The Worst Team In The World

Welcome back to South Africa for the never ending ODI series. Sorry, triangular series. In this edition of Worst Team in the World On Tour we’ll play Zimbabwe and South Africa. For a change. The stupid format of this tournament is that the top two will play each other again in the final; inevitably South Africa and England. We’ll never stop playing them.

We’re top of the table so far but seeing as the top two playoff to find the winners, I’m not too concerned.

For Zimbabwe, that pitch looks a bit ropey…

Probably should play a spinner but I’ve decided not to. Zimbabwe have made one alteration, the dangerous Carlisle is out for Houghton.

Zimbabwe win the toss and put us in. It’s all a bit stodgy and with Lathwell dismissed early the tone is set. Atherton manages 34 which is the top score from the top four but when he’s out we are 57/4 and in a spot of bother. Thorpe and Habib rebuild us to 112/5 before Habib is ran out trying to force the run rate. But Ramprakash joins Thorpe and the pair also put on 99 before Ramps is run out going for the 100th. Wells and Thorpe continue to push the run rate and we end on a respectable 231/6. On a pitch like that, I’m happy enough.

Thorpe’s run a ball innings was vital but fair play to Ramprakash who really accelerated things.

Zimbabwe deal with our bowlers with consummate ease. These pitches really have been a medium pacers dream. DeFreitas may be in control but Headley is being hit about. Bulbeck arrives to sort things out. Ending the opening partnership on 66 before going on to remove Flower and Goodwin. Adam Hollioake takes care of the middle order and Wells weighs in to deal with the all rounders. 153/8; this is done. Or is it?

Streak and Strang shoulder arms and the run rate isn’t an issue. We need wickets. Bulbeck only has two overs left but with his very last delivers he tempts Strang into an edge behind. 216/9. It’s down to Wells and Headley from here and after 11th man Lock edges a few boundaries off Headley, I’m fearing the worst. Not to be denied, Headley traps Streak LBW and we win by 2 runs. Bloody hell!

That’s two wins over Zimbabwe, one with a ball to spare and now by 2 runs. Too close for comfort.

Zimbabwe were well ahead on the run rate throughout but we clawed it back with those wickets around 25 overs where you can see the run rate levelled off.

We’re soon back in action against South Africa. I’ve missed them. It looks like a decent batting wicket if you can see off the new ball under the clouds.

Unchanged again. Big changes for South Africa with Benks up to three and no Kallis.

We lost by 7 wickets last time we met so I’m delighted to win the toss and bat. Go thrashing, lads. Atherton and Lathwell start brilliantly. Pollock and Klusener take a right walloping but the medium pace of Craven again causes problems, removing Athers for 42. Stewart arrives and attacks and a 50 partnership is nearing when Craven again strikes, tempting Lathwell into an edge to slip. 115/2.

Hollioake supports Stewart who passes 50 but the partnership ends on 47 when Allan Donald clean bowls Hollioake for 19. Stewart is out for 81 attempting to hook Pryke but only skying a shot to cover but at 223/4, Thorpe and Habib can take some risks and even when Habib departs for 18, we can still scramble our way to 259. It’s competitive, it’s all I ask.

Will it be enough on a flat pitch? Liebenberg goes off like a rocket as usual and he and Gary Kirsten soon put on 50, but there’s some hope when Bulbeck and Hollioake remove them in quick succession. 78/2. The dangerous Benkenstein is joined by captain Cullinan and they too are going well but Hollioake traps Benks in front and at 122/3, I like our chances. Lance Klusener disagrees. He swings like a windmill and connects with unerring accuracy. Poor Vince takes the brunt but some hope is offered when Headley bowls Cullinan. Pollock and Klusener continue to swing though and it’s 239/5 by the time Wells temps Klusener into one slog too many. Almost there. Some well timed maidens keep it interesting but Craven hits the winning run in the last over.

I’m beginning to grow tired of these. You can see on the graph that things got out of hand when Klusener took over and the green line was well ahead of our blue one for the second half of the innings.

That leaves the table looking like this, with an England/South African final guaranteed.

Do join me next time for the last England/Zimbabwe game before the actual final between South Africa and ourselves. Really tired of playing them. See you then.