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The World Cup of the morons

By Raj Subramanyam
March 10, 2003 11:53 IST
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Cricket is more mental than physical.  The greats of the game advocate that every player on the ground must think as if he was the captain. Even when the player is in the pavilion, he must try to see what's happening on the field, what the fielding captain is scheming. This makes the batsman's task easier when he walks out to bat.

We have seen many schoolboy errors being committed in this World Cup. I am not listing the dropped catches, bad field placements and poor bowling choices or stupid team selections here. I am singling out four instances where, these acts have cost the respective teams their places in the SuperSix stage. I think it has even cost them the World Cup!

It gives me great pleasure to name the morons of the current World Cup.  These morons are not mere mortals -- they are experts at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Moron # 1: Mervyn Dillon

West Indies v Sri Lanka -- a crunch game for the West Indies. They are facing the last over and need 14 runs to victory with two wickets in hand. Ramnaresh Sarwan is on strike, and he is batting superbly on 41. I was telling my friend that if I were Dillon, I'd remove my pads. After all, singles won't do the job, and who better than Sarwan to hit the boundaries! Sarwan takes a huge swish and misses the first ball. Fair enough. He gets a four off the second. Four balls to go, and 10 runs to get in a do or die game. But Moron Dillon has other ideas. Sarwan taps the third ball back to the bowler, who promptly runs Dillon out. I couldn't believe it. Why did Dillon run? If he was scrambling back for the second run, to sacrifice his wicket for Sarwan, it could be understood. With only Pedro Collins to follow, it made no sense.

Moron # 2: Nicky Boje

Chasing 278, South Africa were 270 for 7 with 9 runs needed off the 49th over. SA were docked one over for slow bowling, hence this was their last over. Boje takes a single off the first ball and reaches the non-striker's end. Boje is on 21 off 24 balls. Klusener is caught in the deep off the third ball, the second being a dot ball. With only Ntini and Donald to follow, what was going on in Nicky Boje's mind, when he did not cross over to the striking end? In my mind, when the bowler was getting ready, Boje should have been thinking of the strike. Even if he was at the non-striker's end.  After all, he is a batsman. He has been pushed up to #3 innumerable times, and he never bowls his full complement of 10 overs !!!  There is an argument that Klusener was busy watching the ball and did not run.  Boje, to my mind, should have reached the crease and pushed Klusener out. Or did Boje think Ntini was better enough to get 8 runs off 3 balls.  It turned out in the end that they wasted 2 balls and Boje got a meaningless boundary off the last ball.

In the ultimate analysis, Boje dropped the cup for SA, not the rain. Just look at what those 4 points could have done for SA.

Moron # 3:  Ramnaresh Sarwan

Dillon and Sarwan tried their best to get the moron of the match award in the Sri Lanka vs West Indies game.  Having lost Dillon, run out, Sarwan had to score 10 runs in 3 balls to lead the WI to victory. He was facing Gunaratne, who was in the wilderness after bowling the 10th over of the game. And was now bowling the 50th. Sarwan batting on 45 was seeing the ball well. But inexplicably, he goes for the single that was on offer, and gives the strike to Pedro Collins. Collins, who had just come in, had not even faced a single ball! And had to score 10 off 2 balls.

Finally, they get two singles and hand over the match to Sri Lanka.  Much has been said about Sarwan's bravery when he returned helmetless to bat again.  But I can only give him the title of moron.  In the final context, Sarwan was responsible for the ouster of the West Indies -- not the rain.

Moron # 4: Shaun Pollock & the entire South African contingent (or whoever sent Boucher the target of 229)

The title goes to them for committing a cardinal schoolboy error. In school cricket in Mumbai, whenever a team bats second, the asking rate is calculated very conservatively. If they have 45 overs to play out, the rate is calculated on the basis of 43 overs. This gives the team a cushion of two overs. You would assume teams competing for the World Cup would be as conservative. But make way for the South Africans. They (including the coach, the physio, the manager, and everyone around) nailed down the figure of 229. All the talk about 229 in the Duckworth-Lewis system indicating the 'tie' score is nonsense. With Boucher going great guns and Klusener at the crease, I would have expected Pollock to send them the figure of 239. For that matter, I would have expected Pollock to be very careful with his wicket -- not get run out! It is common knowledge that the Duckworth-Lewis system penalizes wickets lost. With rain forecast, Pollock should have guarded his wicket more carefully.

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Raj Subramanyam