Cricket World Cup Memories
SRI LANKA will be the latest team to face up to the
Australian juggernaut as the Cricket World Cup Super Six stage gets
under way today, and, though underdogs for the match, they are one
of the few sides able to upset the world champions.
The Sri Lankans were the last side to taste victory over Ricky
Ponting’s men and have proved to be a regular thorn in the
Australian side, going back to the 1996 World Cup final and more
recently the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final in Colombo last
They also beat Australia during the VB Series this winter when they
won in Sydney, although since then the rampant Aussies have embarked
on a record 12-match unbeaten run which has given them maximum
points to carry through to the Super Six.
Today’s game at Centurion also marks Sri Lanka’s first encounter
with Australian batsman Darren Lehmann since he was banned for five
matches by the ICC in January after being overheard making racist
remarks following his dismissal during the match between the two
sides in Brisbane.
Sri Lanka, though, are keen to put the matter behind them. "We have
no problem with Darren Lehmann," stressed coach Dav Whatmore.
Australia enter the second phase full of confidence and believe they
can retain the trophy unbeaten. They would be only the second team,
after the West Indies in 1975 and 1979, to mount a successful
Ponting said the close win over England on Sunday was the perfect
work-out for his team. "It was good for us to be stretched," he
said. "We were down and out, but good sides bounce back and we
managed to win the game without playing anywhere near our best."
Looking ahead to today’s match, Ponting said: "When Sri Lanka are on
top they’re a very dangerous side and that’s something we have to
Australia have been forced into one change: all-rounder Andrew
Symonds is out with a groin injury and will be replaced by Ian
India meet Kenya in today’s other Super Six match, but are already
looking to the last four, concerned the toss of a coin may decide
their fate. Sourav Ganguly’s men could end up playing in the
day-night semi-final in Durban and believe these matches have
favoured the team batting first - India beat England convincingly in
Durban, while England enjoyed an emphatic defeat of Pakistan.
World Cup chief Dr Ali Bacher has promised a response to their
request to revert back to a day match by Saturday afternoon.
India are clear favourites at Newlands, but surprise package Kenya
did enjoy a stunning 70-run win over them at Port Elizabeth in
Meanwhile, Scotland’s hopes of appearing at the next World Cup in
2007 will be enhanced if Dr Bacher gets his way.
The South African wants to see the number of competing nations
increased from 14 to 16, providing two more places for so-called
minnows and opening the door wide for the Scots who finished just
behind Holland, Canada and Namibia for the current event.
WITH the loss of Shane Warne now looking like
nothing more than a minor setback, it comes as little surprise that
Australia - the world champions and with a record 12 consecutive
one-day wins to their credit - enter the Super Six stage of
cricket’s World Cup in pole position.
Discovering at the last minute that you must compete in a major
tournament without your greatest ever spin bowler (Warne was sent
home after failing a drugs test) would be enough to send panic
through the ranks of most teams. But not the Aussies, who now have a
great chance of plotting their own route right to the final, which
takes place on 23 March.
With the pool stages now done and dusted, Australia go through to
the second phase with a maximum of 12 points. One more win - they
face Sri Lanka in Centurion on Friday in the opening match of the
second phase before taking on Kenya and New Zealand - and they will
be heading for the final four.
In no mood to rest on their laurels, Australia coach John Buchanan
has already made it clear that his side are eager to retain their
momentum. Further victories will not only keep up team morale but
also allow the Australians to sidestep the second semi-final, a day-nighter
in Durban where the toss could favour one side significantly.
While Pakistan and England joined South Africa and West Indies in
the airport departure lounge yesterday, all of them wringing
rainwater from their cricket flannels, unheralded Kenya and Zimbabwe
were preparing for the next round.
