Kass Naidoo

438: cricket's magic number

2007-02-28 08:55

Kass Naidoo

Jonty Rhodes's run-out of Inzamam-Ul-Haq in 1992 remains my most vivid World Cup memory. I can still picture him diving full stretch to break the stumps; an image which has been splashed around the world since then.

So, will this looming island festival provide us with more awesome moments in World Cup history? Maybe another world record chase?

It's staggering to consider the extent to which ODI cricket has changed over the years. Not too long ago scores of 220-230 were considered competitive. Not anymore!

South Africa's mind-boggling 438 win has shaken the cricket community into realising that the seemingly impossible can now be achieved.

Destructive batting

This revolution in ODI cricket has roots in 1996, when Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana stunned the world with their swashbuckling style.

It was Jayasuriya's destructive batting that ensured Sri Lanka beat England to advance to the 1996 World Cup semi-finals, and on to victory over Australia in their first ever World Cup final.

After a heavy loss, England's captain Michael Atherton said: "They play the first 15 overs as if they were the last 15. I think Sri Lanka have taken the game to new levels. It's so difficult to bowl at them."

That 'new level' is the norm in 2007, and with the Proteas' mantra of 'brave cricket' reflected all around the world, it should make for a World Cup that regularly dishes up 300-plus innings totals.

Unspoken motto

The use of drop-in pitches for the World Cup will bedevil any star-gazing attempts, but the trend of batsmen attacking the power plays and death overs is likely to continue.

"The impossible - what nobody can do until somebody does." This familiar quote seems to be the new unspoken motto in cricket today. And there is no shortage of match winners.

South Africa rely on Mark Boucher, Australia turn to Michael Hussey, New Zealand have Jacob Oram, India will look to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Pakistan have Shahid Afridi, and in Paul Collingwood England have one of the most unlikely of match winners.

These are just some of frontrunners, not to mention others with as much and even greater talent, all queuing up to be the one to produce a World Cup-winning performance.

Favourites

The cricketing world is surging with excitement, especially since there is no overwhelming tournament favourite. And teams like Scotland will entertain dreams of that elusive win over a Test playing nation.

Today the Proteas leave for the Caribbean firmly among the cup title favourites. They'll know that it takes just one big performance to swing a match, and they'll be confident, considering their acknowledged abundance of match winners.

Good luck to the Proteas, make us proud!

  • Kass Naidoo is editor of gsport... for Girls!

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