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Kirsten: We choked

South Africa coach Gary Kirsten volunteered that the Proteas choked in losing to England by seven wickets in the Champions Trophy semi-final at The Oval.

South Africa have now lost eight semi-finals and have won just one, when they went on to take the inaugural Champions Trophy in 1998.

Today they slumped to 80 for eight and, although David Miller and Rory Kleinveldt rallied with a record 95-run stand for the ninth wicket, a total of 175 all out proved insufficient.

Kirsten, for whom today’s game was his last as national coach, said: “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.

Kirsten, who has guided South Africa to the top of the Test rankings, admitted there was no obvious solution to the semi-final jinx.

“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.“I think if we had the secret recipe to turn it around, we'd certainly package it and be selling it,” he said.

“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.”

England captain Alastair Cook differed with Kirsten in his assessment of the game.

“I don’t think they choked,” Cook said. “I thought we played very well and put them under a lot of pressure. We didn’t allow them to play so we need to give ourselves some credit for that.”

Cook added: “When you’re out in the middle you don’t want to use those terms or anything like that because they’ve got such a strong lower-middle order that they could rebuild.

“You’re always pushing, always trying to keep the foot on their throat and we did it all the way up to that partnership.

“I thought they batted very well in that partnership and there’s always the balancing act of ‘when do you use your fifth bowler?’, ‘do you need him or do you go totally for the kill?’. Whether I got that right I don’t know.”

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