Steve Tikolo’s Kenyans, yet to earn Test status, were beaten by 142
runs by Carl Hooper’s side yesterday yet, extraordinarily, will go
into the second round as Australia’s nearest challengers on ten
Opening batsman Chris Gayle smashed 119 off 151 balls to help the
Windies amass a respectable total of 246 for seven in the Group B
match before the Caribbean bowlers demolished the Kenyans for a
miserable 104 inside 36 overs.
Vasbert Drakes captured career-best figures of five for 33 including
three wickets in eight balls, and Jermaine Lawson took two wickets
on his first appearance of the tournament, at times bowling in
excess of 150 km per hour.
West Indies captain Hooper said: "No disrespect to the Kenyans or
the Zimbabweans but obviously they are not two of the strongest
teams in their groups, but that’s just a reflection of the rules we
"There’s nothing we can do about it," he added. "All we could do was
try and finish the tournament on a high and we did that today."
Kenya were helped by a shock win over Sri Lanka and a ‘forfeit win’
after New Zealand refused to travel to Nairobi over security
With teams taking four points for each win over fellow group
qualifiers into the second stage, as well as one point from each win
against eliminated sides, India will start with eight points in the
Super Six with Sri Lanka half a point behind.
New Zealand and Zimbabwe, meanwhile, have everything to do, with
four and three-and-a-half points respectively. The Kiwis , though,
could still make the last four with two wins in the second phase.
Rain, of course, hammered the final nail into England’s hopes of
Zimbabwe, who also made the second round in 1999, beat Nasser
Hussain’s team to the final qualifying spot when their Group A game
against Pakistan in Bulawayo was washed out, giving the home team
two extra points and taking them to 14, two ahead of England.
Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak, however, reminded England - who
arguably played a part in their own downfall - that they had chosen
not to play in Harare because of security concerns. "It’s not in our
hands what happens with the weather, and England didn’t come and
play that match," he said. "Those two factors have obviously played
a big part in us getting through ... but that’s beyond our control
On Monday, hosts South Africa were knocked out of the tournament
when their crunch game against Sri Lanka ended in a tie as rain cut
short the home side’s run chase in cruel fashion, while earlier in
the tournament, West Indies, also eliminated on Monday, lost two
certain points in a washed-out game against Bangladesh.
The six-week tournament, expanded to 14 teams including four minnow
sides, has, to the frustration of many, not allowed for reserve days
for rain-affected first-round games.
Australia have had no real rain problems. They survived their only
scare when the Netherlands, determined to enjoy every minute of
their World Cup, agreed to play them, on a wet, sub-standard pitch
The rain could yet play a role in the Super Sixes, but those matches
have reserve days.
ALL is not yet lost for England - although their
hopes of qualifying for the World Cup’s Super Sixes are now out of
India joined Australia in the next stage after beating Pakistan on
Saturday - leaving just one place up for grabs.
That result gave England hope - even though they lost to Ricky
Ponting’s champions yesterday by two wickets.
Competition rules state that in the event of teams finishing on
equal points, the right to play in the Super Six stage will be
decided primarily on most wins in the group matches - if that is
level, the winner between the teams will be placed higher.
If more than two teams finish on equal points and wins, however, and
each has beaten one of the others, the team with the higher net run
rate in the group matches claims superiority.
Victory for Zimbabwe in their final match against Pakistan tomorrow
will guarantee Nasser Hussain’s team return home early because the
Zimbabweans have a forfeited win over England behind them.
But England could still go through if Pakistan win in the final
match of the pool.
That scenario would leave them level on 12 points with Zimbabwe and
Pakistan with each side having won one apiece in the breakdown of
games between the three.
England would then have to hope their net run rate - which is +0.82
- was the highest .
INDIA sounded out their intentions as genuine World
Cup contenders with a famous win over old foes Pakistan at
SuperSport Park yesterday.
Led by a masterful 98 from maestro batsman Sachin Tendulkar, the
Indians took the first match played between the two sides in three
years with ease, recording a six-wicket win with 26 balls to spare.
