Crofty's Last Thoughts on the World Cup (24 June 1999)

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24 June 1999

Crofty's Last Thoughts on the World Cup

Colin Croft

The furore has now died down, so perhaps I can give my general overview of what transpired from that very first game of the 1999 Cricket World Cup, played on May 14 between England and Sri Lanka at Lords, to the last game, at the same venue, between Pakistan and Australia, played on June 20.

At the final toll, I had the extreme pleasure of covering 12 games for television commentay, 11 games for radio commentary and an additional 5 games for the written press. To be sufficiently involved to cover 28 of the 42 total games was a true delight for me. I would not have traded it for the world! I am very pleased!

The logistics of the competition were tremendous. It meant that most journalists would be travelling much more than they are accustomed to doing, even those who cover English County cricket. Of course, I had no problem with the travel at all. Since I became an Air Traffic Controller in 1973, I have learned to travel well and have travelled so much, in cars, airplanes, anything that moves, even boats, which I do not like very much because of their slowness, that it really was a joy for me to move around so very much in such a short space of time.

Incidentally, I have had an exact count of the miles that I have travelled in the 1999 Cricket World Cup. Sometimes it was tiring, sometimes interesting, sometimes just exhilerating. It was totally enjoyable to drive all of exactly 4,777 miles during the five weeks or so.

The cricket itself was truly wonderful, overall. To be very honest, I covered only two games which disappointed me greatly. I will list them here. The rest of the games were just great.

  1. The West Indies v Australia at Old Trafford on May 30 was truly disappointing. It was the last of these teams' group games in the preliminary stages, one the Australians had to win to stay in the competition, so poorly had they started the competition. The West Indies only had to do well in this particular game, not necessarily win it, to qualify for the Super Sixes stage.

    Of course, we all know the result of this game. West Indies were bowled out for a meagre 110, with Ridley Jacobs making 49 and Shiv Chanderpaul making 16 of the runs. No-one else got to double figures. It was terribly disappointing, as everyone, even the Australians, expected a better fight from the West Indies. The Australians won easily and the West Indies were eliminated.

  2. The second disappointing game also featured the Aussies. They embarrassed Pakistan in the final on June 20. No-one, again not even the Australians, expected this game to be so easy. Surely the Australians expected to win, as any team playing in the final ought to feel. However, Steve Waugh even suggested that he expected a bit of a harder time to win that trophy.

    We all know how mercurial Pakistan could be. On the day of the final, they did not show up! Australia were worthy champions of the competition.

The games I enjoyed the most were really something special.

  1. When Bangladesh played against Pakistan at Northampton on May 31, the atmosphere was absolutely electric. I had the distinct pleasure of doing commentary, and the ending of the game, with Matt Davis for BBC World Service and I would never forget the sight of both Pakistan's flag and Bangladesh's flag rotating the ground, clock-wise and anti-clock-wise, with the supposedly capacity 7500 spectators having a ball, peacefully but extremely noisily. I am sure that there were many more than just 7500 spectators there. To cap it all, Bangladesh won the game and declared a holiday at home. Oh, what a joyous game for the emotion that was!
  2. When India played Pakistan at Old Trafford on June 08, the fourth of the Super Six games, the atmosphere was so thick with tension that one could actually cut the air. It was such a nerve tingling environment that the game was actually spoiled for and by the players. India eventually won, but the pressures on everyone that day, especially the security people, was enormous. Thank God no-one was hurt at all. What a great job by the people at Old Trafford.
  3. No-one who saw that heart-stopping encounter between South Africa and Australia in the semi-final at Edgbaston on June 17 would forget it in a hurry, even though South Africa, especially Herschell Gibbs, could be getting nightmares for the rest of their lives.

    Australia won through because of a few reasons. Simply, they know, better than any international cricket team, how to win. Secondly, they had some great luck too, but that is a great part of this game. It is reported that Steve Waugh, the Australian captrain, after he was dropped by Herschell Gibbs, actually asked him, "How does it feel to drop the World Cup?". How prophetic Steve Waugh was.

The rules of the games for the World Cup were not so bad. I actually liked the format somewhat, but did not like the way the points system was used. I believe that points should be rewarded as they were in the preliminary rounds for a win etc.. Then, when the teams for the Super Sixes were decided, based on the points had from the preliminary round, those points gotten in the preliminary rounds should be discarded, starting afresh in the Super Six round.

Then, in the Super Six round, each team should play each of the other five qualifying teams once, with new points being allocated for wins etc... At the end of the Super Six round, the four teams with the most points and/or wins, in the Super Six round and the preliminary round, (only if weather becomes a factor), should go through to the semi-finals. Then, of course, to the finals for the two teams winning the semi-finals.

This suggestion allows that every game would be vital, regardless of when it was played.

There was much talk about the white ball and its excessive movement initially. My own assessment is that the batsmen overall were poor and most had terrible technique. Most were found out. The "pinch-hitter" had a very quick but effective death in this world cup. Indeed, only Sri Lanka and South Africa tried it, very unsuccessfully. It did not work because batting in England in May needed proper technique and ability. As was eventually noticed, the batsmen with class rose to the top. The cream always rises!

My best team, for the overall 1999 World Cup only, is as follows, perhaps in batting order, even though I have selected 14:

  1. Saeed Anwar (Pakistan)

  2. Mark Waugh (Australia) or Herschell Gibbs (South Africa) or Saurav Ganguly (India)

  3. Jaques Kallis (South Africa)

  4. Rahul Dravid (India)

  5. Steve Waugh (Australia) - captain

  6. Lance Kluesener (South Africa)

  7. Moin Khan (Pakistan) - wicket-keeper

  8. Wasim Akram (Pakistan)

  9. Shane Warne (Australia)

  10. Glen McGrath (Australia)

  11. Shoaib Achtar (Pakistan) or Geoff Allott (New Zealand)

In my mind, these were the 14 best players of the 1999 Cricket World Cup.

Some very sad and extremely disappointing news from the World Cup itself. Many Sports Journalists suffered badly from the theft/loss of their computers and other equipment, their tools of work. My lap-top computer was actually stolen from the BBC commentary box at Old Trafford, the highest part of the new commentary/media building. Police reports were made, but to no avail. From what I hear, officially, I was number seven on the hit list to lose equipment.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins, one of the most senior Sports Journalists in the world, lost his lap-top computer the very first day of the official use of the new media stand/centre at Lords. In between CMJ and mine, two South African journalists, one Pakistani jounalist, one Bangladeshi journalist and one cameraman also lost their equipment from respective press areas. None have been recoved yet!

No-one knows who to blame or what to think, as these areas were supposed to be secure for Sportsw Journalists, Caterers and Security people only. These thefts, though, spoiled the tournament somewhat for some of us.

Finally, I would like to thank all the people, from everywhere from Kobe, Japan, to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, to Alaska, North America and everyone else in between who listened to me on the radio or television or internet, or read my work somewhere during the tournament. I did my best to be honest, fair and informative.

Thank you all for the messages, e-mails, phone calls, critiques and every comment made. Your help could only make me a better Sports Journalist.

I would also like to thank all of the media houses who saw it fit to use my services. It was a tremendous experience and I have learned so much from it, most of it very positive.

I will be off for a fortnight or so, while I try to get a new lap-top computer organized. If anyone knows of a way to replace an IBM 760ED, a great lap-top computer, without spending all of at least US$3,000, please contact me e-mail: Any information would be very welcomed!

Thank you and enjoy your cricket overall!

Source :: Colin Croft

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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