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I think we choked: Gary Kirsten

The South Africa coach expressed disappointment at his side's batting and said England batted like his team ought to have

I think we choked: Gary Kirsten - Cricket News
South Africa Coach Gary Kirsten.
This must be a pretty disappointing way to say goodbye. What do you make of the way it ended and the shock of that performance, if you like? 
Yeah, it was very disappointing. I mean, obviously not what we wanted to do. I think we had better expectations of our performances, for sure. You know, to be blown away with the bat with the quality of batsmen we've got in our batting lineup, I suppose, is very disappointing from that perspective. It's not something that you would expect. 

I certainly felt we were giving a better batting performance than that, and then we managed to get to 170 to give us something to bowl at through a great innings. 

But to have quality batsmen like that not being able to make a contribution, it's disappointing. But, yeah, that's the way it is.   

Why do you think it is the team can perform so well under pressure in the Test arena and yet struggle in the shorter format? 
I think if we had the secret recipe to turn it around, we'd certainly package it and be selling it. We certainly give it our best shot in our preparation. We try different things to go through and stuff like that. But, you know, it's one of these things. It's definitely a dark mist that hangs over South African cricket in knock-out events. At some point we're going to have to try to cross the line. It's going to require some real charisma and some real batsmen to get over the line. It might not be pretty, but at some point we're going to have to do it to get rid of this mess. 

It is an unfortunate thing. As I said, it's not through lack of trying to do what we can to try to lift that. But it does require an enormous amount of resilience, and maybe certain types of individuals that can do it for us.   

How much of the fact did you think the absence of Dale do you think affected the batsmen? 
No, I mean, we're used to not having our top players playing with us all the time. In fact, that's what we try to do is broaden the base of our team. So we've had some good players come through into the team. We like to think that we can perform with anyone out there. I think we have to be realistic in the tournament. We ended up with one win.  We have been up‑and‑down in our one-day cricket over a while. We haven't been consistent in our one-day cricket. That is maybe because we've explored quite a lot of combinations over the last two years. We've rested our Test players quite a bit to try to broaden the base of our one-day team. So there has definitely been an inconsistency to our cricket, and certainly when you play in big tournaments like this and important tournaments, maybe you get exposed in that I suppose.   

I'm wondering if it's ODI cricket or semi-finals, because this is now the 8th semifinal that South Africa have lost, only ever won one in the 1998 Champions Trophy? 
Again, I don't know the answers to be honest with you. I can only tell you, yeah, we've given it our best shot to try to overcome it, and we haven't. Whether it's the semi-final, knock-out games, I don't think it's only been semi-finals. We didn't play well in the ICC World Twenty20 last year. So we certainly do what we can to arrive in the tournament really to do something. I had shared pretty good expectations going into the semi-final because I thought we were batting really well. 

As a batting unit, what do you do? Do you load your batting and try to put nine batsmen on the team, or do you back your batsmen you've backed all through the series and the guys that have been performing for you in other tournaments? The only way I can answer that is I don't think there is any secret recipe. I just hope we can cross the line in on of these semifinal events and turn it around.   

Do you see anything identified as going wrong with the players since you've been coaching them the last two years? And do you think the team misses what of Jacques Kallis? Would you want him to come back? 
Yeah, I think in high‑pressure games and pressurized environments, you want your most experienced players because they're used to those situations but at the same time, your experienced players can have a lot of scoring from past events. So it is a bit of a tough one.  It would be nice to have Jacques Kallis here. 

But South African cricket has to move past Jacques Kallis. He's been around for 20 years and been an incredible servant to the game, but we need to find other players and I think we have. I think our strength going into this Champions Trophy was our batting line-up. We focused our attention on our middle-order, we thought with AB de Villiers, Francois du Plessis, David Miller and JP Duminy that we had a powerful middle-order unit. 

We tried to bring in Robin Peterson in at three and lengthen our batting unit a little bit and still have four seamers, and that we thought was our best combination. Certainly in that situation, I think we did everything we could. Those four batsmen are our batsmen in form. 

David Miller I think had a good tournament. He's been a new guy to come in, and he's shown he's capable of playing at this level. And Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, and Franc de Plessis have been standard fixtures on our team for a while.   

