South Africa v Australia: Cricket World Cup 2023 semi-final – live | Cricket World Cup 2023
36th over: South Africa 139-6 (Miller 59, Coetzee 9) Maxwell undoes a terrific over with a half-tracker that Miller belabours through midwicket for four. He screams with frustration at giving away such a cheap boundary.
The other concern for South Africa is that, whatever target they set, the ultra-aggressive pair of Travis Head and David Warner could end the contest before the spinners on. It’s a fascinating struggle; we’re at the sweet spot where it’s possible to envisage a crushing win for one team, a nerve-shredding win for the other or anything in between.
35th over: South Africa 134-6 (Miller 55, Coetzee 8) A flighted half-volley from Head is spanked to the cover boundary by Coetzee. Later in the over Miller is beaten by a ripper, the kind of delivery Muttiah Muralitharan would have happily called his own. If Travis Head is doing that, Keshav Maharaj – the world’s No1 bowler – should have exceedingly moist lips.
“What’s the best format possible for a World Cup?” says Arul Kanhere. “Given it should ensure enough jeopardy and an increased number of teams while finishing in under 30 days.”
I would start with the ideal that no team should be able to lose more than two games and still win the competition, then work back from there. I guess that would mean four groups of four, which will never happen for obv£io$ reasons. And even four groups of four is not ideal. As in rugby, the current balance of power makes it very difficult to find a good format.
34th over: South Africa 129-6 (Miller 55, Coetzee 3) With Coetzee getting his eye in, Maxwell hurries through another over. One ball turns sharply to hit Coetzee just outside the line; the next goes straight on to take the edge and fly past Inglis for a single. It’s spinning out there.
33rd over: South Africa 125-6 (Miller 54, Coetzee 2) Travis Head skids one past Coetzee’s outside edge. Two from the over, which was completed in about two minutes. That’s drinks.
32nd over: South Africa 125-6 (Miller 53, Coetzee 1) Now Maxwell gets one to rag past Miller’s outside edge. There’s a stumping referral after good work from Inglis, but Miller’s back foot went nowhere. South Africa have two proper spinners plus Aidan Markram, so even a modest score of around 200 might be competitive. They’ll regret it forever if they fold for 150-odd.
Their best hope of reaching a half-decent score is David Miller. He lashes Maxwell through extra cover for four to reach an aggressive, fiercely determined half-century from 70 balls.
31st over: South Africa 119-6 (Miller 48, Coetzee 0) Coetzee survives the hat-trick ball, another big offbreak. Head turned it more in that over than Zampa and Maxwell combined, which suggests Keshav Maharaj will be South Africa’s key bowler.
Klaasen will be filthy about his dismissal. He’s such a good player of spin and had spanked 25 off the previous 13 deliveries. And then he went and spoiled it all by doing something stupid like missing a straight one.
Jansen pushed outside the line of a big offbreak that hit him on the kneeroll in front of off stump. He reviewed apologetically, almost sheepishly, and replays confirmed what he already knew: it was hitting leg stump and South Africa lose a review. More to the point, Travis Head is on a World Cup semi-final hat-trick!
Marco Jansen has gone first ball! He’s reviewed it but this looks plumb.
Good captaincy from Pat Cummins, who decides to save Adam Zampa’s last five overs in the hope that one or both of these batters will have buggered off by the time he returns.
One of them is buggering off as we speak! Heinrich Klaasen smashed the occasional offspinner Travis Head for consecutive boundaries but then played defensively down the wrong line and was cleaned up. A peculiar shot to end an excellent innings of 47 from 48 balls.
30th over: South Africa 111-4 (Klaasen 39, Miller 48) “There’s so many complaints from Joe Punter about the tournament format,” says Ben Bernards. “Would some of those complainers like to put in writing their preferred format, and which ills it would remedy? There are at any given moment six teams – at best – who have any realistic chance of winning the big cup, and we saw here that England and Pakistan were never at the races.
