Ottis Gibson: Don’t ask Proteas about past World Cups
Just how should the Proteas deal with their chequered history at Cricket World Cups, and that dreaded ‘chokers’ tag?
Well, Gary Kirsten wanted his team to embrace it and talk about the heartbreak of 1992, 1999 and 2003.
There were more tears shed in 2015, when a former South African in Grant Elliott ended the Proteas’ hopes with a six to win the semi-final for New Zealand at Eden Park.
Will the ‘World Cup curse’ finally end in the UK this year? The entire Mzansi will be bringing the Protea Fire, but their heroes on the field will have to deal with the pressure from the opposition with bat and ball, as well as the weight of failed campaigns from the past.
The UK media are known for being a “12th man” for the England team when necessary, and the fact that they’re on home turf this time around – and facing South Africa in the World Cup opener on 30 May at The Oval – will ramp up the heat on Ottis Gibson’s team.
So, it was rather surprising that the West Indian has stated that in fact, his team will look to avoid talk about previous World Cup results…
When asked during a press conference on Tuesday about the 1999 Allan Donald-Lance Klusener run out and how the team would deal with being probed on it, Gibson retorted: “You mean the thing that you just brought up now?
“We haven’t spoken about that. From what I’ve seen, every year one of you (journalists) bring it up. And I was hoping that nobody was going to bring it up this year!
“We’ve had discussions around everything, and we’ve decided that we aren’t going to speak about it. So, when you ask about it, then… from me, it might be a ‘no comment’.
“We’ve always gone out and played, and one team has to win and one team has to lose. And then, it depends on how you guys write about the loss.
“Often, you write about the same thing every time we lose. When we win off the last ball, you don’t say anything about the opposition.
“But when we lose off the last ball, then it’s ‘that thing’. The decision from us is that we are not going to talk about that, so therefore, I would like that you don’t ask questions about that.
“There are seven or eight youngsters there that have never been in that situation before, so why ask them questions about that?”
But the reason why South African teams are still asked about close defeats is their poor historical record in the competition.
Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka have all won the event, while England and New Zealand have reached finals.
The Proteas’ best performances have been reaching the semi-finals in 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2015.
So, Gibson must know that the only way the questions about the past will stop is by getting over the line this time…