South Africa missed a huge chance 23 years ago and that chance was to win the ODI World Cup in 1999. Australia and South Africa locked horns with each other in the Super League match of the tournament. Australia was chasing a target of 272 runs to win and the problems for South Africa increased due to the drop of a catch. The catch was dropped by Herschelle Gibbs, one of the legendary fielders, and missed the chance to dismiss the opposition skipper, Steve Waugh.
Steve Waugh played an unbeaten 120 in that match and was adjudged the player of the match. Australia later went on to become world champions for the second time and South Africa had nothing but to grieve. There is an English proverb – Catches win Matches means that matches are won by grabbing catches. It sat perfectly on 13 June 1999.
Herschelle Gibbs was not only a former explosive opener of South Africa but also, he was counted among the best fielders in the world. Gibbs took 108 catches in 244 ODIs but luck was probably with Steve Waugh that day. That missed catch by Gibbs is still discussed today. What that catch was missed, South Africa’s dream of becoming the world champion remained unfulfilled, which has not been fulfilled till date.
The Super League match of the 1999 World Cup was played at Headingley. The South African team was one of the strong contenders, with legendary players like Gary Kirsten, Herschelle Gibbs, Jonty Rhodes, Hansie Cronje, Lance Klusener, Alan Donald, and Shaun Pollock. Batting first against Australia in the match, the South African team scored 271 runs for 7 wickets in 50 overs.
Here is the video of the dropped catch:
Opener Herschelle Gibbs played excellent innings of 101 runs in 134 balls. At the same time, Daryl Cullinan contributed 50 runs. Jonty Rhodes scored 39 and Lance Klusener amassed 36. The start of the Australian team, chasing the target, was very poor. Adam Gilchrist was bowled by Steve Elworthy after scoring 5 runs while Mark Waugh was run out on a personal score of 5. Damien Martyn also could not do anything special and after scoring 11 runs, he kept walking on the ball of Elworthy.
In this way Australia’s first 3 wickets fell to the score of 48 runs. After this, Ricky Ponting and skipper, Steve Waugh took over the command. Both shared a 126-run partnership for the fourth wicket. When Steve Waugh was playing on a personal score of 56, he missed a simple catch from Gibbs in his hand to bounce fast. At the same time, it has been rumored that, Waugh told Herschelle Gibbs – friend, you dropped the World Cup.
After missing the catch, Waugh scored a century and returned unbeaten after giving victory to the team. Waugh hit 10 fours and 2 sixes in 110 balls in that match. Australia won this match by 5 wickets with 2 balls to spare. In the semi-finals, both Australia and South Africa once again clashed with each other. Luck was not with the African team and the match was tied. Australia reached the final on the basis of better run rate