Klusener : You can’t say the choker tag doesn’t fit us because it does

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Klusener : You can’t say the choker tag doesn’t fit us because it does

South African legend Lance Klusener admitted to the Proteas having misfired during the big moments and said they will have to bear with the tag until a World Cup comes their way. Zulu, as he is fondly called, also relived those two excruciating World Cup exits he was part of in 1999 and 2003.

In an exclusive to the Hindu, Klusener talked about the 'choker' tag that has haunted the Proteas despite going into Cup after Cup with one of the best sides of the time. “It’s easy to place that tag because we haven’t won a big one. But, unfortunately, we will have to deal with that till we win an ICC World Cup. But if you look back, you can’t say the tag doesn’t fit us because it does. We need to play those big moments better, have our players taking more responsibility. Maybe our preparation to tournament cricket needs to be looked at,” said Klusener.

The legend also painfully recounted the infamous 1999 World Cup run-out that sent Australia into the final and South Africa home. Talking about it, “I said to Allan, ideally I would like to hit another boundary and seal it that way. But I also said that if we could get a single somewhere we should take it as well. I could not score off the third.

“Off the fourth, it looked like a single to me, the ball went past the bowler. But Allan [watching the ball] had to turn before starting to run,” he told the Hindu.

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He added, “I had the best seat in the house to judge the run. Unfortunately there was a lot of noise. And with Allan’s back turned the other side, he didn’t really hear the call. I guess we all know what happened afterwards. People might say we should have waited for the next two balls. Who’s to say the next delivery would not have been a great yorker from Fleming. That’s sports. There are no guarantees.”

Klusener then went on to describe the much-analyzed bungling-up of the 2003 World Cup at home after the dressing room sent wrong messages to the batsmen leading to their painful ouster. Klusener and Boucher, who were in the middle, received the wrong numbers on the D/L method and batted out the balls only to lose by a single run.

“I was batting and it was just unfortunate. The message we got was if we didn’t lose a wicket in that over, we would go through on Duckworth and Lewis. We tied the game but lost out on a technicality.

“The Duckworth Lewis gives you the par score for a tie. It was interpreted as that what was needed to win. We didn’t read that well,” recounted Klusener to the Hindu.

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Going on about the final ball, the Zulu added, “If you go back and look at the final ball that Mark Boucher faced from Muttiah Muralitharan, he kind of tucked it into square-leg. If we wanted to run, we could have got a run quite easily. We didn’t run because there was no need to risk a wicket. It cost us.

“I don’t think Sri Lanka knew it either since their fielders were quite deep, and not really protecting a single.”

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