The outgoing coach Mark Boucher on Sunday described South Africa's shocking defeat by the Netherlands in the T20 World Cup as the worst of his tenure, the result leading to another heartbreaking exit for the perennial chokers.
Having done in by rain in their Super 12 opener against Zimbabwe, the Proteas climbed up to the top of Group 2 with wins over Bangladesh and India. They needed to beat minnows Netherlands to make the last four.
But their bowling let them down as the Dutch posted a challenging 158 for four and restricted their fancied opponents to 145 for eight for a famous 13-run win. "When we woke up, if you look at the way that we started the game, our energies were low. Whether that's because it's a half-past 10 game, times have been quite difficult, I don't know, I haven't really put my finger on it," Boucher said when asked what went wrong.
It was yet another early World Cup exit for South Africa who have never managed to make the final in either ODI or T20 format. "Feels gutted, to be honest. As I said, I think this squad deserved to give themselves a better chance, and yeah, unfortunately, it didn't happen for us, which is very disappointing for me and certainly every single guy who's in our dressing room at the moment," said the former South Africa wicketkeeper-batter.
It all began on their international return at the 1992 ODI World Cup, when they were done in by a farcical rain rule. Needing 22 from 13 balls in the semifinal against England, the equation post-rain became 21 from one delivery.
In the 1999 World Cup semi-final, they needed just one run from four balls against Australia, but the match ended in favour of the Aussies after Allan Donald's bizarre run-out.
In 2003, they were in the driver's seat with Boucher at the helm, but they miscalculated the Duckworth/Lewis (DLS) equation and rain resulted in yet another exit after a tie with Sri Lanka in the group stage.
They also lost in the semifinals of the 2007 and 2015 ODI World Cup, while in the T20 showpiece South Africa made the semi-finals twice (2009 and 2014).
Asked if the Netherlands defeat was the worst of all results, Boucher said: "Probably as a coach, yes,"
"It is quite frustrating because as a player you can at least still have a say in the game. As a coach, you're sort of left to leave it up to other individuals to go out there and try and perform. Yeah, certainly as a coach, yeah, it's up there,"
On their multiple World Cup debacles, he said: "I think each one is an individual event. I know there's a lot of history behind South African cricket and World Cups, but at the last World Cup, I thought, we played some very good cricket. We lost one game and were knocked out. This time around if you would have said to us we've got the Netherlands to play to get into a semifinal and we've got to beat them, we would have taken that at the start of the tournament,"
"But yeah, these things happen. It's not the only upset that's happened in the tournament. I think our plans were there, but we didn't quite use them well enough. If you look at the game as a whole, I think Netherlands out-bowled us. They bowled with good plans, bowled to the longer side of the field, and they were just able to create more pressure on us than we were able to put pressure on them,"