x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Time has come for Proteas to win major competition, says Smith

South Africa's dismal record at major international tournaments is becoming a millstone around Graeme Smith's neck, with the captain desperate to shed their chokers tag.

South Africa's dismal record at major international tournaments is becoming a millstone around Graeme Smith's neck, with the captain desperate to shed their chokers tag. The Proteas have arrived at nearly every principal event as one of the fancied sides but fallen short. They are yet to reach a final after seven 50-over and Twenty20 World Cups. Four semi-final appearances suggest they are unable to overcome at least one hurdle.

Smith was reminded of those painful statistics yet again on the eve of their World T20 opener against India, and he admitted there was no getting away from his team's failures as they prepared to face India today in St Lucia. "You guys [the press] keep raising the questions, as do people in the public," he said at the pre-match press conference in St Lucia. "So it's not something, until we actually go on to win a tournament, we are really going to be able to hide away from. I think hiding away would be the wrong way to look at it. The time has always come [to put the record straight]."

Herschelle Gibbs, who has experienced the disappointment of returning empty-handed from major tournaments for even longer than Smith, was ready to "exchange any major individual honour in my career for a winner's medal". "You can take any man-of-the-match award away," he was quoted as saying by the The Star newspaper in Bridgetown, Barbados. "I want to win a major ICC event, and it is the same for all the other senior players."

Australia have been South Africa's nemesis at major events, but they do not look as potent a threat in T20 cricket as they do in Tests and one-day internationals. But with the explosive David Warner in their ranks, Michael Clarke will fancy his side's chances. The Australia captain has given Warner a free hand to play his way at the top of the order and fireworks are expected from the dangerous opener, who scored a century in the Indian Premier League, when he takes to the wicket against Pakistan, the defending champions, in St Lucia tonight.

"He's the type of guy that sees it and hits it, and he's full of confidence," Clarke was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald. "He plays a huge part, like Matty Hayden used to for us." * Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi India v South Africa, 5.30pm, Australia v Pakistan, 9.30pm, both on CricOne