By Adrian Porter
LONDON, 22 May 1999 - Just as it seemed that the
seventh cricket World Cup tourney had settled into a predictable
groove with the major players beating the small fry, up came a couple
First, lowly-rated Zimbabwe took the smile off
the face of the Indian tiger. Then New Zealand walloped the wallabies
- their great rivals from across the Tasman Sea, Australia.
In the more sensational finish of the two matches, India managed to
snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by losing their last three
wickets in one over when they needed only four runs to win.
The hero of this David-over-Goliath kind of triumph was Henry Olonga,
a burly, black fast bowler with a funky peroxide-blond hair style, who
was, surprisingly, called on to bowl after his previous spell had
included six wides. He needed only one over to finish the job.
The New Zealand-Australia contest proved that those pundits who had
tipped a good outsider to beat a tested favourite knew that dogged
tenacity could triumph over talent and flair.
sticking to a tight game in the field and then batting sensibly with
only the occasional flourish of big hits, New Zealand won through.
A prize for the least heroic performance went to underdogs, Scotland,
who managed to equal a World Cup record by bowling 59 wides and
no-balls in their game against Pakistan. The men from the land of
kilts and haggis then went on to make only 366 runs in chasing 262.
Other than that, the first week of the tournament has proceeded much
as expected but they have all lost, in the end, to more powerful and
It seemed, for instance, that Sri
Lanka were about to bowl out the favourites, South Africa, for a
moderate total when in strode Lance Klusener, a belligerent fast
bowler with a penchant for big hitting.
Bam! Bam! Bam! he
went - to clobber the Sri Lankan bowlers for 52 runs in 45 balls,
including 18 off the final four balls of the game.
activity on the field following predictable outcomes, it has been left
to off-the-field shenanigans to provide most of the surprise and drama
For example, the wily Australian leg-spin bowler and
trouble-maker, Shane Warne, ruffled feathers by calling into question
the sportnsmanship of the Sri Lankan captain, Arjuna Ranatunga - a
querulous individual, who is far from the top of any cricketers'
"The game would be better off without
him", said Warne. "I don't like him and I'm not in a club of
one. I don't know how many times he is going to do the wrong thing and
get away with it."
Ranatunga, who is not a man to
suffer Australian verbiage in silence, retorted: "Warne's attack
is more about Warne and Australian culture than about me and I think
we all know where the Australians come from."
hardly hear the Australian protests for the rattling of old convict
Not long after this, the South Africans fell foul of
cricketing traditions and official ire by trying to introduce modern
electronic technology into the game.
Their captain, Hansie
Cronje, was spotted, while on the field, wearing a radio earphone
through which he was receiving advice and instructions from the team's
coach, Bob Woolmer.
Officials huffed that this was a cutting
edge too deep and in keeping more with smarty pant American football
practices than the age old game of willow bat and leather ball. A ban
has been enforced until the matter can be quietly considered after the
The issue, of course, is likely to finish up
in as much a fog as the officials created at the ceremonies to open
the tournament. This began on a misty, damp morning in London with an
ill-conceived fireworks display which left the ground so wreathed in
smoke that play was held up almost half an hour.
AFTER THE FIRST WEEK:
beat Sri Lanka by 8 wickets
England beat Kenya by 9 wickets
South Africa beat India by 4 wickets
South Africa beat Sri
Lanka by 89 runs
Zimbabwe beat Kenya by 5 wickets
Zimbabwe beat India by 3 runs
Australia beat Scotland by 6 wickets
New Zealand beat
Bangladesh by 6 wickets
New zealand beat Australia by 5
Pakistan beat West Indies by 27 runs
Pakistan beat Scotland by 95 runs
The top three
countries in Group A will meet the top three in Group B in a "Super
Six" play-off beginning on June 4th.