Proteas legend Lance Klusener says that he and Allan Donald should feel no guilt about the 1999 World Cup run-out, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The date 17 June will always be remembered as the day a very talented South African cricket side suffered a heart-breaking exit at the hands of eventual champions Australia in the semi-final stage of the 1999 World Cup in Birmingham.
The Proteas needed just nine to win off the last over, but Klusener quickly put his side on the brink with two consecutive fours off Damien Fleming. Donald was then let off when a run-out was narrowly averted at the non-strikers end as Darren Lehman missed from short range. But the calamitous ending to the South African cause came the next ball after another mix-up.
A draw was enough for Australia to advance after they finished higher in the super six table on net run rate. Donald recently revealed the hardship he felt after that heart-breaking moment on the eve of the 2019 World Cup.
‘My wife burned letters that were written to me, a lot of abuse was flying around. I had to deal with all of that and I had to deal with the guilt, so to speak, of not making that happen,’ said Donald.
Klusener, speaking exclusively to SACricketmag.com, also revisited the moment that crushed South African hearts.
‘I don’t [feel guilt] and I don’t think Allan should either,’ said Klusener. ‘It was never ever his job [to go bat], it probably wasn’t my job either. We only had to chase 213.
‘The top six batters are who we have to ask questions about. As a batting unit, our top order never scored enough runs and that’s why guys like Boucher, Polly, Boje and myself had to do what we did [big-hitting in pressure situations].
‘It’s easy to look at Allan and myself, but I think the real questions of that World Cup need to be aimed at the batting unit for not scoring enough runs. That really was the problem. Eventually, it catches up to you.
‘You can get away with it once or twice and someone can play a great innings. You can get away with it and scrape through, but you can’t do that for the whole two months. It eventually catches up to you and that’s what happened to us.’
Klusener was named as the Player of the Tournament after scoring a remarkable 281 runs at an average of 140.50 that included two half-centuries and his 31 off 16 balls in the infamous semi-final against Australia.
He also took 17 wickets in the tournament at an average of 20.58 and an economy of 4.61.
Photo: Phil Cole/Allsport/GettyImages