A disheartening moment of poor sportsmanship soured the Standard Bank Cup on Wednesday night and almost cost Border their two-wicket victory in the first leg semi-final against Northerns Titans at SuperSport Park.
For all that was good in the match, not the least being a wonderful maiden century from 19-year-old Northerns opener Jacques Rudolph, the game was clouded by the unhappy run out of Border opening bat Laden Gamiet.
Border seemed on track to hunt down a target of 278 for victory at 172 for two in the 30th over of their innings when a leading edge from Mark Boucher flew into the covers where Pierre Joubert made a diving attempt hold the catch. Joubert, in fact, held the ball until it spilled from his hands as his elbow hit the ground.
The fielder quickly indicated that he had not taken the catch and tossed it back to the bowler's end. Both batsmen, however, thought that the catch had been taken. Boucher turned towards the dressing room while Gamiet, then on 87, left his crease to call for fresh gloves.
In the confusion that followed it seemed that the bowler and Northerns captain Gerald Dros lifted the bails and appealed for a run out against Gamiet. After heated argument, umpire Cyril Mitchley gave Gamiet out. The consensus among the umpires at the ground was that the ball had not been called dead and that Gamiet was technically out.
Why Dros did not withdraw his appeal upon reflection, though, only he can explain and his actions were clearly against the spirit of the game. It was a most unfortunate decision and yet another instance of how the desire to win too often outweighs common sense and decency.
The incident happened after Gamiet and Craig Sugden (53) had ripped into the Northerns bowling, taking 102 off the first 15 overs in an opening partnership that eventually yielded 106.
Border stuttered after Gamiet's dismissal, slipping to 266 for eight, but a blistering 52 of 43 balls from Wayne Wiblin revived the innings and the ninth wicket pair went into the last over from Greg Smith needing five to win.
Two came off the first ball, a single off the single and then Smith bowled a no ball, tucked away by Piet Botha for one to give the visitors victory with four deliveries still remaining.
The Northerns innings was built around Rudolph's quite wonderful 110, an innings during which the youngster often played the anchor role yet still managed to make his runs off just 116 balls.
A composed left-hander very much in the mould of Gary Kirsten, he looked an international player in the making and although there were splendid contributions from Martin van Jaarsveld, who made 77 and shared in a 134-run stand for the second wicket with Rudolp, and Dros who spanked 47 not out off just 31 balls, Rudolph was quite clearly the star of the show. It is a pity that this match will be remembered for reasons other than his magnificent batting.