AB De Villiers South Africa
AB De Villiers will be the key man for South Africa at the World CupReuters

South Africa have had to live with the "chokers" tag for a while now, and that tag only gets highlighted more than ever when a World Cup draws near.

The Proteas, once again, head into the ICC Cricket World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand, as one of the clear favourites, and only time will tell if they can live up to the hype.

One thing that the team management might have considered, going into this big tournament is taking a psychologist with them, to help handle the undeniable pressure and help them move past that "chokers" tag, which will undoubtedly be bandied around every time they take the field.

"We're not taking one," said SA coach Russell Domingo when asked about the possible inclusion of a sports psychologist. "I've tried to approach this World Cup as though we are approaching any other series.

"We've been playing really good cricket without the services of a mental coach over the last year and a bit, so why create the anxiety when we've been doing so well without it. This team is mentally in a better state than it's ever been.

"They've won games in high-pressure situations under different conditions at different venues. They've got a pride in performance, they are passionately led by a captain who plays with his heart on his sleeve. All the blocks are in place to overcome those mental challenges that we are going to face."

South Africa do head into the World Cup in good mood, having waltzed all over West Indies in their home series, and when you have a man who goes by the name of AB De Villiers in your lineup, it is impossible not to be considered one of the favourites for the tournament.

Domingo's ploy to play down the importance of this World Cup, though, might not work.

"I am trying to downplay the importance of this World Cup," added the coach. "It's massively important, we know that from the public perception but for us, it's just business as usual.

"I am hoping my wife still loves me after the World Cup if I come back having not won a World Cup, and I am hoping she loves me the exactly same if we come back having won the World Cup.

"There's so much that happens in life and there are so many unfortunate people that my happiness as a person shouldn't depend on whether I win a World Cup. It would be great to win it, we are desperate to win and we will do everything we can to do it but there are also more important things in life."

While that is pretty deep and psychological in itself, the World Cup is not any other series, and as much as Domingo might want to say that out loud or to his players, it will not change.

The World Cup is a tournament that only comes around every four years, and, more importantly, from South Africa's point of view, it is a tournament they have never won before.

The kind of team they have, led by the irresistible De Villiers and the sometimes-unplayable Dale Steyn, South Africa will know it is a great opportunity missed if they fail to make it to, at least, the final this time around.

The pressure is certainly on, even if Domingo might try to convince everyone otherwise.

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