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World Cup 2003: A Hollywood Awards Ceremony

by Nimish Dubey
(nimishdubey@yahoo.com)


As the dust settles after the cricket World Cup, it is time to unlock the trophy cabinet and hand out a few awards to those who made an impact in cricket's premier event. So here's a look at the 2003 World Cup awards through Hollywood tinted glasses:

The Perfect Storm award for the most amazing batting performance:

Sachin Tendulkar gets this one for his devastating assault on the Pakistani bowling in the crucial league encounter. Not too many gave India a chance of getting 274 runs against an attack comprising Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar. Tendulkar changed all that with a whirlwind 98 off just 75 balls that left Pakistan stunned and ultimately cost the team a place in the Super Six.

The Twister award for the most stunning bowling effort:

Although Brett Lee and Shane Bond bowled phenomenally in the tournament, it is Sri Lankan Chaminda Vaas who pockets this category with his amazing spell of bowling. Bowling the opening over of the match against Bangladesh, Vaas took a wicket off each of his first three deliveries and then picked another one off the fifth to reduce Bangaldesh to 5-4 at the end of the first over of the match. It does not get more devastating than this!

The Rush Hour award for most amazing fielding:

Andy Bichel of Australia pockets this one with his sensational run out of Aravinda de Silva in the semi-finals. Bichel found enough energy to run several yards in front on him on his bowling follow-through to field a defensive prod, turn around in the air and break the wicket at the bowler's end with a great throw as he fell. Even Jackie Chan would have approved!

The Officer and a Gentleman award for the most sporting gesture:

Adam Gilchrist for walking back to the pavilion even when the umpire had ruled him 'not out' in the semi-final against Sri Lanka. It was a big match, he was batting well and the umpire had clearly indicated that he was not out. And yet the Australian opener chose to walk back to the pavilion. It is such actions that remind us that cricket was at one time a gentleman's game.

The Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid award for the most effective partnership:

This goes to the Australian duo of Michael Bevan and Andy Bichel who developed a penchant for digging their team out of trouble in crucial matches. In the league match against England, Australia were struggling at 135-8 before Bevan and Bichel added 73 runs to guide them to victory. Barely ten days later, Australia were laid low by an amazing spell of pace bowling by New Zealand's Shane Bond and at 84-7 were looking in danger of being bowled out for under three figures. Enter Bichel and Bevan. The pair added 97 runs to help the Aussies reach 208, setting the stage for yet another victory.

The Hollow Man award for the biggest non-performer:

Inzamam ul-Haq arrived at the World Cup with an awesome record and claiming to be lighter and fitter than ever before. He left it with a series of scores that read like a local telephone number- 6,4,0,0,6,3. That's a grand total of 19 runs in 6 matches. Compare that with his batting average of nearly 38 and you get an idea of just how badly he belied his reputation.

The Gods Must Be Crazy award for most complicated rule:

Messrs Duckworth-Lewis win this by a mile for their rain-rule which revises targets for matches affected by rain. By the end of the tournament, teams were struggling to make sense of the rationale behind the various formulae and batsmen went to the crease consulting pieces of paper. In fact, so daft was the rule that at one stage it gave India a chance of winning the World Cup if rain intervened, even if the team had scored less than half the runs scored by Australia. I rest my case.

The Castaway award for most unceremonious sacking:

Indian leg spinner Anil Kumble gets this one for the manner in which he was dumped from the Indian team after the match against Pakistan. Kumble's figures of 10-0-51-0 in that match had not been brilliant but then neither had those of his teammates. Strangely enough, that was the last one saw of one of India's most successful one-day bowlers. His replacements, Harbhajan Singh and sometimes Dinesh Mongia, did not exactly set the fields on fire with his performance, making Kumble's exclusion all the more surprising. Kumble of course, can draw solace from the fact that at least he got to play some matches. The trio of Bangar, Agarkar and Patel spent the entire tournament on the sidelines.

The Titanic award for most disastrous performance by a team:

Before the World Cup got under way every one was nominating Pakistan and South Africa as potential champions. South Africa in particular were many observers' firm favourites, given the fact that they were also hosting the event. As matters transpired, neither team was able to get past the first round. That gets them this award, although it comes too late to save the captaincy of Messrs. Pollock and Younis.

