Johannesburg: When the captains of all the 14 teams line up during the opening ceremony of the 2003 World Cup in Cape Town on Saturday, New Zealand's Stephen Fleming will be the only surviving captain of the last tournament held in England four years ago. "It's an honour because leading your side in two World Cups is something special," Fleming said. In England in 1999, 12 teams took part.
Eleven of those skippers have since either lost their jobs, been dropped or are playing as ordinary members. The 12th, South Africa's Hansie Cronje was killed in a plane crash in June last year. A passionate South Africa still misses Cronje, who led his team to a memorable and dramatic semi-final at Edgbaston four years ago, and some current players said they will dedicate the cup to him if they win this year.
Cronje was banned for life after he confessed to taking money from bookmakers in 2000 while India's Mohammad Azharuddin is serving a life ban on match-fixing charges. Azharuddin's Indian team failed to qualify for the Super Sixes last time round and on its way out lost to Zimbabwe from a winning position. Pakistan, which finished runners-up to Australia in 1999, had Wasim Akram as its leader. Wasim was barred from leading his country after a match fixing inquiry three years ago and all his efforts to lift the ban have been fruitless.
Steve Waugh is the most talked about casualty. He led Australia to seven consecutive wins in the 1999 tournament, hit a century in the last league game against South Africa before leading his team to the trophy. Sri Lanka, champions in 1996 but a major flop at the last event, was led by Arjuna Ranatunga who retired two years ago and is now a member of house, country's parliament.
West Indies' Brian Lara, England's Alec Stewart and Kenya's Asif Karim - who all led their teams in 1999 - lost the jobs. Clive Lloyd of the West Indies, Imran Khan of Pakistan and Azharuddin hold the record of leading their countries in three tournaments with the Caribbeans winning two crowns under Lloyd. England has had different captains in all seven editions of the World Cup - Fleming's survival has saved the New Zealand from a similar statistic.
| Copyright AFP 2001 |