By Adrian Porter
LONDON, 30 May 1999 - Three weeks into cricket's
World Cup competition and, so far, only occasional slivers of real
excitement. Big innings - yes. Magnificent fielding and inspired
bowling - yes. And even some interesting results. But no pulsating
finishes; no surges of adrenalin as some hero upsets the odds.
nothing like Manchester United's miraculous last-minute win against
Bayern Munich in soccer's European Cup final.
cricketing eyes are already on the start of the "Super Six"
round on June 4th, when the six minnows - though often gallant and
even victorious on occasion - have been swallowed as the six big fish
go eyeball to eyeball into the nitty gritty process of final
Yet, when I say "big scores" I mean
BIG. In their match against Sri Lanka, the Indian players Sourav
Ganguly and Rahul Dravid scored 183 not out and 145 respectively.
Together, they set a record World Cup partnership of 318 and India's
total of 373 was the second highest in international one-day matches.
Three days earlier, the Indian captain, Sachin Tendulkar, had scored
At the other end of the scale, it was left to the home
countries, England and Scotland to set record lows in the competition;
Scotland with the lowest score, 68, against the West Indies and
England with the second-lowest score - 103 runs in a dismal
performance against South Africa.
It was almost as dismal as
the weather has been. When it hasn't been raining it has been cold
with fitful sunshine. One might have expected England to thrive in
such typical, local conditions and there has been talk that it was an
English ploy to have the World Cup so early in the season.
talk overlooks the fact that cricket administrators' obsession with
making money tends to cloud their already limited intellectual
If an important decision has to be made, they
will make the wrong one. Is it approaching the rainy season in the
Carribean? Send a touring team there to play the West Indies. Are the
Australian cricketers jaded after non-stop travelling on tours? Great.
Send them on another one before the World Cup. Does it sometimes snow
in England in May? Fine. Organise the World Cup for that month.
are said to be 1200 different items of coloured kit among the sides in
the World Cup and it looked at times if players from tropical climes
were wearing them all at once to keep out the cold.
has, however, been one hot issue and that's the number of wide balls
recorded so far. Bowlers whose propulsion of the ball has been the
slightest bit wayward have heard over-zealous umpires call "wide
ball" at every possible opportunity.
A record number has
been called. And, while this has merely angered bowlers and
knowledgeable onlookers, it has actually caused grief and anguish to
bookmakers who were foolish enough to offer odds on the number of wide
balls that would be bowled in the tournament.
competition began, the bookies reckoned that up to 280 wides might be
bowled in the 42 matches to be played. Within a week, their
calculation had been forced up to 850 after savvy punters had won
about £250,000 ($400,000) by betting it would be a lot more.
bookmakers were on safer ground with their "Fatties' Bets".
These are wagers on which of the more portly and less athletic players
will be run out while trundling for a quick single or muck up their
fielding because of their lack of speed and agility.
include: rotund Ian Austin of England, flabby Arjuna Ranatunga of Sri
Lanka, bulky Inzamam-ul-Haq, and tubby Shane Warne of Australia.
fact, Warne has resembled a tub of lard so much lately that a claque
of spectators, not known for their taste or subtlety, floated a
balloon in the shape of a whale when Warne appeared on the field of
Warne, who has a reputation for arrogance and vanity,
was so enraged that he indulged in some lewd finger gestures at the
crowd and was immediately warned by officialdom to curb his lack of
self-discipline - his temper, not his eating habits.
group of officials - in the British Department of Immigration - have
also been obliged to put their foot down because of the World Cup.
This followed the flood of applications for visas from residents of
India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to visit England to attend the
tournament. Immigration inspectors, who are sensitive to attempts by
people from the sub-continent to get into England and then stay there
illegally, have devised a special test for visa applicants to explore
their knowledge of cricket. If, for instance, they don't know their
l.b.w. from a no-ball - then it's no visa.
THE SECOND WEEK:
beat Zimbabwe by 7 wickets
India beat Kenya by 91 runs
beat Sri Lanka by 157 runs
South Africa beat England by 122
South Africa beat Kenya by 7 wickets
beat Zimbabwe by 4 wickets
beat Bangladesh by 7 wickets
Bangladesh beat Scotland by 22
Pakistan beat Australia by 10 runs
beat Bangladesh by 7 wickets
West Indies beat New Zealand by
West Indies beat Scotland by 8 wickets
top three countries in Group A will meet the top three in Group B in a
"Super Six" play-off beginning on June 4th.