Cow Corner

Are South Africa cricket’s chief chokers?

Cow Corner

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Well, few people saw that coming. After England were skittled out for a meagre 171 it seemed all that would follow would be a solemn atmosphere at Timmy Bresnan's daily curry night out in Chennai.

But a combination of an inspired, gutsy and spirited bowling display from England on a tired, turgid wicket, and an unexpected capitulation of biblical standards from South Africa saw Andrew Strauss's side claim a thrilling six-run victory.

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What do we make of the way South Africa collapsed from 124 for three to 165 all out...

Are the Proteas the nerviest side in world cricket?

Do they always buckle under pressure at major tournaments?

Or were England simply ruthless, clinical and entirely efficient with the ball?

One thing is for sure, the way South Africa responded to the pressure of chasing down a pretty paltry total against a bowling attack which has been roundly derided all tournament was astonishingly flaky.

It would be overly simplistic to jump on the 'South Africa are the kings of the World Cup choke' line, but the onus is simply on Graeme Smith and his men to disprove that theory once and for all.

Everyone remembers South Africa incredibly contriving to squander a winning position in their 1999 World Cup semi-final against Australia when Allan Donald decided he could run better between the wickets without his bat in hand.

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Equally, Shaun Pollock's side in 2003 found it impossible to cope with the pressure of being the host nation of the tournament as they were trumped by both Kenya and New Zealand in the Pool B standings and failed to emerge from the group stage.

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Until the Proteas have won a World Cup or consolidated top spot on a consistent basis in the Test rankings, are people not entitled to suggest that their mentality may not be entirely what it should be?

Of course, while it will have been a hugely deflating defeat to England after having been in such a commanding position of ascendancy for much of the game, South Africa can still win the World Cup this time around.

If the pressure is off and Robin Peterson and Imran Tahir continue to thrive with the ball with the former taking the new ball, who is to count against the Proteas confounding their critics?

Do you think South Africa are the most nervy side in world cricket and do you think they lack the bottle to win a major tournament? Post your views below...

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Yes, there was a tremendous atmosphere in Chennai, and it was largely thanks to this admirably fervent and buoyant bunch. Where's Wally, incidentally?

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Luke Wright is talented at many things, whipping up freshly chilled isotonics, coming on as an ebullient sub fielder and sticking his bum out in his delivery stride, but his ingenious idea of shielding Matty Prior's bald head with this umbrella stolen from a local picnic site kind of backfired.

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Bresnan was not hugely enamoured with Graeme Swann jumping on him and screaming 'pile on!' as he collected this steepling catch. Not only was he under pressure to snaffle the ball, but he had just drilled a hat-trick of pork pies out at deep midwicket.

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There was one man who stood out for Cowers today, and it was not the highly-charged Stuart Broad or highly-effective Graeme Swann, but an 18-year-old spinner who continues to amaze.

George Dockrell came on first change to bowl to Sachin Tendulkar in front of a packed crowd in Bangalore all baying for his blood in the form of runs being plundered from their hero.

The slow left-arm tweaker not only held his nerve and composure with staggering ease, but even proceeded to claim the prized scalp of the Little Master, beating the India genius with his guile and change of flight.

What is more, Dockrell had not even been born when Tendulkar made his debut in pyjama cricket back in 1992.

The inevitable football transfer-style stories are already flying about suggesting that England are poised to lure the teenager into a county deal reliant upon him seeking qualification for the international set up, but that would be a sad situation.

By all means, Dockrell could not be blamed for wishing to ply his trade at Test match level in the future, a la Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan, but such a prodigious talent should be allowed to blossom for Ireland as he learns his art.

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SHOT OF THE DAY: Ireland were keeping the
Bangalore crowd quiet (well, in relative terms) until Yusuf Pathan strode
purposefully to the wicket in the 41st over and promptly plundered two epic
sixes, the second of which almost broke a giant hoarding in the second tier of
the stand over cow corner.

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STAT OF THE DAY: South Africa
lost their final seven wickets for just 39 runs - now if that is not an epic
capitulation then what is?

TWEET OF THE DAY: "Not what we were hoping
for, but like Dale Steyn said, the best is yet to come!!! Well fought men. We'll be back!"
(An incredibly bullish AB de Villiers
declares does his best Mel Gibson impersonation and neatly covers over his
side's incredible implosion.)

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Does Ireland's competitive
showing in Bangalore make England's loss to them seem slightly less bad? No!
But there is no denying that Ireland are having a terrific World Cup and for
that they should be praised to the rafters." (Mark rightly lauds Ireland for their application and gutsy showing
against India.)

CAPTION COMPETITION WINNER: Many thanks for yor entries for yesterday's caption competition deciding what KP was thinking. After much deliberation, Cow has decided that Stevedon7 is the worthy winner with this effort: "Yes! This is the pose! If Michaelangelo were alive today he would surely love to sculpt me, sculpt THIS, and then finally, the unfinished trinity would be complete, David...Moses...and Kevin..oh yeah baby."

COMING UP: The term 'irresistible'
is used far too liberally in connection with pre-match hype, but tomorrow's
clash between Kenya and Canada at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium
in Delhi warrants such heady, breathless billing. Will it make or break Group
A? No. But will it be mighty entertaining? Maybe.

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