Durban: South African great Barry Richards believes Kenya's advance into the World Cup semi-finals was a fairytale, but was unsure if it was good for cricket."What does it say about a tournament that it's allowed a situation to happen where a team can benefit from a forfeited match?" Richards said, referring to New Zealand's refusal to play its group match in Kenya for security reasons."Kenya getting to the semi-finals, it's a fairytale but I'm not sure if it's good for cricket.
I know that it's easy to be wise after the event, but if South Africa was given the right to host the World Cup, then why weren't all the matches played in South Africa?"It's got the grounds. Six months ago people knew what the situation was in Zimbabwe and Kenya. But Zimbabwe and India are pretty close. India is a very powerful member, especially financially, on the International Cricket Council (ICC)."It's a real issue, how much politics should affect international cricket." Richards, who played just four Tests before South Africa's sporting isolation due to apartheid, added that Kenya's advance posed real difficulties for the ICC.
"They don't have great depth and I don't think they ever will. In Kenya, cricket is very much a Nairobi game. It's all very well saying you want to spread the game internationally but Kenyan cricket is going to require massive investment by the ICC."And that's a problem when you've got established countries like Zimbabwe and West Indies, who need financial support, falling through the cracks. It's a big ICC decision."Richards gave Kenya little chance of producing an upset by beating India in its semi-final day-night match here at Kingsmead on Thursday.
"It only takes one good ball to get rid of a good batsman and Kenya are capable of bowling six good balls," he said."But I'm not sure they can sustain it." Richards was equally pessimistic about the future of South African cricket following the hosts' first round exit."What I'd like to see happen and what I think will happen are two different things."But it's not going to be a cricketing decision," said Richards in what appeared to be a thinly veiled attack on the policy of 'transformation' designed to promote non-white cricketers.
Richards, widely regarded as the most gifted batsman of his generation, said deposed captain Shaun Pollock could not be held solely responsible for South Africa's early departure from the World Cup."It's very sad to blame one person and I think it's equally wrong to blame the coach - he hasn't been in the job very long," he said. "If the set-up is not producing the players then there's not a lot they can do. And some of the players are not of international standard."Copyright AFP 2001