Bengaluru, March 25: Former England captain Mike Atherton said in an article in The Australian that calling the South Africans as chokers is "utter nonsense" after they lost yet another semifinal in the World Cup, this time to an unstoppable New Zealand, who made their maiden final.
Atherton, who led England in the 1996 World Cup, said: "...it is utter nonsense, of course, an accusation made by those who know little of what it means to play professional sport; to commit to an endeavour totally and to reveal yourself and all your weaknesses (and strengths) in front of a baying crowd."
"There were 41,000 or so New Zealanders in the throbbing and humming Eden Park yesterday and none of them who witnessed the fight and determination by De Villiers' men could surely have left the stadium thinking of South Africa's cricketers as failures."
The writer said the South African players revealed themselves one by one. "Du Plessis dug in, soaked up initial pressure and then blossomed; De Villiers bristled and threatened to take the game out of New Zealand's reach until an untimely rain break; David Miller pounded New Zealand's bowlers into submission after the rain; when Brendon McCullum ran amok at the start of New Zealand's innings, Imran Tahir, the leg spinner found the courage and skill to bowl a maiden in the most trying circumstances; Dale Steyn continued to bowl despite hamstring and calf injuries. And Morkel picked his knees up time and again and thundered the ball into the middle of the pitch."
Atherton said only a fool could call these men losers.
He said luck and the formidable form of the home team proved too much for South Africa in the match at the end.
The English also backed Brendon McCullum who said calling the South Africans as "chokers" was inappropriate.