Berlin — As preparations for the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia gather momentum, the Proteas are still eyeing their first piece of major silverware in limited overs cricket since the 1998 ICC Champions Trophy.
It has been a long road of disappointment after disappointment, particularly in ODI cricket where they have come so close, but fallen short on numerous occasions.
The semi-final in 1999, where Allan Donald was famously run-out with the Proteas needing just one run for victory against Australia, still haunts South African cricket to this day.
Experts of the game have offered theories on exactly why South Africa has struggled historically on the biggest stage, but it has remained one of the game's mysteries.
There is, of course, no scientific reason.
Speaking at the 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin, 1999 World Cup-winning captain Steve Waugh offered his thoughts.
Waugh acknowledges that much of it has had to do with luck, but he expanded to suggest that the Proteas were not flexible enough to change their plans under pressure.
"I just think back to 1999 and they said South Africa choked, but we choked as well, but they just choked at the wrong time. We choked the over before and it didn't matter as much," Waugh said.
"I think maybe the only way I can sum it up is that South Africa wanted it too much and were a bit too regimented and one-dimensional. Under those extreme moments of pressure, they haven't really had a back-up plan or a way to improvise and think on their feet.
"The really good thing is that they've put themselves in positions to lose those close matches. A lot of teams aren't there. they've still done really well."
Waugh believes that South African cricket is still rich in talent and he says that once they get over the psychological hurdle of winning a major tournament, they are likely to kick on from there.
"When you do it, it gives you that belief but until you've done it, you can't get that belief. You just need to do it that one time and then you'll be alright," he said.
"I'm sure that's the case for South Africa that if they win one, they'll wonder why they were so stressed about it. You've just got to somehow win that first one."
In terms of this year's World Cup, which gets underway in October, Waugh believes the hosts are best placed to win.
"Australia will be one of the favourites, if not the favourites for the T20 World Cup. They're a good team and capable of beating anyone so they will fancy their chances," he said.
"South Africa, maybe it's their time when it's least expected. Maybe they can pull a surprise.
"It's a bit of a stretch to think they might win it, but T20 has a bit more of an element of luck to it and if you get on a roll and a couple of players get some form, then there is definitely a chance.
"South Africa has a lot of talent in T20 cricket. I wouldn't rule them out."
The Proteas are hosting Australia in three ODIs and three T20s starting on February 21.