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World Cup turns into a left-handed affair
Tony Lawrence |
February 11, 2003 11:23 IST
Two days in and already there's something rather lop-sided about the 2003 cricket World Cup.
Two days in and it's looking disturbingly left-handed.
Brian Lara started the trend, with a match-winning century in the opening game, launching the tournament in perfect fashion with an enthralling three-run upset victory over the much-vaunted South Africans at Newlands.
Lara, despite his pedigree, was an unlikely scene stealer.
He had come to the World Cup with little form to boast of, having spent the last year struggling to recover from a dislocated and fractured elbow, back problems and a mystery illness which saw him collapse at the crease in September.
West Indies, so the mantra went, were all about exciting young talent.
Old man Lara, fast approaching 34, disagreed with 116 left-handed runs (the Trinidadian almost saw the match snatched from him by Lance Klusener, who hammered 57 off 48 balls -- every one of them left-handed as well).
Monday saw more of the same from Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya in Bloemfontein.
Lara had been dropped off his first ball. Jayasuriya had his escape on 18, given not out after a big appeal for caught behind. He went on to muscle his way to his first World Cup century as he made a blistering 125-ball 120 to ensure victory against the New Zealanders in Group B.
Scott Styris, a mere right-hander, hit 141 for the Kiwis in return, but all in a losing cause as the Lankans won by 47 runs.
The cack-handed Andy Flower did not make many runs but he made big waves in Harare.
Just before the start of Zimbabwe's opening Group B match against Namibia, he and team mate Henry Olonga produced their own blistering counter-attack as they hit out at President Robert Mugabe's government.
Flower was ranked as the best batsman in the world in 2001, right or left-handed. On Sunday, team mate Craig Wishart made the runs -- 172 not out -- but Flower was as striking in another guise, sporting a black armband "mourning the death of democracy in our beloved Zimbabwe".
English fans, meanwhile, are probably also black-armbanded, mourning the death of common sense.
Somehow Nasser Hussain's players and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have painted themselves into the tightest of corners.
Some of the players, it seems, have moral concerns over playing Thursday's Group A game against Zimbabwe because of the state of the country. Others are worried about their safety after receiving death threats.
Other players again, according to Hussain, are not very worried at all. The ECB, it seems, are concerned about money and commercial law and the danger of being sued for millions of dollars if the game in Harare does not go ahead.
As a group, they simply can't make their minds up.
Not so much a left-handed problem. More a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand will do next.
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