Thursday, Mar 06, 2003
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Unfortunately this World Cup has been spoilt by the conduct of the Western powers. An eagerly awaited competition that took a great deal of organising has been ruined by the posturing of senior teams.
England and New Zealand must realise the consequences of their self-indulgence and timidity. Their boycott has had a ripple effect that has allowed two weak teams to secure places in the last six.
Meanwhile strong sides pack their bags for home. England has been knocked out, a fate richly deserved. Nasser Hussain's team has been unpopular and his country's cricket lacks leadership.
The idea that Hussain has become a moral leader is preposterous. England did not fulfil its obligations. Its absurd withdrawal distorted the competition and allowed Zimbabwe to reach the second round.
Mr. Mugabe must be laughing.
Certainly England cannot expect African teams to tour their country this winter. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. The war with Iraq, and the devastation of its people, has turned the island into a target for terrorists.
As far as visitors are concerned Harare is safer than Bondi or Heathrow. If these feeble attitudes are universally applied sporting contact will cease.
Amongst the eliminated teams South Africa has least to complain about. Shaun Pollock's side did not beat any of its ranked opponents. They did trounce Kenya by ten wickets but they are a poor side.
Cricketers should be angry about the boycott. These World Cups only happen every four years.
Pollock's fellows cannot grumble about the weather because they misread the sheet giving details of the targets set by the admirable Duckworth-Lewis. Sri Lanka and the umpires stayed out in the rain longer than was needed. Mark Boucher thought his team was ahead as the rain became heavier.
Sadly the West Indians must go home. After its bright start Carl Hooper's team deserved better luck.
Africa needed a stirring showing from them to advance the game because soccer and athletics continue to dominate. After a dazzling performance in Cape Town where Brian Lara upset his hosts with an inspired century, the men in maroon seemed capable of beating anyone.
Alas their challenge petered out in a lacklustre match played before a crowd boosted by half-interested schoolchildren on a windswept ground located in the outskirts of the diamond town of Kimberly whose heyday occurred a hundred years ago.
It's a shame the West Indians have not prospered. Lara and company are heroes hereabouts and the sleepy left-hander was given a warm reception as he strolled to the crease after the openers had added 122.
Even the better behaved boys in the temporary stands stopped singing to welcome him. Unfortunately the West Indians never did recapture the form seen in the first match and lost to New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
Nonetheless they played enough good cricket to suggest they belong in the last six and possibly the semifinals. Certainly they are incomparably stronger than Kenya and proved it with a decisive victory over the minnows. If Kenya is worth Test status then so are Scotland and Ireland.
Rain cost West Indies two points against Bangladesh and allowed Kenya to advance after an upset win and four points presented by the Kiwis. Losing the toss in Cape Town did not help, though strong teams overcome setbacks of this sort.
Poor selections were partly to blame. Not till this last match where weaknesses confronted. Not before time Shivnarine Chanderpaul was sent out to open the batting and a place found for Marlon Samuels. Belatedly Jermaine Lawson was given his chance and the fastest bowler in the Carribean promptly put several Kenyans on their backsides in a searing spell that included some of the swiftest balls ever sent down. Alas Ramnaresh Sarwan could not play, an accomplished and courteous cricketer who was valiant in defeat against the Lankans.
West Indies will be missed, especially Lara, Sarwan and Chanderpaul who played some fine cricket. South Africa's elimination will please only the narrow-minded. Unfortunately the Kiwis have reached the next round, though without many points. England has gone. It's hard to see the Super Sixes being much fun. Kenya has points in the bag and could reach the semifinals. It is nonsense and those responsible should be ashamed of themselves.
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