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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report

Shrink fills gap between Cup and lip

Faisal Shariff in Johannesburg | February 11, 2003 14:38 IST

Never mind if it couldn't come of use in their first match against the West Indies. But South Africa has a daisycutter to carpetbomb the opposition and clinch this World Cup. It is in the hands of fans and spectators in the stands and it is in the form of a guide to sledging.

"The Psychologist's Guide to Sledging", devised by Tim Harkness of the Kings Park Sports Media Centre, was presented in The Sunday Times. It exhorts fans to encourage the home team with slogans like "We're behind you", "Do your best" and "Win us the World Cup."

But it is what it urges fans to do to the other teams that shows how seriously South Africa is taking its World Cup campaign. Friendly, hospitable hellos are forbidden. Greet opposition teams with audible in-their-face insults like "They look much smaller in real life," says the guide.

Atithi devo bhava [the guest is god]? Not here. Harkness has a country-by-country "lip service" gameplan for fans to target the other 13 teams and to make things easier for the home side, which is in its fourth World Cup since its return to international cricket.

Pakistan: Focus on match-fixing and offer them bribes.

England: Sing, 'I am a brave, brave mouse / I go marching around the house / and I am not afraid of any one.' Then sing the same lines again ending with "Except for Australia". Keep singing and add, "Except for Australia and South Africa", "Except for Australia and South Africa and India", 'Except for Australia and South Africa and India and New Zealand and Kenya and Bangladesh".

India and Sri Lanka: "Both countries tend to be cultured and genteel, so harsh, intimidating abuse is needed. The more the merrier. What the South African players have discovered is that if they throw the ball aggressively to the wicketkeeper it rattles them and such a confrontational approach is necessary. They also needed to be reminded of mistakes and injuries repeatedly."

New Zealand: Use lots of sheep jokes. "How do New Zealanders find sheep in long grass? Very exciting."

Holland, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh: Why bother?

Australia: Harkness says there is no point swearing at the Aussies because "they have heard the worst obscenities, and probably far worse from their mother or sister". So the strategy is to keep "reminding them of their injuries, their advanced ages, mistakes made on the boundary line and enquiring about the whereabouts of Steve Waugh. And the sheep jokes again".

Harkness exhorts fans to use a bantering approach against the West Indians, comments on the line of, "Look guys you are never going to win, so you may as well relax and enjoy yourselves."

Did that work on Sunday night in the opening match of the tournament? Look at the scoreline: West Indies b South Africa.

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