The victory secured India’s place in the Super Sixes, qualifying
from Pool A along with Australia, but left Pakistan’s hopes of
staying in the competition hanging by a thread.
They must now hope for a comprehensive victory over Zimbabwe in
Bulawayo on Tuesday and that England lose by a big margin to
Australia today for them to qualify on net run rate.
Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh sealed the victory with a magnificent
partnership of 99 off 114 balls when Tendulkar departed just short
of what would have been his 35th one-day century.
Singh scored an exceptional half-century at exactly the right time
off just 53 balls with six fours, while Dravid hit the winning
boundary to finish with a magnificent 44 not out. Tendulkar carved
his way past 12,000 one-day international runs in his innings and
recorded his 60th half-century in quick time, falling just short of
what would have been the third-quickest century in World Cup
Tendulkar took on the Pakistani bowling from the beginning, putting
on a 50 partnership with Virender Sehwag in just five overs before
Pakistan captain Waqar Younis struck twice in as many balls to give
his side a glimmer of hope.
Sehwag was on 21 off just 14 balls before he hit one off Waqar on
the up and sent the ball straight to Shahid Afridi for the
Pakistanis to claim their first wicket.
Captain Saurav Ganguly went next ball, being trapped lbw for a duck
as he looked to get a harsh decision against him with a ball that
looked too high. But it did not stop Tendulkar, who hit Shoaib
Ahktar for a massive six in the bowler’s opening over to show his
He then put on a century partnership in the same amount of balls
with Mohammad Kaif before the latter played a ball that was way
outside his off stump onto his stumps to be removed for 35 off 60
Tendulkar eventually succumbed when he received a lifting delivery
from Shoaib Ahktar which he lifted to Younis Khan at point.
But he could easily have been out earlier, as he was dropped by
Abdur Razzaq when he was on 32 and again in a tough
caught-and-bowled chance by Shahid Afridi when he was on 89 not out.
Razzaq had to leave the field after he split the webbing in his hand
in trying to take the catch while Pakistan were also without their
first choice wicketkeeper Rashid Latif after he went to hospital for
precautionary X-rays after being hit on the head while batting
earlier in the day. Latif was later cleared after undergoing a
CAT-scan but still felt dizzy, according to team officials.
Pakistan’s bowlers all suffered at the hands of India’s batsmen,
with captain Waqar Younis claiming two wickets but at a cost of 71
runs in 8.4 overs and Shahid Afridi 1-45 in nine overs.
Earlier, Pakistan opener Saeed Anwar scored his fourth century
against India as his side set a what looked like a
highly-competitive target of 273 for seven.
However Inzamam ul-Haq’s poor form continued as he was run out.
Inzamam made his intentions clear at the start, lofting Anil Kumble
back over his head for four.
But Inzamam was left stranded by a perfect throw from Virender
Sehwag from backward square-leg as he started off too early and was
sent back by partner Anwar to be out for six. He has now only scored
16 runs in his five World Cup matches and faced just 26 balls in the
tournament so far.
Inzamam will hope to put that right next week and that his side can
also yet resurrect their disappointing World Cup campaign, but for
India it is very much a case of so far, so good.
VIOLENCE erupted between Hindus and Muslims last
night after India defeated its arch rival Pakistan in a World Cup
At least one person was killed and three others were injured, while
shops and cars were burned.
The violence broke out in India’s western state of Gujarat, where
the country’s worst religious clashes in a decade left more than
1,000 people dead last year.
Tension has simmered since, and divisions between Hindus and Muslims
have remained acute.
Police fired gunshots after they were attacked by a group of
Muslims, apparently angered by Hindus who lit firecrackers and
handed out sweets in Ahmadabad’s Shapur area to celebrate India’s
victory in the crucial match in South Africa. A Muslim protester,
named as Zubair Mohammed Ismail, was killed as the police opened
fire on the crowd.