Are you happy with the depth you've seen, in particular, the bowling over the last few years? 
Yeah, I think we've tried, certainly in my two years with the team, we've had 16 new players play on the team, so we've certainly explored the talent in South African cricket. I think there is still more out there. At some point you need to find some stability. We've done that in the Test matches because we've been able to. I think as with any international team, one-day format, 20‑over format, you tend to experiment and explore with that. So we need to probably find some stability through our bowling unit. 

We certainly tried now six or seven units and we need to settle on a few now.   

South Africa has not won any knock-out match in ICC events since beating England in Nairobi in quarter-finals and you played in that game. With so many big matches, what is the main reason? Why does South Africa always perform so badly at such high octane matches? 
I tried to answer that question earlier.   

Gary, there's got to be a lot of firsts among players in this tournament, and you're not going to be around with them. What would your advice be to them to get over it and to move on and go forward without carrying baggage? 
Yeah, I think that question was asked at the last press conference. So that question keeps getting asked. What do you do? You move on. You try to get to that ‑‑ these guys play really good cricket throughout the year. They're a good cricket team, and at the next World Cup event, how do you overcome it? Well, the guys that are in charge will do everything they can to try to do that, you know? It's a horrible thing that happens. 

It doesn't only happen to South African cricket. I believe it happens in a lot of other sports and other industries. It happens to people. But at some point you need to cross the line because people are going to continue looking at you and say you can't do it in that space. That's exactly where it is. It's really tough on individuals. 

I don't think as individuals they get emotionally hijacked. It's rather, if they play for other teams, they play brilliant cricket. But then they come to South African cricket, there is this mist that hangs over the team and it's going to require really tough individuals to try to overcome that.

The interventions and the thinking to overcome it mentally, I don't think there is better thinking out there.  At some point there just needs to be guys that actually buy into it and say, well, I could use this information, and these are the tools that I can use to not become hijacked in that situation and go make a contribution and pressurized moment which the guys do.  We see it in all our other cricket except this particular event.   

Resilience? Would you say that today was lacking? And secondly, as a one-day coach of record, do you think you've left the team in a better state than when you started? 
I don't know if I've left them in a better state because I certainly would have liked to have taken the team to at least the final, which I haven't been able to do so. 

But did I leave the team in a better state? I don't know. We certainly haven't improved, and that's where the question mark needs to come over me, so maybe it's a good decision that I'm leaving. As a coach, you always want to take the team forward in some way. I think there are some good signs. 

We're playing some good one‑day cricket. We've definitely seen some nice youngsters come through and younger players; but certainly in events of this nature, we haven't gone forward, no, and that is disappointing. We have to take that on the chin and move forward and work out ways that we can make it work. Certainly we all move on to different journeys and different experiences wherever we go, and we try to give it our best shot. That's all we can do. 

The first question, did we show captain resilience? That is a difficult question, because the game of cricket is about momentum. When you get some momentum, things work in your favor and you go. We certainly said at the halfway mark defending 176, and we said are we going to step up as a South African team and South African people and try to make something happen? At 42 I thought we had a sniff at it, and we probably didn't bowl like we wanted to at that point in time. But then you have someone like Jonathan Trott who knows what to do in those situations batted really well. 

Batted like maybe we should have batted in many situations so we can certainly take some learning out of that. But this team over the years and time that I've been with this team, we've had many situations where we've gone through a tough time and overcome it. That's the South African way. It looked very simple and easy out there for England, but I think a lot of it depends on where the momentum of the game is?   

There is sort of knee‑jerking going on in South Africa at the moment.  I'm sure you can imagine the word choke is trending on Twitter.  It didn't look like that to me, it looked like you were beaten by the better team.  But how do you explain to South Africans that it hasn't happened again in this match? 
I think it has happened again to be honest with ourselves.  I think we did choke again.  At the end of the day, it's a word that we've become comfortable with.  It's an uncomfortable word, that we've become comfortable with, and you have to accept that that's what it is.  So they bowled exceptionally well, England.  But at the end of the day, that doesn't mean your batting should (Indiscernible).  You know what I mean? 

​So it's a horrible word.  It does get used.  We've spoken about it; we've been up front about it as a team. We certainly let you are ourselves down today, no doubt.   

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