What a game of cricket it was. So beautiful and so sad at the same time. Why is it that one semi final turns out to be the match of the World Cup. 1996 Australia vs West Indies, 1999 South Africa vs Australia. Man, what a game this was, with twists and turns, both man made and natural, both cricketing and non cricketing reasons (injuries, rain etc) that would have made Vyasa proud had he scripted it. Faf and Riley Roussow soaking up the pressure; the beauty of Trent Boult’s left arm outswingers [there is a poetry to left arm bowling isn’t there: both spin and pace 🙂 ], AB batting as if he was superman from a different planet, Davy Miller’s astounding finish, and then under lights, McCullum as usual in his Jambavaan like way, Grant Elliott’s nerveless knock, the sublime beauty of the leg break bowler Immy Tahir, Morne Morkel’s outstanding medium pace bowling; Faf Du Plessis’ brilliant catch; Eden Park, oh Eden Park, the tiny matchbox sized ground; the rain precisely when AB and Faf were batting brilliantly; Steyn injured: still diving around; Faf’s catch; missed catches and run outs galore; boy, what a game; after the 1999 semi finals between Australia and South Africa this was probably the greatest World Cup game. As much as I felt very happy for New Zealand, a tiny nation competing on the same footing with nations so many times more populous and with greater (human) resources, I also felt really sorry for the South Africans; for someone like Morne Morkel, to see a great fast bowler like him crying unabashedly at the end of the game was a pathos filled sight. The story of cricket is also the story of life: Imran Tahir moving to South Africa from Pakistan because he fell in love with a girl from South Africa. Grant Elliott moving from Johannesburg to New Zealand to better his cricketing fortunes. How must he have felt to knock the South Africans out. The sight of the substitute fielder Farhaan Behardien (what is his origin? is he Pashtun? Iranian?), either arms around his team mates belting out the anthem with gusto; fielding with his heart on his sleeve and exhorting his team mates during the drinks break shouting words of encouragement simply left me speechless. As somebody said about football which is also true of any sport (or anything else you inevst in): cricket is not about life and death: it is much more important than that 🙂
Let’s also not forget that this game was played in the best of spirits; no unnecessary bad mouthing, undue aggression etc; spirit of the game if you will, to use a well worn cliche.
It was just mighty unfortunate that the rain came at the wrong moment. SA were looking good for 350. Steyn and Philander getting injured also didn’t help. Also, superman genius that he is, maybe ABDV, like Sachin, dare I say it, is not as great a captain as he is a player. Maybe Faf can be captain? Never seen them so sad, not when they lost in 1999 or even 2011: to see some of the truly great players like Steyn, AB, Faf and Morkel crying at the end was truly sad. God bless these guys and the South African team.