Cricket: Rainbow without crock of gold

ONE-DAY CRICKET is usually held to be a chaotic matter of implausible thrills and embarrassing spills. At Edgbaston yesterday there was no shortage of those - the game ended in a frenzy of twists and turns.

However, some of the episodes of play that gave the crowd goose pimples were slower moving. The game was at its most gripping when it ground to a halt as Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusener bowled half a dozen overs for three runs in the middle of Australia's innings as they seemed to have turned the match decisively South Africa's way.

It was extremely gripping stuff, every bit as edge of the seat as a bout of slogging. As the tension mounted, each new dot ball earned a nervous cheer. The fielders were decisively placed (three men square on the off side to Steve Waugh) and the bowlers speared it in with strenuous accuracy.

When South Africa batted, it was Shane Warne's turn to slip a noose around the innings. Ripping the ball like the Warne of old, not for the first time Shane stopped play. After a smooth start, South Africa spent 10 overs scoring just 12 runs. The pressure told: Gary Kirsten and Daryll Cullinan both succumbed to frazzled nerves, Kirsten with a crazy slog against Warne, Cullinan to an equally rash quick single that never was.

In the end, however, South Africa's performance was a tribute to Bob Woolmer's careful coaching of the side. England fans may well come to regret his reluctance to take on our struggling team. Four years ago, a few months before the last World Cup, he was coaching Jonty Rhodes in the Cape Town nets, teaching him how to flick a good length ball through the leg side. "The thing about Jonty," he said, "is that he's not really a batsman, he's a hockey player. We're trying to turn him into a batsman, but I don't know if he's got time. There's a young chap called Jacques Kallis who's truly something."

He must have smiled to himself yesterday afternoon, when the pair of them came together in a crisis and put on nearly a hundred to bring South Africa within sniffing distance of victory. It was a thorough vindication of some very long-term planning.

For South Africa, there are other long-term plans afoot. Indeed there has been a lot - perhaps too much - at stake in this tournament. The players know that the new government in Pretoria is resolved to impose energetic affirmative action on its sports teams. In the next World Cup (on South African soil) half the white players in this team will probably be replaced by black South Africans. This side represented both the last hurrah of the old regime, and the last chance for many of the individuals concerned.

That, in the end, was perhaps too much pressure for anyone to shoulder. The usual saying is that in tight games it is a question of who wants to win more. Yesterday, bravely though they tried, South Africa looked like the side that feared losing more. Their batsmen scrabbled for a foothold, but kept slipping on the steep slopes of their own high hopes. All they could do was add an amazing chapter to the book of heroic failures.

Once again, as in the World Cup semi-final three years ago, Australian steeliness, tempered by the brilliance of Warne, pulled a rabbit out of the hat.

It was impossible to count the twists in the tail end of this remarkable match. Warne's final over began with Pollock being dropped in the deep. He responded with a six and a four, and the rainbow nation started whooping and hollering and polishing its crock of Johannesburg gold. The pendulum swung three times in a single over. Kallis fell to his first moment of sloppiness, and the future looked Oz; Klusener hit his first ball for four, and it looked Zulu. When Fleming yorked Pollock, it was anybody's. Suddenly, and appropriately, the game had moved far beyond anything a coach could control. It was up to the players to seize the day. Klusener won the match for South Africa, then handed it back in confusion. It was too much for almost everyone.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a friendly, confident i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Primary Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: At Tradewind Recruitment we are currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: Physics Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment is currently working ...

Recruitment Genius: Case Manager - Occupational Therapist / Physiotherapist

£28000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee