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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 10:27 GMT
What is the World Cup coming to?
By Scott Heinrich
BBC Sport

A fan waits during a rain break
The elements have had a big say in the World Cup
When Ali Bacher proudly trumpeted the World Cup as an event for all of Africa, it is doubtful he envisaged Kenya and Zimbabwe carrying the continent's hopes into the Super Six stage.

As the tournament hots up, it will not be South Africa rubbing shoulders with the likes of Australia and India.

It sounds like the stuff of fairytales for a sport striving for greater recognition in countries outside the traditional bankers.

But whatever line Bacher, the tournament organiser, might like to peddle, the World Cup he believes will unite Africa has been dirtied by censure and discord.

Australia: 12 points
Kenya: 10 points
India: 8 points
Sri Lanka: 7.5 points
New Zealand: 4 points
Zimbabwe: 3.5 points
Sitting proudly in the Super Six - the phase designed for supposedly the best sextet in the competition - are two teams plainly not good enough.

This is not to decry their efforts in winning the games they needed to, but Kenya and Zimbabwe are not there simply because of their on-field exploits.

Their presence in the Super Six is a by-product of political turmoil in southern Africa and a dubious set of tournament rules that do not cater for the elements.

The boycotts by England and New Zealand saw points awarded to the co-hosts as if they had won those games.

They in fact won nothing, yet under competition policy they will carry four golden points into the Super Six stage.

And when added to the points gained from other Group B matches, Kenya sit pretty in second before a game has even been played.


Former World Cup winner Michael Holding is a staunch detractor of the World Cup rules. "The Super Six were meant to be those teams that had played the best cricket and had finished in the top three positions in their respective groups," he said.

"But unfortunately the off-the-field activities have ensured that may not be the case.

"Should teams be allocated points as freely as this in such a prestigious and financially rewarding tournament?

"Should teams who have played their guts out be allowed to be sent home because another team pocketed unearned points and leapfrogged ahead of them?

"The simple answer is no."

We now have a situation where if Kenya beat Zimbabwe on 12 March, fifth-placed New Zealand will have to win each of their games against Australia, India and Zimbabwe to make the semi-finals.

Protesters speak out at the cricket against president Mugabe
The political uncertainty in southern Africa has impacted greatly

Even if Kenya win none of their Super Six games, they will still be semi-finalists if New Zealand lose twice.

Kenya, remember, is a side who lost to non-qualifying pair South Africa and West Indies by 10 wickets and 142 runs respectively.

They triumphed over Sri Lanka, who beat the Windies in an inequitable day-night affair despite being played off the park and then tied with South Africa after winning the toss again and batting first in a rain-hit day-nighter.

The Windies, and to a lesser extent South Africa, were victims of the system.

If not for Carl Hooper's side's abandoned match against Bangladesh, theirs would have been a very welcome presence in the Super Six.

The International Cricket Council cannot control the weather, but it can set aside a number of reserve days to give the World Cup the best chance to be resolved by the best teams.

Kenya and Zimbabwe are not to be begrudged; they are the innocent beneficiaries.

But there is no escaping the fact the ICC's flagship event is in a spiralling state of devaluation just when it should be getting good.

Ali Bacher of the World Cup organising committee
"Logistically it was impossible to have reserve days for the pool matches"

Super Six table
04 Mar 03 |  Tables & Averages
How the World Cup works
13 Feb 03 |  Tables & Averages


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