tenacity in numerous encounters. They simply need to find a better method to deal with pressure and perform.

I hope you liked our article on Why are South Africa called chokers in cricket. Follow 12cricket for more news and updates from the world of cricket.


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