“With such a miserable diet of ODI cricket being played, you can’t realistically base a two-group stage on rankings or you could quite feasibly end up with your big guns lumped into the same side of the draw. It’s grumbling for the sake of it IMO until some bright spark shows me the light of their superior proposal.”
If you can find a time machine I’ll go back to 2003 and ask Martin Williamson. I agree that the balance of very good/good teams makes this awkward, but the league stage is too long and doesn’t have enough jeopardy. Dammit, man, give me jeopardy.
29th over: South Africa 108-4 (Klaasen 37, Miller 47) Smith misses a run-out chance. Klaasen took a dodgy single to mid-off and was just short when Smith’s throw flashed past the stumps. Klaasen collided with Zampa afterwards, and there’s a short break in play while he receives treatment. He’s fine.
Zampa, not so much. He bowls a high full toss that is blootered over midwicket for six by Miller. Zampa has been unusually ragged, probably because he’s conscious of his poor head-to-head records against Klaasen and Miller. Figures of 5-0-40-0 won’t improve it.
28th over: South Africa 100-4 (Klaasen 36, Miller 40) Maxwell changes ends and is milked for five runs. It’s interesting that South Africa are going after the specialist spinner rather than the second in command. I suppose they have happy memories of batting against Zampa.
27th over: South Africa 95-4 (Klaasen 35, Miller 35) Zampa replaces Maxwell, who raced through a spell of 3-0-4-0 – and Klaasen jumps all over him with successive sixes. Both deliveries were only slightly short, but Klaasen rocked back to maul them over midwicket.
This is an admirable response to extreme adversity from Klaasen and Miller, who have added 71 in 15 overs.
26th over: South Africa 81-4 (Klaasen 22, Miller 35) Cummins switches around the wicket to Miller, who clatters a couple through the covers. Batting looks more comfortable now, and South Africa will constantly be revising what they think is a competitive score.
“Rob, why is it you dislike ODIs as a format?” says Isaac Forster. “For me they strike a good balance between the ridiculous T20 and Hundred thrash and the more circumspect aspects of Tests. If a bowler is on a tear an ODI has enough time to allow the batters to defend and rebuild later. Similarly as bowlers have more overs to use, the skipper can match their bowlers up more effectively with an opposition’s individual batters, to limit their damage. The only format change I would make is to ditch the two new balls and go back to one, to reintroduce reverse swing at the back end of an innings.”
Sorry, I meant I dislike the World Cup format in which all the teams play each other. A good ODI, whether a festival of boundaries or a sub-250 dogfight, can be a joy. I like Ricky Ponting’s idea re: the balls. Use two new ones to maintain the hardness but switch to a single ball after 35 overs to enable reverse.
25th over: South Africa 79-4 (Klaasen 22, Miller 33) “That 1999 semi-final has informed the general psyche of all Australian sporting teams,” writes Chris Paraskevas. “I have replayed the final over endlessly on You Tube, rather than the final – which is the game I actually watched as a kid… an underrated win which set the template for Australia’s ruthlessness in the format.
“The run-out speaks to everything that underpins the mythology of our sporting spirit: playing to the final whistle and believing the ball will bounce in your favour, especially against the mathematical odds. It wasn’t just that SA melted down epically: an image of the Aussies circling like sharks around the stumps should be (and probably is) on display permanently display in the National Museum of Australia…”
It’s fascinating that half the Australian players didn’t even know they had gone through. They just knew they hadn’t lost, and that was enough of a reason to go mad.
24th over: South Africa 77-4 (Klaasen 21, Miller 32) There are echoes of past semi-finals elsewhere. Right now Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller are playing Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan in 1999,. That pair added 90; Klaasen brings up the fifty partnership here by cutting Cummins decisively over point for four.
The pitch, as Ricky Ponting notes on commentary, is playing better now. I thought South Africa were gone at 22 for four but this pair have given them a chance.
23rd over: South Africa 71-4 (Klaasen 16, Miller 31) Maxwell screams in vain for LBW when Miller is late on defensive push. It was definitely pad-first but he was outside the line. Another tight over from Maxwell, one from it.
