CricInfo at World Cup 1999
[The ICC Cricket World Cup - England 1999]

South Africa out of Final
Trevor Chesterfield - 17 June 1999

BIRMINGHAM (England) - South Africa face the millennium without the World Cup title they had so desperately hoped to win at Lord's on Sunday while Hansie Cronje refused to blame yesterday's last-over dramatic run out of Allan Donald on a moment of pressure or panic in their tied semi-final with Australia.

After a day of high drama at Edgbaston in the heart of the British midlands, Australia were able to go through to meet Pakistan in the final on the strength of their Super Six victory at Headingley in Leeds last Sunday. Cronje said there was so much noise from an excited 19 000 screaming spectators that Donald had not heard Lance Klusener's call for a fateful single which ended in a run out with two balls of Damien Fleming's last over left to play.

Klusener had cracked two sizzling boundaries off the first two deliveries of the over to take South Africa within a single of reaching the goal playing in the 1999 final. But in a communication snarl up Klusener called Donald who was run out by the Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist when Mark Waugh, at mid-off, threw the ball to Fleming who relayed it to the striker's end.

The query of why Klusener did not wait for the fifth or last balls of the over to attempt to win the game is going to be one of the big debating points of this tournament for South Africa. In the past he has withstood the pressures with calm assurance, but somehow the moment got to the attacking batsman who earned praise from Shane Warne.

Warne was involved in further controversy early in his bowling spell when he claimed a catch which led to the dismissal of the South African captain, Cronje. Later a sombre Cronje agreed he was not out when England umpire David Shepherd awarded a catch to Mark Waugh off the leg-spinner's bowling. As it is Warne began his magic when he recycled the delivery which earned him his 'Wizard of Oz' fame six years ago when he bowled Mike Gatting at Old Trafford. Yesterday it was the turn of Herschelle Gibbs to gape bemused at the off stump, bare without its bail. It has been described as the 'ball from hell'.

Gibbs had groped forward only to see a ball pitching outside the leg stump. Warne was allowed to rip a hole in the South African top order; two balls in three wickets which included Cronje's.

'No. Not out: you could see it clearly (on the video replay),' Cronje said. Australia's captain Steve Waugh, who felt that South Africa had come so close, merely quipped, straight faced, 'Read the scorecard in tomorrow's paper.'

At the best of times when bowling Warne can be arrogant, a bully and a destroyer of innocents who big mouths his opponents when he is on top, no doubt to make up for the times he has not done so well. Yesterday was one his better days as a bowler in this tournament. He described it as the best he has bowled in a limited-overs international this year.

For South Africa though it is the end of the road for the coach Bob Woolmer and selection panel convener Peter Pollock who are stepping down after five years and two attempts to win the World Cup, both of which have ended in failure.

On July 1 Graham Ford steps in and a new convener of selectors to take over from Pollock while Cronje left a question mark hanging over his future, although at this stage he indicated he was not considering retirement. 'There are new selectors and a new coach and we will have to see how they feel it should be done,' Cronje added. 'Preparation for the new season is only three months away.'

Cronje ducked rumours he might not be around when the World Cup is held in South Africa in 2003. It is known that Cronje is expected to continue in the role until at least the end of next season after a series against England and a tour of India. He will only be 33 when the 2003 World Cup is held. By then a new crop of aspirants will have emerged.

Steve Waugh agreed although a tie was a fair result the cruelty of the game was that one team had to 'miss out' on playing in the final. Along with Cronje he endorsed the World Cup format.

'We know what we had to do and that was win. While Lance (Klusener) was there I knew we always had a chance. It is a pity it did not work out the way we had hoped.'

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