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World Cup turns Africa upside down
March 16, 2003 21:38 IST
Zimbabwe's undistinguished exit from the World Cup, coupled with the sacking of South Africa skipper Shaun Pollock, completed an upside-down tournament for Africa.
Only a few weeks ago, main hosts South Africa tantalised themselves with the notion of becoming the first team to win the Cup on home territory.
Instead, they were the first team from the continent to be eliminated.
Co-hosts Zimbabwe, helped by match forfeits and rain, reached the Super Sixes before falling away.
Kenya, so-called minnows without a team sponsor and not considered good enough to play Test cricket, are still in the tournament and preparing for a semi-final against India in Durban.
Cricket in all three countries is likely to face tumultuous times in the months to come.
In South Africa and Zimbabwe, the changes have already begun.
South Africa's next Test series will see a 22-year-old in charge, who has played just eight matches, all at home, and was not considered good enough for the original World Cup squad.
Pollock, found guilty of not being able to read the Duckworth-Lewis scoring tables, will play on under Graeme Smith but fellow fast bowler Allan Donald and Jonty Rhodes retired from the international scene during the Cup. Gary Kirsten joined them on Sunday.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, have lost their one true world-class player in Andy Flower. He announced his retirement on Friday and is heading for Essex and English county cricket.
"A player of that quality is going to leave a huge void in any side," captain Heath Streak said.
Henry Olonga, the first black player to represent the country and who joined Flower in a World Cup protest over human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, and Guy Whittall have also called time on their international careers. More are expected to follow.
Losing all rounder Neil Johnson (now playing in South Africa) and batsman Murray Goodwin (now playing in Australia) after the 1999 World Cup was bad enough but the current exodus could seriously undermine the team's competitiveness at the top level.
South Africa's long-term future has also been questioned.
Former coach Bob Woolmer said during the World Cup: "There is a vacuum in South African cricket. South Africa is not producing the type of cricketers it used to anymore.
"Many cricketers, both black and white, are not sure what the future holds for them."
The South Africans remain officially the best test side -- and the second best one-day side -- in the world, according to International Cricket Council rankings but the future looks cloudy.
Kenya, meanwhile, have been the story of the World Cup but major question marks remain about their future as well, even as they lobby hard to become the 11th nation to be awarded Test status.
Their 22-year-old leg spinner Collins Obuya had made a big impact at the World Cup, with 13 wickets at 25.69 apiece.
But skipper Steve Tikolo, the team's leading batsman is 31, as is top quick bowler Martin Suji and opening batsman Kennedy Otieno. Maurice Odumbe is 33.
Top-order batsman Ravindu Shah, so impressive against Australia, is 30. Aasif Karim, man of the match with his left-arm spin, is 39 and already once retired.
It this the new African order, then it has very old legs and is peaking decidedly late.
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