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The Art of Losing by Luke Alfred

The Art of Losing by Luke Alfred

Taken from the review done by Drew Forrest of Mail and Guardian.

Despite its subtitle, Luke Alfred's thoughtful and nuanced book about South Africa's serial failures in the Cricket World Cup does not set out to show that the national side are "chokers".

In fact, using a distinction drawn from Canadian writer Malcolm Gladwell, he argues that the problem has been more one of panic –unthinking raw emotion, a reversion to instinct – than the heightened self-consciousness and loss of spontaneity that choking implies. But more importantly, The Art of Losing makes no attempt to contrive a single explanation for South Africa's failure to reach the final in the past seven World Cups: each tournament is shown as having its own dynamic.

Panic is a plausible way of understanding what went wrong in England in 1999 when South Africa had perhaps its best side and most realistic chance of winning.

Alfred suggests that the semifinal run-out mix-up between Allan Donald and Lance Klusener happened because the two men – Donald paralysed by nerves and Klusener distracted by his heroic sense of mission – had lost sight of each other.

Click here to read the full review.

About the book:

How is it possible that the Proteas have never won a single knockout match at a World Cup? Are our cricketers unable to think on their feet? Is it fair to call them ‘chokers’? What can be done to win at last?

Since South Africa’s readmission to world cricket in 1991, the Proteas have played in six World Cups (and four World T20 tournaments) and have been knocked out in all of them. The reasons range from the weather and misreading the Duckworth–Lewis table to being outwitted on the field itself. In the most recent tournaments, though, they have shown a scandalous lack of nerve in the pressure-cooker of international knockout cricket.

Click here for more information on The Art of Losing.


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