22nd over: South Africa 70-4 (Klaasen 16, Miller 30) Klaasen mistimes a pull off Cummins that lands well short of deep midwicket. Miller, who looks busier and is batting with more rhythm, steals a run on the off side.
“Not that the ICC are like this,*” begins Andy Flintoff, “but like FIFA, they’re choosing a format for the World Cup with lots of games in the group stages to reduce the chances of the big teams failing to qualify, which means there are lots of games that don’t have much riding on them.
“The only interest in this tournament that persisted was the fact that it was suddenly discovered that only the top seven would qualify for some almost-meaningless ODI not-World Cup in the next cycle, so there was a possibility that big teams (and England) wouldn’t make it.
“ * They are definitely like this.”
I blame the millions of cricket fans who dined out on schadenfreude when India lost to Bangladesh in 2007.
21st over: South Africa 68-4 (Klaasen 15, Miller 29) Maxwell replaces Zampa, who was Millered for 18 from his three overs. A quiet over, just one from it. Maxwell has an outstanding economy rate in this tournament, just below five an over.
20th over: South Africa 67-4 (Klaasen 14, Miller 29) Cummins replaces Hazlewood at the Let The Pitch Do The Work End. Klaasen, hitherto restrained, drives a simple single into the off side. Miller is the one doing the heavy lifting at the moment, and he moves to 29 with an emphatic clip through midwicket for four.
This pair have added 43 either side of the rain break. There’s still a long way to go but they’ve made a start. Perhaps the rain delay helped them more than Australia.
19th over: South Africa 62-4 (Klaasen 13, Miller 25) One more wicket would break this open for Australia. While the No7 Marco Jansen is a dangerous death hitter, I’m not sure he’s a 70/5 man.
Miller drives Zampa handsomely over wide long-on for six more, a brave and decisive stroke. South Africa have to take a piece of somebody if they are to win this game – Zampa isn’t the easiest man to attack, but it looks like Miller is going after anything tossed up.
“Just read that,” says Pete Salmon, “and I have to say that the final line – ‘and victory came from a no-ball’ – is one of the funniest I’ve ever read. Already thinking of the wonderful bathos I can add to any situation by quoting it – at a crime scene, or at the end of a bad date the moment she leaves. Or perhaps at the end of this match?”
Or an episode of EastEnders, a millisecond.
18th over: South Africa 55-4 (Klaasen 12, Miller 19) Even the algorithms are trolling South Africa: the official score predictor reckons they are on course to make 213,in this fixture.
It looks like South Africa have decided to see Hazlewood off unless he bowls a rank bad ball, which he won’t. It’s another maiden, this time to Miller, who is hit painfully on the glove by a short ball. Hazlewood has stunning figures of 8-3-12-2; they don’t flatter him.
17th over: South Africa 55-4 (Klaasen 12, Miller 19) Miller muscles Zampa over long-on for the first six of the match. South Africa aren’t quite out of this, but they need Klaasen and Miller to bat for at least the next 15 overs.
“I’m struck by how poorly Bavuma is playing in this World Cup,” writes Nick, “particularly given he was in good form against Australia just prior. My question: of teams that have reached the semi-finals of a World Cup, is this the worst performance by a batting captain?”
I’m afraid that dubious honour goes to another South African, Hansie Cronje in 1999. His scores were 27, 8, 16, 4, 4, 39, 0 and 0, though he was wrongly given out in the semi-final.
16th over: South Africa 46-4 (Klaasen 11, Miller 11) Selfless stuff from Pat Cummins, who replaces himself with Josh Hazlewood. He knows that Hazlewood, having had half an hour’s rest, is the most dangerous bowler in these conditions. It sounds obvious but there are plenty of bowling captains would have wanted a piece of the pie for themselves.
Klaasen pushes nervously, feet stuck in cement, and is beaten outside off stump. An immaculate maiden from Hazlewood.
