They just want to be held
TWELVE teams have been whittled down to two in the Twenty20 World Cup.
Sri Lanka destroyed the West Indies in the semi-finals and must now be considered favourites to win the final.
Most teams employed the tactic against the Windies that “if we get Chris Gayle out early, then we will probably win”, but the Sri Lankans clearly thought “sod that, let’s just get the rest of them out.”
Pakistan progressed thanks to a very impressive victory over South Africa, having reached the semi-finals despite only beating New Zealand of the other test-playing nations.
South Africa have been the most confusing team in this tournament and this is no mean feat in a keenly fought category with England and Pakistan both producing a series of Jeykll and Hyde performances.
South Africa are confusing because they should be everyone’s second favourite team.
They are traditional nearly-men on the big stage and in the same way that everyone was cock-a-hoop when Goran Ivanisevic finally won Wimbledon and Jimmy White is snooker’s most-loved player, South Africa should be the public’s choice.
That they were tournament favourites from the start went against them, as everyone loves an underdog.
But the reason behind their unpopularity is not as simple as that.
Their batting is powerful and bludgeoning, with no astonishment to any of their shots a la the Tillekeratne Dilshan-pancake toss, they just smack it really hard.
Ironically the most exciting South African batsman plays for England.
Similarly there is no glamour or flair to their bowling, no mystery spinner, just ruthless efficiency and Vorsprung durch Technik.
All of which surely makes them the cricket equivalent of the new Fabio Capello-enhanced England football team – efficient, professional and effective, but still doomed to fail come the World Cup.