Probuddha Bhattacharjee ∙ Aug 22 2022, 8:30 PM

What if..? Herschelle Gibbs held onto Steve Waugh’s catch..

image-l756l13mSteve Waugh and Shaun Pollock (PC: Twitter)

The year is 1999, it is the 31st over in the final super six match of the World Cup. Lance Klusener is bowling and Australia are stationed at 152 for 3, with Steve Waugh batting in the middle. 

Before going further lets get a bit of backdrop, South Africa batted first in the match and posted a total of 271 runs from their 50 overs. In the chase, the Aussies were in a pickle at 48 for 3 when Steve Waugh, the commander in chief of the Australian team walked out to bat. 

Now, let us return to where the story started, Klusener bowled a good length delivery on the middle stump which Waugh flicked straight into the hands of Herschelle Gibbs, fielding at short mid-wicket. But, Gibbs dropped it!!!!! He dropped a dolly to say the least.

Steve Waugh made sure that South Africa paid the highest price for the drop. He scored 120 runs off 110 balls and the Men in Yellow won the match by 5 wickets in the last over of the match. 

So, what if….. Gibbs held on to the catch?

South Africa have won the 1999 World Cup

After Steve Waugh was dismissed in the 31st over of the final super six match, the Aussies failed to chase down the target and South Africa won the match.

image-l756d59lAustralian team with 1999 World Cup Trophy (PC: Twitter)

Courtesy of their win in the match, the Proteas made it to the finals of the tournament in spite of tying the semi final match (as fortunes would have it against Australia). In the finals, South Africa defeated Pakistan to become the World Champions for the first time. 

South Africa never came to be called ‘the chokers’

image-l756geajSouth Africa lost a close match (PC: Twitter)

After winning the 1999 World Cup, South Africa has become a force to reckon with in the ODI format of cricket. The win built a cricketing culture in the nation where they emerged on the right side in many tight games and managed to hold their nerves in crunch situations. 

The era of the ‘Mighty Aussies’ never started

image-l756hms2Australia celebrating after beating South Africa (PC: Twitter)

The fortunes prevented the Aussies from winning the 1999 World Cup. This affected the psychology of the whole team, a great team on the papers failed to perform and win as many trophies as was expected of them. 

Though they managed to win the World Cup in 2003, it has been an on and off performance for them mostly in the multinational tournaments. 

So, one catch could have changed so much in the history of our beloved game. The mighty Aussies might have been nipped in the bud even before they originated. But alas, Gibbs dropped an unexpected catch and with that tides of the time turned and made the cricketing history known as it is today. 

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