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Cricket World Cup - Third Week:
Zimbabwe and Bangladesh topple giants
to make "Super Six" round

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.

Lowly 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.

It 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.

Not 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".

Back 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.

They 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.

The Bangladeshis 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.

Crowd 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.

National and 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.

He 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:

Australia beat West Indies by 6 wickets

Bangladesh beat Pakistan by 62 runs

India beat England by 63 runs

New Zealand beat Scotland by 6 wickets

Pakistan beat New Zealand by 62 runs

Sri Lanka beat Kenya by 45 runs

Zimbabwe beat South Africa by 48 runs


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.




Adrian Porter spent a working lifetime as a foreign correspondent for the BBC and other news organisations in various parts of the world. As a cricket fanatic, he managed to find time to play the game in such unlikely places as Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Singapore and New York. His latest venture was to help establish a cricket team in Strasbourg and looks forward to a team from France playing in the World Cup.


Photos in this series courtesy The Book of British Sporting Heroes, compiled by James Huntingdon-Whiteley, published to accompany the exhibition, British Sporting Heroes, held at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 16 October 1998 to 24 January 1999, and available at the National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2H 0HE

Read Adrian Porter's weekly articles on the Cricket World Cup

Opening article: Domination is the Name of the Game
Results of 1st Week: A Commonwealth Row and High Tech Foul Up Cricketing Traditions
Results of 2nd Week: Umpires Upset Bookmakers With Excessive Wide Balls


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