Euro 2020 Special

South Africa vs Zimbabwe World Cup Match Descends into Farce

The South Africa vs Zimbabwe match will go down in the record books as an abandoned match with both teams taking a point each from their Super 12 match.

However, that does not begin to tell the whole story of a game that was badly affected by the weather in Hobart before the umpires finally called it off.

Neither side was left happy at the end. South Africa felt that they were denied what seemed a certain victory, whilst Zimbabwe – who had qualified from the same group as The West Indies, Scotland, and Ireland – were of the opinion that they were asked to play in conditions that were too dangerous and that there was a high risk of injury.


Hobart rain

Persistent but light rain in the Hobart area delayed the start of the match for two and a half overs and, when it did start, it was reduced to nine overs a side. That was enough under the rules of the competition to constitute a match as a minimum of five overs a side must be bowled by each team.


Match recap

The situation initially got into the head of the Zimbabwe batters after they won the toss and chose to bat first. They seemed almost intent on throwing their wickets away against the South African seamers and were soon four down with just 19 runs on the board.

It took Wesley Madhevere and Milton Sumba to bring some resemblance of order to proceedings with a stand of 60 for the fifth wicket, which took their side to 79/5 from their allotted overs with Madhevere unbeaten at the end on 35.

South Africa seemed determined to reach their target in double quick time and opener Quinton de Kock started at a blistering pace, scoring 23 off the first over.

But the conditions were quickly becoming unplayable. Zimbabwe pace bowler Richard Ngarava slipped and injured his thigh in his follow through, and in a bid to ensure that their pace bowlers came to no further harm, Zimbabwe opted to use only spin.

Wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva also slipped as he tried to field a leg side delivery, and although the umpires Michael Gough and Ahsan Raza tried to carry on, the players had clearly seen enough.

With South Africa 51 without loss at the start of the 4th over, spinner Sean Williams stuck out an arm in protest. And after consultation, the players left the field never to return. It was then decided to call off the match.


The Zimbabwe view

The Zimbabwe view is that the match should never have started in the first place, and that whilst there is an understandable need to get games played for the watching public at home and in the stands, the mark was overstepped on this occasion.

There are concerns now about the participation of Ngarava in the rest of the tournament. He had to be assisted from the field after his fall and was then lying in the dressing room with a bag office strapped to his ankle.

It is not known yet as to whether he will be available for the next game.


The South African perspective

The South African perspective is predictably somewhat different and they feel they were hard done by and that they were denied a certain victory.

That lost point could yet make all the difference in the event that the final group placings are close to determine who progresses to the knockout stages.

Having played four-fifths of the game, it seemed unjust not to complete it.


Did the umpires get it wrong?

The umpires have since come in for their fair share of criticism with the safety of the players seeming to have been criticised.

To be fair to them, they were under pressure from organisers and broadcasters to play the game but the final scenes were not a good look for cricket and the World Cup.

There comes a point when rain simply must stop play.


What happens next

The two teams are next in action on Thursday. South Africa will take on Bangladesh at the Sydney Cricket Ground, whilst Zimbabwe meet Pakistan in Perth.

Fortunately, the weather forecast for Thursday appears better and both games should be uninterrupted.

However, with Australia experiencing an unseasonal amount of rain for this time of year, weather could still have a major and unwelcome part to play in what happens in the rest of this tournament.




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