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June 21, 1999


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The good, bad and ugly

R Mohan

It is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. June 21 would have been the ideal day for the Cup final because there would have been more hours of sunshine. The booby prize of the World Cup goes to Pakistan for making June 20 the shortest playing day in a final the world.

There is no prize for guessing which was the most one-sided World Cup final of seven, no tickets to the final of 2003 to be given away to the winners.

There are also no prizes for guessing which was the best final since there has been nothing to match the excitement of the first ever final in which the Aussies came out second best against the Windies but one-day cricket was the clear winner.

The last ball having been bowled in the last World Cup of the millennium, now is the time to present a list of events, some memorable and others not so memorable: Greatest moment: Steve Waugh lifting the trophy at Lord's and trying to look pleased enough for the television cameras.

Worst moment: Lance Klusener and Allan Donald ending up in the same crease when all they needed to do was to be in their own.

Best astrologer: Shane Warne, for predicting the Gibbs catch that was not a catch and the Australian win that was really a win.

Worst astrologer: The one in India, who went to town with the prediction that India and Pakistan would meet in the final, and that Pakistan would win if the match finished on June 20, and India would win if the match spilled over to June 21. He could at least have got the weather on June 20 right.

Best innings: Steve Waugh's 120 not out against South Africa, which was an enactment of Great Escape episode one and which did as much for an Australian win as Kapil Dev's 175 not out did for India.

Worst innings: Allan Donald's run-out for nil without facing a ball which beat even the longer innings of Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad against Zimbabwe.

Best captain: Steve Waugh, for believing his team could win seven matches in a row and take the World Cup. He was almost right. They won six-and-a-half and took the cup.

Worst captain: Mohammad Azharuddin, for stating the obvious that his team needed to win all three matches in the Super Six and promptly ended up losing two. His feat matched that of the Scottish captain George Salmond, for choosing to bat against the West Indies on a green top at Leicester.

Over employed officials: All umpires, for putting out both their hands so often for 'wides' they could have asked the ICC for permission to carry zinc cream advertisements on their sleeves.

Under employed officials: Messrs Duckworth and Lewis, whose computer print-outs carried worthless pieces of information on terribly readjusted targets that never came into play.

Smartest punter: The one who bought the wides in spread betting at pounds 100 per point and ended up richer by pounds 7,00,000 (about Rs.4.9 crores).

Worst punter: All those who backed India and the West Indies in the hope they would somehow make the last four, or those in India, who believed that none of the three favourites for the World Cup would win - South Africa, Australia and Pakistan.

Best ball of the tournament: A tie between Shoaib Aakhtar's yorker to Stephen Fleming and Shane Warne's leg break to Herschelle Gibbs.
There is, thankfully, no Duckworth and Lewis method to break this tie.

Worst ball of the tournament: Many of them may have been bowled by young Ajit Agarkar, who ended up with none for 70 in nine overs against Zimbabwe, when one boundary less may even have won the match for a desperate side.

Fastest bowler: Shaoib Akhtar who sent one rocket down at 96 mph past the somewhat unreliable speed radar.

Slowest bowler: Shane Warne, who sent down one ball at 49 mph and still got it past an unreliable batsman.

Most cruel comment: A sledging Steve Waugh telling the erring fielder Herschelle Gibbs - ''So how does it feel dropping the World Cup?''

Funniest comment: ''The final will be a tie, but Australia will be declared winners because they scored 230 in 50 overs to Pakistan's 800 for nine in 47 overs in a Duckworth-Lewis readjustment.''

Worst caterers: Those who were trying to flog pork pies at Pakistan's matches.

Best caterers: Those in Leicester, who believed samosas and bhajis were a better bet than pork pies at the India-Zimbabwe match.

Best selling bars: Those at Worcester, on May 16 in the match between Australia and Scotland, when the world's beer drinking records may have been collectively broken.

Worst selling bars: Those at Old Trafford on June 8, when Pakistan met India with one group not particularly fond of the brewer's best and the other too nervous to get drunk lest they end up in the infirmary rather than in their hotel rooms.

Emotional high: Shane Warne, after getting Shahid Afridi leg before and acting like Manchester United strikers who converted a 0-1 deficit into a 2-1 victory in the nick of time against Bayern, Munich.

Emotional low: Allan Donald breaking down in the South African dressing room at Edgbaston, his home ground for years, which is in his home county of Warwickshire, where he lives only a mile away, in Birmingham.

Luckiest player: Paul Reiffel, whose tip over for six off a catch on the line may have cost his team the match.

Unluckiest player: Lance Klusener, who had to take his tally up to 282 from 281 to get his team into the final and take the cup.

Best TV: Sky television, for their innovative presentation of lead up programmes to the World Cup matches.

Worst TV: BBC, for their belief that everything, from royal weddings to dog races, always had priority over the cricket World Cup.

Most generous bookies: Bet direct, who treated Australia as winners while voiding South Africa wagers. They were a shade better than Ladbrokes, who settled all bets on Australia as a dead heat (half the staked and won money going to punters) while voiding all bets on South Africa.

Most ungenerous bookies: William Hill (Hills), who refused to return the money staked on South Africa.

Best runner between wickets: Jonty Rhodes.

Worst runner between wickets: Long term achievement honours to Inzamam-ul-Haq, while the World Cup honours should go to Allan Donald.

Best music at the World Cup: On the drums by Sivamani at all of India's matches.

Worst selling music on the World Cup: ''All over the world'', by Dave Stewart which may as well have lain forgotten in his attic rather than bombing during the event when released a day after England were knocked out.

Best match: No prize for guessing. Nothing in the world may match the semi-final between Australia and South Africa, until the teams meet again in the final in 2016 in England.

Worst match: Between Sri Lanka and Kenya, which was actually the only match in the World Cup which had no bearing whatsoever on how these teams or others depending on that result finished in the competition. UNI

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