Rioting was reported in at least six neighbourhoods in Ahmadabad,
the state’s largest city.
An unidentified man was rushed to a hospital after being stabbed,
Two police officers were injured by stones thrown by the Muslim mob,
a spokesman added.
Meanwhile, shops and vehicles were burned by rioters in several
other parts of Ahmadabad.
Siddharth Khatri, the deputy commissioner of police, said last
night: “The violence began between 10.30pm and 10.45pm. Police
lobbed tear-gas shells to disperse the mob.”
In Vadodara city, police officers used tear-gas in three areas to
disperse rioting mobs after three cars and a restaurant owned by a
Muslim man were burned.
India is a secular nation where more than 80% of the population are
Hindus. However, many Hindu nationalists accuse Muslims, the largest
religious minority, of secretly backing Pakistan, India’s Islamic
neighbour and its bitter rival in three wars.
India was divided in 1947 by British colonialists, who carved out
Pakistan as a new nation. However, millions of Muslim citizens
remained in India.
Two of the countries’ three wars have been fought over the Himalayan
region of Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan,
though both nations claim the entire area.
KENYA threatened to alter the pattern of cricket
history yesterday when a dramatic and unexpected victory over Sri
Lanka propelled them to within touching distance of being the first
"emerging nation" to qualify for the Super Six stage of the World
Emulating their 1996 triumph over West Indies and Bangladesh’s
victory four years ago over Pakistan, the non-Test playing nation
dismissed the 1996 world champions for 157 after posting 210 for
nine. Leg-spinner Collins Obuya claimed a Kenyan record of five
wickets for 24 as he destroyed the Sri Lankans’ batting.
The 53-run triumph was particularly poignant because of its venue.
Nairobi was hosting its first World Cup match, and it will remain a
solitary occasion because of New Zealand’s refusal to visit the
Kenyan capital on safety grounds, which may yet backfire on Stephen
Ironically, that snub could turn out to be the catalyst that propels
East African cricket forward. Steve Tikolo’s side now lead Pool B
with 12 points, thanks to the four that were forfeited by New
Zealand, and victory over Bangladesh on Saturday would lead them
into a potentially decisive clash with West Indies a week today.
Yesterday’s result threw open the outcome of Pool B, as the
previously unbeaten Sri Lankans still have to play West Indies and
South Africa. Should Kenya finish within the top three, it could
even be at the expense of their fellow- hosts.
AUSTRALIA look head and shoulders above the rest of
the competition at the World Cup after a second crushing win over
powerful Asian opposition in a week.
Just four days after putting Pakistan to the sword, Australia proved
even more clinical at Centurion Park yesterday as they crushed India
by nine wickets.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting was delighted with the way that his
bowlers, particularly Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee, intimidated the
"Bowling short of a length at them was a definite plan, and it
worked very well today," said Ponting. "Their players had struggled
on the recent tour of New Zealand, and we wanted to continue with
the way they had bowled to them - fairly short and aggressive.
"The tactic was designed to unsettle the batsmen, and it did it
fairly well, as it didn’t let any of their batsmen get away from
Australia, the current title-holders, controlled the Pool A contest
from the start as they strangled India’s innings, and limited them
to their lowest World Cup score of 125.
Such a total was never likely to trouble prolific openers Adam
Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, who set about the target with typical
relish to wrap up another four points with more than 27 overs to
A lapse of concentration that saw Gilchrist stumped by Rahul Dravid
for 48 proved only a temporary blip as Hayden, who finished unbeaten
on 45, and Ponting (24 not out) finished the job.
It was yet another disappointing performance from the out-of-sorts
Indians following their unimpressive success over Holland earlier.
India failed to cope with the Australian attack, and particularly
man of the match Gillespie, and they were soon made to regret their
decision to bat first.
Speedster Lee applied pressure right from the start, and had them in
trouble early on as he twice broke through to have captain Sourav
Ganguly and Virender Sehwag caught behind by wicketkeeper Gilchrist.
