By Adrian Porter
LONDON, 4 June 1999 - So, now, it's into the
confrontation of the "Super Six" teams of the World Cup
cricket tournament; its advent heralded, in the last stages of the
final rounds, by some long-awaited action to stir the adrenalin.
Zimbabwe's victory over the tournament favourites, South Africa, has
been described as miraculous. And so it was; coming from a country
with a cricket-playing community of 5,000 at the very most.
was a gutsy performance which saw Zimbabwe, which was defending a
moderate total of 233, bowl and field like men possessed to bring the
South Africans to their knees at 40 for 6 and then finish them off for
a total of only 185.
For once, Zimbabwe's "flower power"
- the combination of captain, Andy Flower, and his brother, Grant -
failed to produce the goods. But opener, Neil Johnson who has played
major cricket in South Africa, made up for the pair of them. He scored
a superb 76 and followed this with three wickets for 27 runs off eight
overs to collect the "Man of the Match" award.
only was it a tournament turnover but it also saw Zimbabwe's first win
over their powerful southern neighbours. And, as a bonus, it
accelerated England's demise from the competition just as everyone was
thinking that, as South Africa was bound to to beat Zimbabwe, the host
country would make the "Super Six".
For some of us,
there was the feeling that it was a case of just desserts for England
who created considerable animosity on their tour to Zimbabwe a couple
of years ago.
There, the efforts of the hosts to offer a warm
welcome and generous hospitality were spurned by the loutish behaviour
of aloof English players who gave the impression of preferring their
own glorious company in hotel rooms to accepting social invitaions
from their hosts.
A gesture, typifying the attitude of some
of those who play for England these days, was demonstrated a few days
ago by the captain, Alec Stewart. He displayed his lack of manners by
keeping his left hand stuck in his trousers pocket as he shook hands
with the Queen at a reception she was obviously duty-bound to give in
Buckingham Palace for Stewart and his "mates".
on the cricket field, Zimbabwe's epic triumph was equalled later by
Bangladesh whose historic defeat of a seemingly unstoppable Pakistan
was also its firts victory over a Test-playing nation.
began the game as 33-1 outsiders but scored a creditable 223 and then
had their Muslim neighbours in the sub-continent with their backs
against the wall at 42 for 5 wickets. The Pakistanis tried to fight
back but finally succumbed at 161 all out.
and their thousands of supporters in Britain, who went on to party all
night, had reason to make celebratory noises after play, but if points
were substracted from team performances because of the hellish
cacophony created on cricket grounds by the mindless idiots among some
of their supporters, then India and Pakistan would have been on their
way home by now.
The racket kicked up by drums, horns, bells
and whistles followed by surges of people on to the ground at, or even
before, the end of play seem to demonstrate a childish desire to
attract attention rather than any attempt to take an intelligent
interest in the play.
The rules of the tournament expressly
forbid the use of noise-making devices, face masks, and fancy dress by
spectators. Face masks and fancy dress often improve the actual
appearance of some supporters but the noise they make is in indirect
proportion to their understanding of the game.
behaviour - or lack of it - is now a matter of real concern to the
authorities because of fears that the national enmity between rival
Pakistan and Indian supporters may flare up into violence at their
match in Manchester on June 8th because of the recent upsurge of
Indo-Pakistani frontier tensions in Kashmir.
religious tensions in the sub-continent were highlighted - but in a
touching way - by the young Pakistani batsman, Yousof Youhana, who
crosses himself when he completes some milestone in his appearances.
is only the second Christian to play for his Muslim-dominated homeland
and he has become a high-profile representative of a country where
Christians are the poorest community, who are unable to vote with the
rest of the electorate and who often suffer under blasphemy laws
introduced by Pakistan's military dictatorship. Cricket can unite as
well as devide.
RESULTS AFTER THE THIRD WEEK:
beat West Indies by 6 wickets
Bangladesh beat Pakistan by 62
India beat England by 63 runs
New Zealand beat
Scotland by 6 wickets
Pakistan beat New Zealand by 62 runs
Lanka beat Kenya by 45 runs
Zimbabwe beat South Africa by 48
The leading three teams from Group A and Group
B go through to meet each other in the "Super Six" fixtures
between June 4th and June 13th.
They are : Australia, India,
New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Zimbabwe.