The Harry Potter award for most magical performance:

Kenya's veteran spinner Asif Karim gets this one for his wizardry against ultimate champions Australia in the Super Six. Defending a meagre total of 174, Kenya seemed well on their way to defeat as Australia got off to a whirlwind start and reached 109-2. The 39-year-old Karim then proceeded to bowl perhaps one of the greatest spells of spin bowling seen in World Cup history. He broke the back of the famous Aussie middle order and forced them to struggle for every run. He finished with figures of 8.2-6-7-3. Australia won the match by five wickets but it was Karim's day (or night) - a fact acknowledged even by umpire Steve Bucknor who shook his hand at the end of that magical spell.

The Carry on Abroad award for worst tourists:

New Zealand and England split this award for refusing to go to Kenya and Zimbabwe, respectively. Both teams cited security concerns for their decisions which came very late in the day and spelt financial disaster for the hosts and gave the entire tournament a wholly unnecessary twist. It may be considered some kind of divine justice that the decision to forfeit the matches cost both teams a chance to progress further in the tournament – England went out in the first round while New Zealand were pipped by Kenya to the semi-finals.

The X-Files award for most mysterious decision:

Indian captain Sourav Ganguly gets this award for his decision to bowl first after winning the toss in the final against Australia. This in spite of the fact that Australia have traditionally preferred to set targets rather than chase them and that India possessed one of the strongest batting line-ups in the world. Australia took the opportunity to amass 359-2 and effectively ended India's hopes of winning the World Cup. Maybe Ganguly will reveal the rationale behind his decision some day in the future. Until that time, it will rank as one of cricket's most baffling mysteries.

The Braveheart award for most heroic performance:

Andy Flower and Henry Olonga pick up this award for their courage in protesting against Robert Mugabe's rule in Zimbabwe. Both players were established members of the team and could have kept silent. However, they chose to make a protest by wearing black arm bands symbolising the death of democracy in their country during Zimbabwe's opening match. Their courage might have cost them their careers. Andy Flower has announced his retirement and migrated to England while Olonga managed to dodge the police and is now believed to be seeking political asylum in England.

The Saturday Night Fever award for best celebratory routine:

Australian pace bowler Brett Lee gets this for his strange genset-starting gesture that accompanies the fall of every wicket claimed by him. He bends forward and seems to vigorously tug an invisible string attached to the ground. Looks eccentric but it sure makes a difference from the normal fist-pumping and high fives.

The Flashdance award for best dance performance on the pitch:

Awarded to New Zealand umpire Billy Bowden for adding a balletic touch to routine umpiring signals. He must shake a neat foot on the dance floor!

The Psycho award for most insane moment on the field:

There are a host of nominations for this one, but it should go to Indian pace bowler Zaheer Khan for his performance in the final. After bowling a good delivery in the opening over of the match, he went down the pitch and had a word or two with Australia's Matthew Hayden. Hayden promptly took a stick to his bowling and Zaheer disintegrated, conceding 15 runs in the over. He never recovered, and neither did India. If ever a team was undone by a momentary lapse of reason, this was it.

The Miracle on 34th Street award for the luckiest team:

Some observers may feel that this one should go to Kenya but a closer look reveals that the Kenyans did after all get the better of the likes of Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. No, if there was a lucky team in this tournament, it was Zimbabwe. Thanks to England's decision to forfeit its match against them and rain washing out their match against Pakistan's, Zimbabwe got into the Super Six in spite of winning only against minnows Holland and Namibia! That they lost all their three matches in the Super Six only shows how lucky they were to get that far.

The For a few Dollars More award for most disgusting display of greed:

Goes to an Indian TV channel that encouraged its viewers to contribute money to a jackpot which would be given to the Indian team if it won the World Cup. The channel itself contributed Rs. 1 crore (approximately US$ 2,10,000) to the 'cause'. Just shows how much faith some people have in the power of money!

The Cinderella award for most sensational success story:

Australia may have won the World Cup and India may have finished runners-up, but if the team which made the news was undoubtedly Kenya. Written off as minnows before the tournament began, the Kenyans stunned Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and gave more than a few nightmares to India and Australia while making the semi-finals. An awesome performance from a team that does not even enjoy Test status and which has no first-class cricket structure to speak of. And that gets them the award.

The Bad Boys award for most ill-mannered team :

Pakistan win this one by a mile. Shoaib Akhtar made a mockery of decorum by turning interviews into an exercise of self-promotion, singing praises of himself and deriding the opposition. Shahid Afridi was then hauled up by his own cricket board for abusing Indian batsmen.Inzamam ul-Haq then topped matters by scuffling with his teammates during a practice football match! Who said cricket is a gentleman's game?

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