“Wouldn’t it be lovely if SA finished around 250-280, setting up a good ol’ fashioned ODI chase for Aus under lights?” says Anand. “As someone who watched a lot of cricket in the 1990s, there is a certain allure to those ODI chases.”
Better still, why not?
15th over: South Africa 46-4 (Klaasen 11, Miller 11) Zampa immediately skids one past Miller, pushing nervously outside off stump. Two from the over.
South Africa need to bat their 50 overs, not just to get as many runs as possible but to increase the (admittedly small) chance of the game being washed out.
Here we go again. The players are back out on the field, and Adam Zampa is coming on to replace Mitchell Starc.
“It’s such a shame that while this tournament has featured some genuinely exhilarating play (Maxwell, Gurbaz, de Kock, everything India has done), so little of it has coincided with the other side also playing well,” says Mike Jakeman. “I know you’re a bit more forgiving of this format than I am, but I think it is pretty sad that we now have a single game left in which we might see a genuine thriller.
“One of the weaknesses of T20 is that the games are so compressed that there is a large element of randomness as to which team wins on any given day. ODIs are supposed to have a bit more breathing space and ebb-and-flow. But we’ve seen so little of that. Having said all that, if India win the toss and bat against Australia on Sunday, the first ten overs will be gripping, even if the rest of the match is not.”
It’s been the poorest World Cup I can remember apart from 2007. I’ve grown to dislike this format, and I wonder if we have a rose-tinted view of 1992 because England did so well and Pakistan were so exhilarating. Ultimately the league stage of that competition was pretty predictable as well – New Zealand and England cruised through and South Africa clinched their place with a game to spare (I think).
In 2027 there will be two groups of seven, which isn’t great either. We’ve been having this discussion for as long as I can remember. During the 2003 World Cup, my Wisden.com editor Martin Williamson came up with a format that seemed perfect. Neither of us wrote it down, and neither of us could remember it when the subject next came up.
“Look at it this way,” says John Starbuck. “Your article in today’s Big Paper will benefit from the idiocies of today’s match, whoever wins/loses, and you’ll be able to reproduce it as a podcast too. The rain not even raining properly is just an extra element added for spice.”
It’s weird – I’m a neutral but I find the end of that 1999 semi-final almost chilling in its intensity and cruelty, much more so than the 2019 final. The depth and breadth of South Africa’s World Cup trauma might be unprecedented in elite sport, and this could be another new twist: the unseasonal Kolkata weather that turned a toss South Africa were so desperate to win into a good toss to lose.
The covers are coming off and, unless it rains again, the match will resume in just over 10 minutes.
“Hi Rob,” writes Paul Walsh from Kolkata. “Still a little rain in the air, very unseasonal. Catching up with street chowmin from next to Crow Field, our rugby pitch on the Maidan!”
If it does rain for the next 36 hours,
it’ll be karmic payback for Old Trafford South Africa will go through. Imagine if, after all that brilliant cricket and all those heartbreaking near misses, they finally reached a World Cup final after being sliced and diced by Australia’s new-ball bowlers.
It’s still raining, so I’m off to grab a coffee. Be back in a bit. Meanwhile, here are some more of your emails.
“Being an Australian in a wet, cold, rural Somerset is sometimes not much fun,” writes Cath Hanley, “but I think my day is brightening …”
“At the alliteratively appealing 44-4 off 14 (to which for good measure my brother added ‘FFS’ in his text),” begins Brian Withington, “where does this fit in the pantheon of great tosses to lose?”
“Hello Rob,” says Krishnamoorthy V. “Looks like it will be a T20 game even without the rain!”
“It occurs to me that if Australia wanted to be really cruel, like a cat toying with its prey, having bowled SA out for say, 50, they could slowly accumulate the 51 required to win at one run per over, for 49 overs, with two runs from the final over, perhaps even the final ball,” says Kim Thonger. “Do they have that sadistic streak in them? Hmmm.”
It has happened before,.
