• Dawson: ’99 squad wasn’t used well

    Former Proteas seamer Alan Dawson shares memories about a general lack of rotational selection at the ’99 World Cup, an upset loss to Zimbabwe, that infamous run-out against Australia, and more, writes JONHENRY WILSON.

    Dawson was not initially named to the squad, but he eventually replaced fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, who was sidelined due to accusations of a criminal offence, which were later overturned.

    Dawson and two others didn’t play a match at the World Cup, as South Africa deployed only 12 of the 15-man squad.

    ‘I thought I had a really good chance of getting picked for the World Cup – and I was obviously very, very disappointed when I wasn’t picked in the original squad. I had just had a fantastic domestic season – and did very well for the South Africa A side. That was that, but things happened off the field, and I got a late call,’ Dawson told SA Cricket magazine.

    ‘It had obviously broke in the news – and when I looked at my phone I had about 60 or 70 missed calls or messages. It was a nice surprise for me, but obviously not great for Makhaya.

    ‘As it transpired, although I was in the squad, I didn’t end up playing any World Cup matches anyway. There wasn’t much communication to us. It was almost like, if you weren’t going to play, you were going to stay out of the loop. There were not too many discussions, but it was difficult to contribute to team discussions when you weren’t really in the picture – and were not going to get selected.

    ‘South Africa have won two major tournaments since readmission – the 1998 ICC KnockOut Trophy in Bangladesh and the Commonwealth Games, which Dale Benkenstein and I were a part of, so we knew how to cope with the big pressure situations.

    ‘It ended up that Dale, myself and Derek Crookes never played at that World Cup. There were minor games we could have played in. If you look at countries that have won the World Cup, they used all 15 of their squad. We went and played a minor game against Kenya, in Amstelveen in Holland, where a Western Province B side would have beaten them. In that game we fielded a full-strength side and didn’t rest anyone – and then Jacques Kallis got injured in the match.’

    Zimbabwe beat India and South Africa at the 1999 World Cup. The latter result was later compounded by defeat to Australia in the Super Sixes stage, when Dawson was overlooked for spinner Nicky Boje.

    ‘Against Zimbabwe, all the wives arrived before the game and the guys were not focused on cricket. Again, we picked our best side for that game – and lost to Zimbabwe. We continued to not use the squad system well. Then we got to Headingley, which historically would not favour spinners,’ added Dawson.

    ‘Kallis was not available, and spinner Nicky was chosen. He proved very expensive in that game. It’s not sour grapes, but I should have played in that game against the Aussies before we played them in the semi-final. I was bowling well, but I didn’t get selected.’

    South Africa met the Australians four days later, this time in the semi-final at Edgbaston in Birmingham. While openers Gary Kirsten and Herchelle Gibbs failed to convert promising starts, middle-order pair Hansie Cronje and Daryll Cullinan failed before Kallis and fellow all-rounder Shaun Pollock brought the pursuit back on track.

    Ultimately, though, the dangerous Lance Klusener and tailender Allan Donald were unable to secure the final single required to push South Africa into the final. Instead, Australia progressed – and beat Pakistan to take the title.

    ‘Donald should never have been needed with the bat. If the batsmen had applied themselves properly and not been overawed by the Australians, we could have won. I feel sorry for Allan and Lance. Lance had an incredible World Cup. He was phenomenal, but they still get blamed. It’s wrong, just wrong,’ concluded Dawson.

    Photo: Gallo Images

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