In the wake of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, JFK quoted the venerable adage, "Victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan."
That was also true of the outcome of a crunch game at Durban in the 2003 World Cup. Sri Lanka totted up 268 on the board thanks to a ton by Marvan Atapattu who atoned for his culpability in the early run out of his opening partner Sanath Jayasuriya. The game was delicately poised during the chase when the clouds hovering over the ground began to open up.
South Africa had been unusually languid in the 44th over by part-timer Russell Arnold which fetched a solitary run and Nicky Boje was sent out to convey the demands of Messrs Duckworth & Lewis as the fielders swapped ends. The next over by Muttiah Muralitharan was considerably more expensive.
It featured a couple of singles, a wide that disappeared for four byes and a six by Mark Boucher off the penultimate delivery that lifted South Africa to 229. Boucher pumped his fist after that shot, patted the next ball to midwicket and displayed a pronounced lack of interest in sneaking a run.
Sri Lankan skipper Jayasuriya was bemused since his copy of the D/L chart suggested it was a tie. By the time the South Africans realised it, they were being hustled off the ground by the umpires as the patter of rain grew louder. Despite frantic efforts by the hosts, the game never resumed and South Africa were prematurely turfed out of their own party.
Lance Klusener was an unlikely candidate for scapegoat after playing out eight balls in the final stages for a solitary run but it was the last ball that invited greater scrutiny. Boucher was quickly absolved because he had followed the instructions to the letter. "It was a bizarre situation but it would be wrong to say there was a miscalculation," claimed coach Eric Simons but the only thing wrong was his attempt to defend the indefensible.
The needle of suspicion pointed to him though the culprit was never publicly identified, unlike another howler involving the same arcane method six years later in Guyana. West Indies coach John Dyson honourably issued a mea culpa which failed to appease The Nation of Barbados. It blared the headline, "WI Lose to Dyson".
Text: Sankhya Krishnan