South Africa crashed out of the ICC Champions Trophy after losing to England in their final group match at Centurion.
England won the match by 22 runs after posting a superb score of 323/8. The target was always going to be extremely challenging and South Africa came up short in replying with 301/9. The loss means that South Africa in last place in their pool, are out of the Champions trophy.
England won the toss and once again South Africa were fielding first. As with their first game against Sri Lanka, an ill-disciplined bowling effort conceded too many runs. Steyn and Parnell set the tone so beautifully against New Zealand, but on this occasion their lengths too often strayed on the full or short side gifting England runs.
With early momentum, England batted well, and the third wicket partnership of 163 between Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood was match winning.
Chasing a score of 324 to win, South Africa once again started cautiously. Herschelle Gibbs once again failed to produce substantial innings, and the loss of Kallis exposed the middle order prematurely.
De Villiers, Duminy, and Boucher all got settled but couldn't deliver under pressure, and wickets kept derailing South Africa's bid to seriously launch at the England total. It meant the Proteas were always a step behind, and eventually they left it too late, with not enough wickets to seriously threaten England's score.
After the match, Graeme Smith had this to say, "It's hugely disappointing, I think it's about giving your all, unfortunately we fell 22 runs short. Two of the games, we have given away over 300 runs, it's difficult to chase that much regularly. You have to give credit to the way England batted, anything around 300 we would have cruised in but 320 was a step too far. I wish I had a remedy, we've got the potential, there is no point giving excuses (about crashing out of another ICC tournament)."
For the Proteas it represents another episode of choking in an ICC tournament. Many in South Africa will be reluctant to use that word, with different interpretations of what choking represents. To me it means we once again failed to perform on the world stage, to the best of our ability. Pressure got to us and we indeed choked.
South Africa need to look at their strategy, game plan and mindset. The skills are there, of that there is no doubt. Why is it we perform in two- team series but not tournaments. I believe it's because we are one-dimensional and execute best when we can come up with one particular strategy for one side. In tournaments we have to be more adaptable, change game-plans, adjust to different grounds, play different situations.
We like to play one type of strategy. It's evident by the fact the Proteas like to chase targets. We need to be able to bat first and put large scores on the board if conditions warrant it. Whilst we are good chasing, it's often only if we have bowled well. The 438 achieved at the Wanderers against Australia was the exception.
Too often we time our run chases poorly, leaving too much to the end and coming up short. It's a problem that was evident twice chasing large scores against Australia earlier this year. We need to be more aggressive and learn to score quickly, and get ahead of the required run rate. It requires a rethink of strategy, mental adjustment, and greater confidence in their own ability.
I know the skills are there, I just hope we have it between the ears for that's where we need to look at ourselves if we ever want to win another ICC tournament.