"India’s weakness is sheer pace and bounce, and if anyone will get
that out of the wicket, it will be Brett Lee," Ponting observed. "I
wanted him to blast out a couple of their top order, and he did
that, which set us up from there. Glenn McGrath then bowled a couple
of maidens in a row just as Jason Gillespie came on, and we really
tightened things up against them."
Rahul Dravid, whose ability to score runs while in the side as
wicketkeeper remains a matter of debate, followed soon after when he
played on to the impressive Gillespie. Yuvraj Singh followed
immediately as he was trapped leg-before for a duck by McGrath, and
when Mohammad Kaif hooked Gillespie into the diving Andrew Symonds’
hands at deep square- leg, India were reeling on 50 for five.
Sachin Tendulkar alone survived the top-order onslaught, and looked
to have at last found a reliable partner when Dinesh Mongia came to
the crease. But Tendulkar, too, after a patient 36, was to succumb
when Gillespie - who finished with figures of three for 13 - pinned
him in front, and at 80 for seven after Mongia had gone soon after,
India’s prospects looked bleak.
Harbhajan Singh helped to take the total into three figures with a
brief flurry that saw him hit four fours and a six in a rapid 28,
but Brad Hogg put an end to his slogging with another lbw decision.
Darren Lehmann got in on the act to remove Zaheer Khan in similar
fashion before executing the run-out of Javagal Srinath with a
brilliant direct hit to end the innings after 41.4 overs - another
imposing performance with the ball from Australia.
"The key is that our bowling line-up is flexible, and we can use
them all at different times and in different situations.
"It was great to see Jason, who has been a new ball bowler for so
long, come on and do a fantastic job as first change. It says a lot
about him and the way he has developed, and the same is true of the
way Brett performed when he opened the bowling."
With an asking rate of just 2.52 per over, the prolific Gilchrist
and Hayden partnership was never likely to feel the pressure. They
steadily began to crank up the run rate with Hayden being
particularly savage with straight sixes off Khan and Harbhajan.
Gilchrist falling to Harbhajan two short of his half-century hardly
held up proceedings, as Ponting came in to finish off the job.
The skipper was pleased with the way his side performed, but will
allow no complacency in the ranks.
"We have played particularly well in these two matches [against
Pakistan and India]," Ponting said. "We knew they might be among our
toughest, so we geared ourselves up to making sure we were somewhere
near our best for them. In 1999, we made a slow start, and we spoke
about not wanting to do that again, so we focused on doing well in
these two games.
"We have done that now, but we can’t take things easy: we have just
got to keep working and improving."
Australia’s next match is against the Netherlands in Potchefstroom
ANY last hope that this week’s ill-fated World Cup
cricket match between England and Zimbabwe might take place as
planned appeared to have been dashed last night when the England
team management made it clear the players would not travel to
Another day of acrimony and confusion ended with Tim Lamb, the chief
executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, announcing in Cape
Town that fresh safety concerns had persuaded the players to stay
away from Zimbabwe.
Death threats received from a group calling itself the Sons and
Daughters of Zimbabwe had proved too much for the players and
persuaded them to abandon any hope of travelling to the fixture.
The ECB yesterday submitted a new, formal, request to the
International Cricket Council asking for the match to be moved to a
But there was continuing uncertainty in the team’s camp in Cape Town
later after Mr Lamb stressed the ECB was still waiting for an
official response from the ICC, due this morning, before a
definitive decision could be made. He also took a swipe at the world
cricket body for leaking private correspondence from the ECB -
including yesterday’s request to have the game moved - to the press.
The ICC has taken a consistently hard line against England’s appeals
and is not expected to change its approach today.
The statement from the ICC is expected to turn down the request to
have the match moved, handing the result and all four World Cup
points to Zimbabwe.
