POSTED: Tuesday March 22nd 2011

Who are the biggest chokers in world cricket?

The South African cricket team have developed a reputation as chokers, crumbling under pressure when it really counts. In fact, the clear winner for the title of biggest chokers is the England cricket team. Here is why.

Say the word “chokers”, and the South African cricket team immediately springs to mind. The Proteas have developed a reputation for crumbling when it really counts. They have never advanced beyond the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup, despite being one of the highest-rated teams in the world.

The team clearly doesn’t appreciate the attention. South Africa’s all-rounder Jacques Kallis recently retorted, “They should go and look up the meaning of chokers in the dictionary first”. Well, we did. According to Wikipedia, a choke is the failure of a team to win a game when the team had been strongly favoured to win or had squandered a large lead. According to this definition, and based on recent results at the World Cup, South Africa do not deserve the choker tag.

In fact, the clear winner for the title of biggest chokers in world cricket is - England.

The thrilling World Cup match between England and Ireland on 2 March rates as one of the greatest chokes in the history of the game. England scored a mammoth total of 327 and Ireland looked dead and buried after slumping to 113/5 after 25 overs. “England’s winning chances at the start of the match were 96%”, said Gavin Symanowitz, CEO of ( “We tracked England’s winning chances ball-by-ball throughout the match, and halfway through the second innings this figure had increased to 99.99%”.  It took the fastest century in Cricket World Cup history by Kevin O’ Brien to turn the game around and snatch a historic victory for Ireland.  “The graph of the ball-by-ball winning chances over the course of the match is quite astonishing,” remarked Symanowitz, “we’re unlikely to see anything like it soon.” (See )

Nine days later, England repeated the feat against Bangladesh. With 10 overs left in the match, Bangladesh required 55 runs off 10 overs with just 2 wickets in hand. calculated England’s winning chances to be over 95% at this point. Amazingly, England managed to squander this favoured position, and Bangladesh cruised home with an over to spare. (See for a graph of the ball-by-ball winning chances throughout the match).

England even managed to choke in a game they weren’t expected to win. On 27 February, India justified their starting winning chances of 68% against England by amassing an impressive 338. At this point, England’s winning chances on were looking dismal at just over 10%. An incredible batting display by Andrew Strauss turned things around and England moved into a commanding position at 272/2 after 40 overs. “At this point, England’s winning chances were 89% and they looked set for an impressive victory”, recalls Symanowitz. “And then it fell apart. Six wickets fell in relatively quick succession and they managed to scramble a tie on the last ball”. (See for a graph of the ball-by-ball winning chances throughout the match).

It doesn’t take much for a label to stick. Sports fans are notoriously unforgiving. Will England be able to overcome the choker perception that their performances at the World Cup have created? Only time will tell.

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Keywords · cricket · ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 · South Africa · England · Proteas · English cricket · choke · chokers · upset

Name: Gavin Symanowitz
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