Benson & Hedges World Cup 1991-92, second semi-final

ENGLAND v SOUTH AFRICA

Toss: South Africa.

This game's closing minutes buried South Africa's World Cup hopes, and whatever credibility the rain rule had retained. By putting pressure on the team batting second, the rule supposedly created exciting finishes; on this occasion 12 minutes' heavy rain, when South Africa needed 22 from 13 balls, adjusted their target first to 22 from seven, and then to 21 from one. McMillan could only take a single off Lewis. The losers were disconsolate, the winners embarrassed, and the crowd furious. Why, they asked, were the two overs not played out under the floodlights?

The majority blamed the World Cup's organising committee, and the inflexibility which prevented a second-day resumption. (The next day was set aside only for a completely new match, to be played if the second team had not faced 25 overs.) Justice was probably done; Wessels chose to field, knowing the rules and the forecast, and his bowlers were fined for going slow and depriving England of five overs' acceleration. But it was not seen to be done, and fine performances on both sides were overshadowed by indignation.

Most of England's batsmen scored fluently, but the tour de force came from Hick. He survived an lbw appeal first ball, and was caught off a no-ball before scoring, but went on to 83 in 90 balls, adding 71 in 14 overs with Stewart, and 73 with Fairbrother. Reeve raced out to score 25 from 14 balls, including 17 of the 18 plundered from Donald's final over. Pursuing 5.62 an over, South Africa made 58 from their first ten. For once they did not depend on Kirsten, hampered by an injury. Hudson narrowly missed a fourth fifty, Kuiper hit three consecutive fours off Small, and Rhodes proved his worth as a batsman, reducing the target to 47 from just over five overs; McMillan and Richardson knocked off 25 from three before the rain, and the rules, made their task impossible.

Man of the Match: G. A. Hick. Attendance: 35,088.

© John Wisden & Co