Saturday 15th - May
South Africa v India
Every World Cup brings its fair share of innovation and last time we had the Sri Lankans revolutionary power hitting in the first 15 and New Zealand opening the bowling with a spinner. But hats off to the South Africans for dragging cricket into the electronic age with their innovative (or should that be cheeky?) use of radio mikes to keep captain Hansie Cronje and Alan Donald in constant touch with coach Bob Woolmer while they were out on the field of play.
Well fair enough Tail-Ender supposes and as South African supporters leapt fond of saying “There’s nothing against it in the rules”, but they also neglect to mention anything about bugging the oppositions dressing room and you don’t find anyone doing that, and did the wily South Africans really believe they could just turn and get away with it? Tail-Ender wonders where it could all end? Will we see the development of specialist team strategy coaches whispering in the players ears and co-ordinating them from on high like some garishly attired SWAT team?
This could herald the start of the biggest electronic surveillance operation since the cold war and imagine the potential for a spot of espionage with England enjoying a substantial home advantage by employing former MI5 spooks to hack into the opposition’s communications, put on a fake accent and advise the bowler to “Feed Hicky a succession of slow full tosses outside leg stump, to lull him into a false sense of security.”
On a more serious note, there were further security headaches for the authorities as Mohammed Azharuddin was accosted by an Indian fan berating him on the field for India’s loss against South Africa. Following the recent death threats against umpire Darryl Hair, crowd trouble in the West Indies and now Azza’s unfortunate encounter, Tail-Ender wonders is cricket becoming the new refuge for fans behaving badly?
Shane Warne has also been in trouble for slagging off Sri Lankan skipper Arjuna Ranatunga in his Friday Times column. Tail-Ender says what do you expect when you allow this deplorable trend to employ ex- and current players as media gurus? Cricket has always enjoyed a long and healthy tradition of commentators, pundits and thinkers who haven’t played the first-class game and this has unearthed some unique talents like the much missed Brian Johnson. Mind you Sky’s Charles Colville is always there to balance that argument and Tail-Ender will treat accusations that these are merely the ramblings of a jealous, embittered hack who hasn’t received the offer of a Sky contract with the disdain they deserve.
Oh and Kenya and Zimbabwe also played apparently.