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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's continued failure to win a major international limited overs title hangs over the team like a "dark mist", coach Gary Kirsten said on Thursday after his team's premature exit from the Twenty20 World Cup.
The world's top-ranked test side, who have never won a 50 or 20 overs title despite starting as one of the favourites each time they enter a global tournament, lost all their Super Eight group matches in Sri Lanka.
Kirsten told a news conference after his team's return it was time for the current crop of South Africa players to shed the "choker" tag.
"It was a highly pressurised tournament in Sri Lanka but we were fully aware of that. The legacy that sits with South Africa cricket over these World Cup events continues to sit there, it's a dark mist that sits over the team and it will be our responsibility to at some point to overcome it," Kirsten said.
"I'm fully confident in the resources we have in this team and the guys who have to make those plays when we need to make them. But it's a collective mist that sits with us and it's our responsibility as custodians of the game of cricket in this country to overcome.
"We have to honour the people that support us so passionately in this country and say to them we are going to pull out a win at some point. We have three of these events coming up; the Champions trophy next June in England, then the World T20 and then the World Cup. There are quite a few coming through and hopefully this is a good stepping stone for us to be able to at some point cross the line in those events at some point."
Captain AB de Villiers said it was important that the Proteas learned to finish opponents off.
"We have the players to do it. During the game against Pakistan we had them 70 for seven but we did not have that killer instinct. It is an area where we need to get better at," he said.
"As a captain I would like to get better at knowing exactly who to turn to and when. There are so many different situations you're confronted with in a cricket game and it's important to pick on the right guys at the right time. Eleven guys, all different players, different people who deliver under different circumstances. For me to get that right is really important moving forward."
South Africa's next assignment is a three-test tour of Australia in November and Kirsten said that his team would not be disheartened by their poor performance in Sri Lanka.
"It's another key series for us, we've become number one in the world in test cricket but I think there's a real desire for us to stay there. To win that series in Australia is a good stepping stone. Everyone is looking forward to it. There will be a lot of hype around it with two quality teams," he said.
(Writing by Jason Humphries in Durban; Editing by John Mehaffey)
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