BERLIN – The Proteas have experienced the worst kind of nightmares at ICC tournaments over the years, and Steve Waugh feels that part of the reason for it is that they have been “too regimented and too one-dimensional”.
The former Australian captain, speaking in Berlin ahead of the Laureus Sports Awards on Monday night, told Independent Media that luck has played a part in his country’s success at major events, and that things will change for South Africa once they make that breakthrough.
Coach Mark Boucher will hope that the Proteas experience such joy at the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year, although he will be smarting from the 2-1 series defeat to England following the five-wicket victory in Centurion on Sunday.
Australia begin their preparations in South Africa on Monday for three T20 internationals and three ODIs against the Proteas, but often get over the line in ICC tournaments.
Waugh – who is also a Laureus Academy member – embodied that mental toughness throughout his career, and said that the key is to have a number of solutions when you are in trouble on the field.
“Look, it’s a little bit of luck obviously. I just think back to 1999 and they said South Africa choked… But we choked as well – it’s just that they choked at the wrong time!” said the 54-year-old, who led Australia to the 1999 World Cup title.
“We choked the over before and it didn’t matter as much, so look, there is a bit of luck about it. I think maybe the only way I can sum it up is that maybe South Africa wanted it too much. And they are a bit too regimented and too one-dimensional.
“And then, under those extreme moments of pressure, they haven’t really got a back-up plan or a Plan B, or how are they going to improvise and think on their feet under pressure situations… Maybe (that’s) the only criticism I can have of South Africa.
“But I guess the really good thing is that they’ve put themselves in positions to lose those close matches – a lot of teams aren’t there. So, they’ve still done really well, but just haven’t got over that final hurdle.
“I think we (Australia) have the belief. When you do it, for some reason, it gives you that belief. And until you’ve done it, you can’t get it. So, you just need to do it that one time, and then you’ll be alright.
“I’m sure that is the case with South Africa. If they win one, they’ll be like ‘Oh, why were we so stressed over it?’ and they’ll win more. But you’ve just got to somehow win that first one.”
I had a really interesting chat with former Australian captain and @LaureusSport Academy member Steve Waugh in Berlin today about the #Proteas, so check out @IOLsport soon for the story (and a video!) 🏏🇦🇺 #Laureus20 #SportUnitesUs pic.twitter.com/63y1kb52f0
— Ashfak Mohamed (@ashfakmohamed) February 16, 2020
And guess what – Waugh didn’t rule out the possibility of working with the Proteas one day. “I would be happy to coach South Africa! I think… I don’t know – coaching – I like mentoring more so than coaching, so maybe mentoring is a possibility.
“I think I’d find it hard not to be involved with Australia, but I guess you never say never. But South Africa have got enough very good mentors and coaches to probably not need me. And I’m not sure if South Africa would embrace me as a coach! But, you never know…”