The loss of all the points will make it difficult for the team to
qualify for the later stages of the tournament and the English
cricket authorities will also be fined, possibly as much as £10
million, to cover lost television coverage and sponsorship.
England’s scheduled home matches against Zimbabwe in the summer are
expected to be cancelled in a tit-for-tat move by the Zimbabwean
cricket authorities and the money-spinning five-Test series against
South Africa this summer is also in doubt.
This week’s fixture has been overshadowed for weeks by wrangling
over threats to player safety because of the turbulent political
situation in Zimbabwe. There have also been calls for England to
boycott the game in protest at President Robert Mugabe’s regime
GOVERNMENT pressure has ensured that the South
African team, who included two black players for the first test
against Sri Lanka three months ago, now have five in a World Cup
squad of 15, who open their campaign in Cape Town today against the
The affirmative-action policy, together with the selectors’ decision
to include an out-of-sorts Lance Klusener and all-rounder Andrew
Hall, means the absence of an additional specialist batsmen. That
cost Graeme Smith his place, and he responded by smashing 151 in a
record-breaking opening stand with Herschelle Gibbs at Newlands in
the shadow of Table Mountain in the second test against Pakistan
The bowling attack are also hanging by a thread, and the South
African squad have returned from an Outward Bound course designed to
build team spirit. It included orienteering and crossing
fast-flowing rivers on empty oil drums, and left the notoriously
fragile fast bowler Allan Donald nursing a strained buttock - and
critics wondering why the core of a squad that had been living in
one another’s pockets for months needed to lift their morale in the
The answer could well be found in the actions of Donald and Jonty
Rhodes, and the bizarre dedication of their World Cup campaign to
the memory of the disgraced former captain, Hansie Cronje, who was
killed in a plane crash last year - a move that initially annoyed
coach Eric Simons.
"We had a long chat about it, and now I’m much happier," Simons
revealed. "Jonty said that Hansie had done so much for him, and that
it was a very personal gesture. It isn’t a team dedication, simply a
personal one from Jonty and Allan."
But the team’s former psychologist expressed concern about "this
hankering after Hansie". Dr Ken Jennings, who quit his role 18
months ago, declared: "The pair may be expressing some concern for
the present leadership of the side. The Cronje issue still has the
potential to divide the side on some level in the future, especially
in stressful situations."
To most observers Cronje’s legacy is related to his involvement in
match-fixing which, according to former Pakistan test player, Safraz
Nawaz, is still alive and well. "The gambling mafia is active, and
the World Cup cannot be held without match-fixing," he maintained.
That view was supported by the Indian police chief, KK Paul, who
trapped Cronje during South Africa’s tour of the subcontinent three
years ago. Paul claimed that his investigations were still being
hampered by the unwillingness of South African officials to
co-operate. "The match-fixing case is very much alive," maintained
If that were not enough baggage for the South Africans to cart
around, a fickle public headed by their most mercurial fan, sports
minister Ngconde Balfour, serve only to raise the stakes. The noble
tenet that sport and politics should not mix is not taken too
seriously here, and Balfour enjoys a profile greater than any sports
minister should be allowed.
He is a teddy bear-like figure with an engaging manner, always
revelling in the company of top sportsmen and squeezing into team
photographs whenever he can. But six months ago, he threw the sport
into turmoil with a racially-charged diatribe, claiming that he does
not go to Newlands to see players such as Mark Boucher and Jacques
Kallis, but Makhaya Ntini and Paul Adams.
It was prompted by the United Cricket Board of South Africa’s
announcement in July that they were planning to scrap racial quotas.
Balfour responded by telling the sport’s authorities that "if it was
not the World Cup next year, I would disband cricket".
But domestic cricket does not need disbanding: it’s already on its
knees. Such is the funding crisis that provincial cricket’s two main
competitions are propped up by the subscription television channel,
Supersport, who have exclusive rights to all domestic competition,
including the once highly competitive Currie Cup.