“I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking, ‘Are Australia in danger of pulling out the perfect game one match too soon?’” says Scott Probst. “A bit like the English beating the All Blacks in the rugby World Cup in Japan and then going down to South Africa without a great showing in the next game? Thoughts?”
My first thought is that the sporting psyches of the two countries are very different. Historically, Australia are more likely to follow a perfect performance with an even better one.
“Been a bit late checking the scores today,” says Anand. Has anyone blamed anyone else for changing the weather for this match?”
1992 World Cup draft
These podcasts are lots of fun to record. If you’re a cricket nerd, you’ll like them. And if you’re not, just vote for somebody to get our poll moving.
“G’day Rob,” writes Chris Paraskevas. “Only catching my first glimpses of this because Australia v Bangladesh has had prime slot on the tele till now (for clarification: that’s a game of football). Is it fair to say that Australia are doing their best nationalmannschaft impersonation and peaking at precisely the right moment? Starc in particular is so adept at timing his rhythm and buildup at major tournaments – his consistency in the big games is unreal. He and Hazlewood don’t click anywhere near enough at ODI level, but when they do… few pairs are better.”
The intensity of this performance has been mildly frightening – not just the bowling but also the brilliant, aggressive fielding of Warner and Labuschagne. They saved five or six boundaries between them.
It doesn’t seem too bad so hopefully it will only be a short stoppage. South Africa will hope it rains for the next 36 hours: if there’s no result they will go through
on a vile technicality by virtue of finishing higher in the league stage.
14th over: South Africa 44-4 (Klaasen 10, Miller 10) Pat Cummins replaces Hazlewood, who bowled a masterful Test-match spell of 6-1-12-2. His first ball is driven crisply through extra cover for four by Klaasen, who then steals a second run on the leg side. That kind of controlled positivity is South Africa’s only chance of getting back into this match.
Miller, who looks understandably nervous, chips Cummins just short of Hazlewood at mid-on, with the ball bouncing past him for four. Time for drinks. South Africa need a stiff one.
“It’s easy to say with hindsight that Bavuma shouldn’t have batted first in muggy overhead conditions but perhaps it wouldn’t have taken that much foresight to have imagined the consequences of facing Starc, Hazelwood and co in this context,” says Colum Fordham. “I am rooting for South Africa but unless Miller and Klaasen play special innings, this match is virtually over. The Proteas’ woes are being compounded by the Australian’s stunning fielding.”
It was a fiendishly difficult decision because South Africa are so much better batting first. And although it’s muggy, you never know how much the ball will move until you get out there. I still think he made the right decision at the time, though I appreciate that sounds absurd at 40-odd for four.
13th over: South Africa 32-4 (Klaasen 3, Miller 5) Klaasen chips Starc just short of cover. This is Starc’s seventh over, apparently the longest spell of his ODI career. He’s starting to tire a little and will probably be replaced after this over.
“Baby it’s cold outside,” says Sarah Bacon. “but I’m feeling all gooey and warm from the marvellous start Oz has made this morning. I really do need to leave – have to drop the car in to be serviced – but with South Africa’s run-rate hovering around TWO after 12 overs, it’d be churlish to depart, amirite? And FOUR wickets down is just … staggeringly good.”
They’ve been magnificent.
12th over: South Africa 28-4 (Klaasen 1, Miller 4) David Miller edges his first ball just short of slip, with the ball bouncing through for four runs. Just as in, Australia have surely won the game with the ball in the first hour.
Australia’s bowling has been relentless. People will talk about South Africa bottling another semi-final, but even India would struggle cope with this. It was another immaculate delivery from Hazlewood that van der Dussen, pushing defensively, edged straight to second slip. He fought desperately hard to survive, but the drip-drip effect became too much.
My days, this is brutal.
11th over: South Africa 22-3 (van der Dussen 5, Klaasen 0) Mitchell Starc has figures of 6-1-14-2, and I don’t know what else to say.
Markram sliced an impatient drive to backward point, where Warner held a sharp two-handed catch to his left, threw the ball up and did a jaunty little dance on the spot. Australia have been fantastic.