To Day Cricket Match – White ball cricket is fast food; Red ball cricket is good food. This irrevocable statement is hard to argue with, but there is one powerful exception that proves that ODIs can also be top cricket. The 1999 World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa was won by Ferran Adria on a Big Mac. It was an experiment in all but name, with the same subtlety, temporal variation and depth. It wasn’t just weird in terms of fiction; it was intense, deep – and had a wild twist that even Hitchcock might have found heartless.
Twenty years later, it’s still hard to see how a limited-overs game – any game – could cause such tension. In the end, even Shane Warne, who lived through such moments, thought he had never felt such tension on the cricket field.
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Warne was part of a group to die for. There were both present and future, from Allan Donald and the Waugh brothers in the 30s to Ricky Ponting and Jacques Callis in the early 20s. Between them, the two XIs finished their ODI careers with 4,584 matches, 106, 188 runs and 2630 wickets. Neither of them have experienced anything comparable to the game that defines their careers with so many losses, let alone wins.
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The history of the 1999 World Cup semi-final starts on February 1, 1994. That was when Warne bowled Australia to win the third and final Test in Adelaide and denied South Africa the famous series victory. For the next five years, both styles of the game were regularly challenged in Australia, especially by Warne and Steve Waugh.
South Africa beat Australia in the first ODI triangular final in 1993-94 and 1997-98 but lost 1-2 each time. In 1997-98 they also beat Australia in all four group matches. Wisden said South Africa were “undoubtedly the best team in the Daily Summer”. But Australia won.
It was during this tri-series that Waugh, Australia’s new one-day captain, said South Africa “tend to hold back under pressure”. South Africa comprehensively beat Australia in the gold medal match at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, although it was their only victory over Australia in the final since their return to international competition in 1991. Bob Woolmer, their coach, thought this broke Australia’s psychological stranglehold on his team.
Woolmer’s view was not widely shared, and Australia’s result against South Africa held the gruesome talk leading up to the 1999 semi-final. South Africa missed a chance to eliminate Australia at Headingley four days ago. They are already through to the semi-finals and have gone through the tournament with a poor run of form, but a win in their final Super Six match would see Australia win and they are likely to end their one-night stand. working with their old enemies Warne and Waugh.
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The history of the 1999 World Cup semi-final begins on February 1, 1994. It was then that Warne beat Australia to win the third and final Test in Adelaide.
Instead, Waugh returned with an impressive 120 innings instead of 110 balls. When he turned 50, some South African players mocked his poor ODI conversion rate: one century and 36 fifties. Waugh turned their barbs into inspiration. Herschel Gibbs’ tragic fall from midwifery sometimes overshadows the quality and daring of Waugh’s service. There was raw confidence in the stroke count, and in the end it was even the fastest football ever. For several hours he was playing like no one else.
When interviewed before the semi-final, Wo effectively managed to name South Africa’s chokers while denying that he had ever done so. “I never said there were chokers in South Africa,” he said. “I said they can’t play well under pressure. But if they are offended by such statements, then they are in trouble.”
Of course, they angered Woolmer, who was not in the best mood when reporters asked him about the S-word before the semi-final. “When you call us chokers, you have to go back to 1997,” Woolmer said. “The year is 1999, the stranglehold is over. Why are we called chokers when we get 80% success? You just need to look at the facts.”
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The fact is that in the last four years South Africa have won 76 and lost 20 complete ODIs. The fact was also that seven of those losses came in 18 games against Australia.
At the Edgbaston stadium, it was enough for South Africa to serve first when they won, and that decision was immediately confirmed. Mark Waugh joined for the first time, failing to avoid Sean Pollock’s homing short. After that, South Africa never trailed in the game; Steve Waugh calculated that Australia won by just one ball in the entire match.
Nine and no joy: Allan Donald and Sean Pollock dominated the Australian wickets, restricting them to 213 © PA Photos/Getty Images
After a slow start, Ponting’s brilliant performance, which included sixes and fours from Steve Elworthy, propelled Australia. “Sky is constantly running the game here in the office,” said Elworthy, FIFA World Cup 2019 Competition Director. “I am constantly reminded of this by the Australians who work for the organisation. “Dear man, here you go six!”
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Australia went astray after Ponting’s star burst, losing three wickets in four matches. Ponting and Darren Lehmann lost first place to Donald, then Adam Gilchrist caught third man Callis. Steve Waugh also missed a run chance as Gary Kirsten bowled his shot over the stumps.
With 68 to 4 and Tom Moody the only batsman, Waugh and Michael Bevan had no option but to strengthen. They took some time while the service was still going on. Initially, Australia wanted 250, but changed it to 220 after losing the first over. Bevan was incomparable in pursuit of goals; He was great to work with as well. “I’m working on a theory,” he says in The Best of Bevan, “that sometimes you have to do less than your conscience tells you.”
After a couple of early boundaries, Bevan and Waugh scored just six runs in 8.4 overs. It was a reckless act by both players who were tested after the game to find they had exceeded the ice limit for their veins. At this stage, Waugh had 16 from 46 balls and Bevan had 8 from 40. When you promise, you have to deliver – and they did: Waugh scored 40 from 30. last goal and Bevan has 57 of his last 61.
Bevan, one of the best goalscorers of his generation, scored innumerable game-winning goals during his career. His 65 at Edgbaston has since been forgotten, although it was the highest score of the game; however, he felt calm during the game, and said he rarely felt comfortable during a big game.
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The same is not true of Waugh. Four days ago he played a massive century to beat South Africa with an up-and-down service and felt the zone during the match. Lehmann had never seen Waugh happier than when he returned to the dressing room. However, Edgbaston felt mentally exhausted and had to constantly see himself to get out of this situation.
Waugh’s 56 dominated 90 runs before he fell to Pollock, then dismissed Moody for a duck in the same over. Australia were again in trouble as they scored 158 for 6, but a balanced partnership between Bevan and Warne (49) saw them cross the 200 mark. Donald and Pollock, after sharing nine wickets, finished the job. In Australia, there were 213 of them – the total, although below the standard, gave them the opportunity to work. That’s all Warne ever asked for.
The pitch helped the seamers a bit during the Australia game. At halftime, the sun came out and everything changed. In South Africa’s first ten overs, the ball barely moved, and Gibbs hit six boundaries of increasing beauty.
Gibbs, Warne said in his first autobiography, struck “like a man on a mission to redeem himself” after Waugh’s failure in the Super Six match. This was an event that Warne had predicted. That night, at the end of the match against Australia, Warne said that anyone who caught Gibbs should wait because he could throw the ball very quickly and the umpires could deny it. Warne’s views could hardly have elicited more jeers if he had told his team-mates he was going on a date with Liz Hurley. The next day, when that happened, he shouted in a daze: “I told you! I told you!” anyone and everyone.
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This moment was one of the highlights