By Adrian Porter
LONDON, 18 June 1999 - It has been a case for saving
the best for last in the cricket World Cup. In fact, if only for three
alone out of the 45 games played, the tournament can be said to have
been worth it.
As might have been expected, two of these best
three matches came in the final week. And both of them involved those
doughty antagonists - Australia and South Africa.
mixture of sheer sensation, elation and dejection, all wrapped up in
the last two overs of a game, the semi-final between these two at
Egbaston has to be one of the greatest games of limited overs cricket
The ending tells the story. It's the final over.
With its last two men at the crease - Lance Klusener and the fast
bowler, Alan Donald - South Africa has tied the match by reaching the
Australian total of 213 runs. One run is needed to win and there are
three balls left. It should be easy.
Klusener is facing. He
mishits to mid-off but, scenting a quick single in it, he runs.
Donald, however, is watching the ball behind him, not his partner.
Donald turns round and, to his astonishment, finds Klusener has
skidded to a stop beside him. He drops his bat and tries to get to the
other end but is run out by yards. Australia wins because of their
higher run rate.
It was a bitter moment for the South
Africans especially after Klusener had, single-handedly, turned the
game in their favour.
At one stage, 20 runs had to be scored
off only 13 balls yet Klusener hit 15 of them from four of the balls
he faced. The equation became 5 runs off 5 balls. When Klusener hit a
four, victory seemed assured. Then the calamitous run out - and
In their other epic contest, which was to decide
whether the Australians took the next plane home or took their place
in the semi-final, the Aussies went in facing a South African target
of 271. After eleven overs they had slumped to 48 for three.
cometh the hour, cometh the man.
The man in question looks
like the archetypal gunfighter of a Western movie: narrowed eyes
screwed up in sheer concentration, thin, unsmiling lips. He even walks
with the bow-legged gait of a Hollywood cowboy. And he has the same
unequivocal determination to win.
This is Steve Waugh, the
Australian captain. In an inspired innings, and aided by Rickie
Ponting who scored 69 invaluable runs, Waugh carried his bat for 120
runs off the 110 balls he faced to beat the South Africans by five
It's a pity that, after such contests, one of these
two teams had to lose but, on Sunday, it will be Australia who face
the other finalists, Pakistan, at the home of cricket - Lords ground
It also means quite a loss of face for the South
African team who were so certain of being in the final - and even
winning the Cup - that the new South African president, Thabo Mbeki,
who has just succeeded Nelson Mandela, was put on stand-by to fly over
to London to watch the final and attend the presentation.
Mbeki, who is said to know little or nothing about the game, will, no
doubt be relieved - even if the cricket loving public of his country
are in total dejection.
They will be less concerned at
missing what could be a repeat performance at Lords of the appauling
behaviour of some of the Pakistani supporters who attended their
country's victory in a somewhat lacklustre match over New Zealand at
As usual, the more mindless of them kept up a
non-stop cacophony of meaningless noise while the exhibitionists among
them used every ridiculous antic to catch the attention of television
cameras, which duly obliged and encouraged their inanities.
could, with a strong effort, have been ignored but what has caused the
authorities some worries was the invasion of the pitch just before and
after the match ended.
A measure of the complete lack of
understanding of the game by some of these "fans" became
apparent when they charged on to the field thinking that Pakistan had
won when, in fact, a number of balls had to be bowled and when some
runs might still be scored.
As it was, there were anarchic
scenes when there was a pitch invasion even before the last run was
The problem is that, on English grounds, the
public have open access to the pitch whereas, on the sub-continent,
the spectators are kept behind wire netting or - even in cages - to
curb their unruly behaviour.
The idea that Lords could be the
scene of such mayhem should be unthinkable but is, in fact, possible
if the authorities don't take proper precautions.
OF THE SECOND WEEK OF THE "SUPER SIX":
beat Zimbabwe by 148 runs
New Zealand beat India by 5 wickets
beat South Africa by 5 wickets
RESULTS OF SEMI-FINALS
beat New Zealand by 9 wickets
Australia beat South Africa on