That was completed in October - weeks before the start of the
traditional season - and the only first-class match that has taken
place during the main season, other than tests, was South Africa A
against the Pakistan tourists in December.
The future looks even bleaker because Balfour is attempting to wrest
control of sports programming from Supersport by introducing
legislation that protects the interests of free-to-air broadcasters.
As noble as that sounds, cricket officials claim the inevitable drop
in income from TV fees will bankrupt them.
While Balfour may be a laughing stock, the overwhelming power of the
South African government ensures that he holds great sway. Rumours
abound of phone calls that he makes to team officials during
international games, and before the third test against Australia in
Sydney 13 months ago, he was behind the last-minute replacement of a
young, white batsman, Jacques Rudolph - who was denied his debut
because the team were perceived to be "too white".
Only results will tell whether political interference or the ghost
of Hansie have fatally undermined South Africa’s cricketers’ effort
to emulate the rugby Springbok counterparts.
So who will be crowned World Champions on March
23rd? Often in international one-day cricket it pays to side with
the outsiders due to the unpredictable nature of the game. However,
I believe it is frighteningly simple as there are only two sides who
can possibly win the World Cup - Australia or South Africa. As 7-4
and 11-4 shots the bookmakers concur but I don’t believe those
prices reflect the vast superiority between these two sides and the
rest of the World.
India (best price: 10-1 with Bet365) are in the same mould as the
under-achieving Spanish football team, Pakistan (10-1 with VC) are
world cricket’s mavericks and unable to string enough wins together,
England (22-1 with BetDirect) aren’t good enough and Sri Lanka (20-1
with Skybet) have no chance on South Africa’s bouncy pitches. New
Zealand (12-1 with Skybet) are being well touted to succeed in the
World Cup but they lack the class to win it and have an appalling
record in South Africa over the last ten years - played 12, won 0,
tied 2, lost 10.
Of the outsiders the most interesting team are the West Indies (16-1
generally available), who have been written off by the layers. Under
Carl Hooper the West Indies are emerging from the doldrums and were
impressive in the 4-3 series win in India late last year. They are
tempting at 16-1 each-way but, as potential semi-finalists, they
make a better bet as a buy on the tournament spreads.
The fact is that Australia have a psychological hold over every
other cricketing nation - they are often in charge before a ball is
Even South Africa have a habit of folding against the Aussies.
Therefore even at 7-4 with Coral Australia look a great bet to win
the Cricket World Cup: they have the sign over South Africa, who in
turn are a distance clear of the rest.
HIS light-hearted nickname ‘Danny Boy’ is in stark
contrast to his murky past as the head of Robert Mugabe’s dreaded
Dan Stannard, the ruddy-faced Irishman once regarded as the most
powerful white man in Zimbabwe and one of Mugabe’s chief enforcers,
has once again emerged from the shadows.
This time, however, Stannard has not been ordered to root out
political dissidents under the auspices of the dreaded Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO). Instead, he has resurfaced as the
man tasked with assessing the safety of the foreign cricketers who
are due to play World Cup matches in the strife-ridden African
nation later this month. Until recently Stannard was manager of the
Zimbabwe cricket team. These days, the man who once saved Mugabe’s
life, is the team’s security manager.
Last week the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced that the
controversial matches in Harare and Bulawayo should go ahead despite
fears that players could be attacked, kidnapped or caught up in
violent demonstrations against Mugabe’s regime. The decision to
press ahead with the six matches, including an England fixture
against Zimbabwe on February 13, was based on an assessment by the
American security consultants Kroll. ICC chief executive Malcolm
Speed, said: "The Kroll report, which was discussed at length, was
categorical in its ultimate assessment that it is safe and secure
for all six matches in Zimbabwe to proceed as planned."
However, Stannard, one of Mugabe’s most trusted former aides, is
widely believed to have been working behind the scenes to persuade
ICC inspectors and senior executives from Kroll that foreign
cricketers will not be in danger.
