Proteas’ youthful optimism is the key remedy to ‘chokers’ tag

Published Jun 28, 2024


IF YOU dig deep into South Africa’s T20 World Cup campaign, you would find that one of the key reasons behind their progression past the semi-final for the first time yesterday, when they beat Afghanistan by nine wickets in Tarouba, is that some of the players have almost zero experience of the implosions of the past in World Cups.

At the age of 24, Marco Jansen, like most of the players that make up the playing XI, carries none of that baggage.

The whole ‘chokers’ label has almost zero meaning to Jansen.

This has undoubtedly played a hand in South Africa winning seven close encounters in a row without imploding in the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and US.

Jansen believes that his youthful optimism and confidence have rubbed onto the experienced heads in the Proteas squad, as has his refusal to buy into a label that Proteas teams of the past have been saddled with.

“I’m too young (to have experienced that). I don’t believe in that, which I think (makes me) very lucky and fortunate,” Jansen told the media yesterday.

“For the guys that have been playing for a long time to buy into that and change that narrative and that thinking when it comes to this team, I think is very good.

“In terms of that ‘chokers’ label, I’m glad that we changed that a little bit in this World Cup because in the games that we’ve played, not a lot of teams would have gone and got those wins. We did very well but now we’re focusing on the final.

“Going into this final, we’re very confident and we are just going to give it our best and whatever happens happens. We all know in the final anything can happen. We’re just going to go out and play our best game.”

A deeper dive into the team’s campaign reveals that the side has seen at least one department, be it the batting or bowling, carry the team over the line in all their fixtures except during yesterday’s semi-final victory where both departments came to the fore.

Jansen believes this has been the secret ingredient to their success all tournament.

“This World Cup we realised that in these types of wickets, which facet and skill will have a little bit of an upper hand,” he said.

“We, as a bowling unit, recognise that if the wicket is playing difficult then we know we have to be on our A-game and I think we’ve done that very well.”

Tomorrow’s final in Barbados will start at 4.30pm, SA time.

The Proteas’ flight from Trinidad to Barbados was delayed for four and half hours due to the closure of a runway at the Grantley Adams airport.

According to report on Cricinfo, the Proteas and their families, along with the commentators and ICC officials were stranded as the Trinidad airport.