Johannesburg: You've got to hand it to the World Cup wicket-keepers - when the pressure's on, some of the great names make big mistakes. For Mark Boucher, the torment has been particularly acute and his pain was all to see in the heat of the Bullring, the apt nickname for the Wanderers ground on Sunday. With South Africa defending 306, Boucher let New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming off the hook when he dropped a simple catch off the bowling of Jacques Kallis when the Kiwi was on 53.
Fleming went on to score an unbeaten 134 as the Black Caps clinched a dramatic nine- wicket win which could end the hosts' World Cup dreams. Poor Boucher. At Potchefstroom earlier he dropped Kenyan opener Ravindu Shah when he had made just two. Shah went on to score 60 out of a total of 140. South Africa still won the match but the score line could have a bearing on run-rate which will decide the Super Six qualifiers should Group 'B' be too close to call on points.
"Boucher has dropped two relatively straightforward catches during this event and when he did catch Craig McMillan off Allan Donald on Sunday his body language was one of intense relief," said former coach Bob Woolmer. The pressure has also told on others. Kenya's David Obuya, worryingly described as having a safe pair of hands in the tournament media guide, had his moment of madness against Canada. Chasing a simple skied shot from Joe Harris off the bowling of Maurice Odumbe, Obuya, who is keeping elder brother Kennedy out of the team, let the ball slip through his gloves. Harris went on to make 31, but Obuya's embarrassment was saved by his teammates as they registered a win in the Group 'B' encounter.
Elsewhere, pressure of a different kind was played out in the full glare of publicity for Australia's Adam Gilchrist and Pakistan's Rashid Latif after the teams' bitter Johannesburg confrontation last week. Gilchrist alleged that Latif had made a racial remark to him, which the Pakistani denied and the whole sorry mess ended up at an ICC inquiry which dismissed the whole affair. Latif made noises about litigation, then changed his mind. Gilchrist got on with the job in hand smashing 48 as Australia took out its frustration on India in its next game. Meanwhile, Lou Vincent proved that 'keepers can have many roles at this World Cup.
Having been behind the stumps in the first game against Sri Lanka, he was sent to the outfield to face the West Indies and proved his value by fielding the ball with an accurate throw to Chris Cairns to run out Brian Lara before the batting maestro could cause too much damage. The Kiwis won the game, went on to see off the South Africans and are now thinking of greater things ahead. India's Rahul Dravid has been forced to don the gloves to lend balance to the side. The pressure's showing. Mr Reliable has failed with the bat in both matches so far.
| Copyright AFP 2001 |