"We’re safe as houses," Stannard insists, adding that security
preparations in Zimbabwe have been first rate.
However, Amnesty’s Zimbabwe desk officer, Sharmala Naidoo, who has
just made her own tour of the country, is sceptical of the
authorities’ claims: "The [Zimbabwean] people who are re-assuring
the England team are the same people who have been arresting human
rights workers and journalists for years."
Last night a spokesman for the ICC, which commissioned the Kroll
report, refused to confirm or deny that it or Kroll had been
involved in talks with Stannard.
In the 1990s Stannard served as an intermediary between Mugabe and
worried white farmers, assuring them they had nothing to fear from
Little is known about his early years, other than the fact that the
65-year-old has spent most of life in Zimbabwe, Rhodesia and South
Stannard’s long friendship with Robert Mugabe started in 1980 during
the country’s first one man, one vote elections. The former British
South African Police was drafted into the CIO as the fledgling state
prepared for black majority rule. Members of the CIO were originally
trained by the East German secret police, the Stasi.
Stannard was brought in to train a new generation of agents who
infiltrated rival political parties, broke up anti-government
demonstrations and destabilised political groups.
White soldiers boasted they would kill Mugabe before British
Governor Lord Soames could install him as the country’s first black
leader. And, just days into the election campaign, Mugabe was the
target of an assassination attempt.
In February 1980, Stannard was driving Mugabe towards the Midland
town, Masvingo. Suddenly, he swerved off the road. Moments later the
highway on which they would have been driving exploded into a sheet
Stannard’s actions not only guaranteed him rapid advancement through
the ranks of the CIO but, more importantly, earned Mugabe’s trust.
He was appointed head of the internal wing of the CIO, which
opposition parties claim has been responsible for the arrest and
torture of hundreds of human rights workers, black politicians and
journalists over the past two years.
Stannard went on to work for two of the CIO’s most efficient
"opposition hunters", Emmerson Mnangagwa, minister of state for
security, and Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, the head of the organisation.
It was the CIO which masterminded the invasion of Matabeleland by
Mugabe’s North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to crush rebellion by
guerrillas loyal to the ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo, whom the president
had accused of planning to overthrow the government. It has been
claimed up to 50,000 civilians were killed.
Mugabe, who effectively turned his country into a one-party state as
a result, has refused to apologise to survivors, describing the dead
as "dissidents" bent on overthrowing his new government.
In 1987 Stannard was awarded Zimbabwe’s highest honour, the Order of
Valour. Interestingly, there was no citation for the medal.
In 1996 Stannard retired as head of the internal unit of the CIO. He
acted as a private business consultant, urging white farmers to
ignore the anti-white rhetoric emerging from Harare Some of the same
farmers were to become victims of the state-orchestrated land-grabs
by squatters and ‘war veterans’.
Then, in March 2000, in what appeared to be a strange twist,
Stannard was appointed manager of the Zimbabwe cricket team on a
three-month tour to the UK. Farm invasions were under way and
players were worried that their families back home would be killed.
Stannard was expected to smooth the situation by assuring his young
side that all would be well.
Asked at that time how he felt about being a cricket team manager
and a former head of the CIO, he replied: " As far as my appointment
as team manager is concerned, there is nothing sinister. It has
nothing to do with my past - I just love cricket."
So does his former boss. Mugabe is often seen sipping tea, eating
cake and clapping at Harare Sports Club while revelling in the
magical thwack of leather against willow. He once said: "I want all
my young men to be gentlemen and play cricket."
Nevertheless, Mugabe’s ambition of hosting World Cup matches may yet
be thwarted. The fixtures could still be switched at the very last
moment, if the security situation in Zimbabwe deteriorates. In the
meantime, Stannard continues to push the party line, commenting
recently: "It is as safe here now as it ever has been." In a country
such as Zimbabwe that isn’t saying much