The 1999 World Cup Semi-Final Ratings – Darren Lehmann

at 2017.06.09
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Between 27 May, 1999 and 16 March, 2011, Australia played 34 completed Cricket World Cup matches. They won 33 of them.

Here are the ratings for the one game they didn’t win.

Darren Lehmann
Grade: B+

The 1966 Batman television show is one of the greatest feats of art in any medium. It is a work of comedy genius disguised as a superhero television show for children. A show that took one of the darkest superheroes of them all and reimagined him as a colourful straight-man in a wonderland of camp.

Close enough

Close enough

Darren Lehmann was the Adam West of the Australian cricket team of the era. Or, at the very least, his nickname was a Batman sound effect. Which is close enough, surely.

Bear with me here.

Like the Batman of the 1966 TV show, Lehmann didn’t look like what we think of as a modern interpretation of that role. From a purely visual perspective, the differences between the Darren Lehmann physique and, say, the Shane Watson or Andrew Symonds physique were almost as enormous as the differences between Adam West and Christian Bale/Ben Affleck.

But that’s fine. Because, in both the Adam West and Darren Lehmann cases, neither were reliant on brute force in quite the same way that future occupants of their role would embrace. Instead, both West and Lehmann relied more on timing – deadpan comic timing in the former case, and skilful stroke-play timing in the latter.

And just as Adam West was surrounded by more famous stars of the era, popping in to chew the scenery as villains or people who poked their heads out windows, Lehmann was surrounded by superstars of his era too.

The 1966 Batman was visited by Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr, Dick Clark, Vincent Price, Liberace, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Joan Collins and Bruce motherfucking Lee amongst others.

Lehmann? He was cast in a team that featured Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting and Michael Bevan, playing against Jacques Kallis, Lance Klusener, Hansie Cronje, Allan Donald and more.

And yet, just as Batman always ultimately emerged triumphant above the more famous visitors to his show, it was Lehmann who successfully concluded two consecutive World Cups ahead of his more illustrious team mates and competitors.

Three days after this semi-final against South Africa, it was Lehmann who hit the winning runs against Pakistan to clinch the 1999 World Cup for Australia.

Four years after that, it was Lehmann again. This time taking the match-winning catch against India to victoriously conclude Australia’s undefeated 2003 World Cup campaign.

Later on, of course, he became Australia’s coach, taking over from Mickey Arthur just prior to the first leg of the twin Ashes series of 2013 and 2013/14.

That first leg ended with the cricket series equivalent of being strapped to a ludicrously giant set of bails that was about to be incinerated and poured into an equally ludicrous giant Ashes urn, as England won the series 3-0 and retained the Ashes.

But Lehmann escaped from that devilish trap and pulled a rampaging Mitchell Johnson from his utility belt to defeat diabolical fiend The Cook, along with his myriad of henchmen, in a 5-0 Ashes whitewash on the return leg.

In the process, Lehmann’s legacy was established. Masterminding the recovery of the Ashes earned him enough goodwill to survive future failures of the Test team, including unexpectedly losing those same Ashes just a couple of years later. From that point on, Lehmann would be remembered more for his coaching than his playing.

But that was all in Darren Lehmann’s future.

Back in July 17, in this 1999 World Cup semi-final, Lehmann had just arrived at the crease following Ricky Ponting’s dismissal from Allan Donald’s first ball. And while Lehmann was able to earn his side two leg byes off the the third ball of the over, as well as a quick (well, quickish) single off the fourth ball, his stay was destined to be a short one.

Because Donald bookended his outstanding first over by angling a ball across the face of Lehmann’s bat, with Mark Boucher taking a simple catch behind the stumps. In the space of six deliveries, all the excellent foundational work from Ponting and Adam Gilchrist had been completely undone and South Africa were back on top. Australia were 3/58 after 14 overs.

“Holy double wicket-taking over!”
“An Allan Donald off-cutter for Lehmann? What a way to lose a wicket!”
“Is this really the end? Unbe-Lehmann-able!”
“Gilchrist, don’t just stand there! Do something!”
“Whatever you do, don’t miss the next consolidating episode!”
“Same Boof-Time!”
“Same Boof-channel!”

(to be continued)

(Here’s the 1999 World Cup Semi-Final Ratings master page.)

 

The 1999 World Cup Semi-Final Ratings – Plastic Bags
The 1999 World Cup Semi-Final Ratings – More Asymmetry

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