On this day in 1992: Farcical rain rule knocks South Africa out of World Cup

Exactly on this day in 1992, South Africa made an exit from the 1992 World Cup in bizarre circumstances. The huge scorecard at the Sydney Cricket Ground placed between the Coke and Foster’s banners, reading ‘SOUTH AFRICA NEED 22 RUNS OFF 1 BALL’ is still fresh in most of the cricket fans’ minds as England progressed to the final while the Proteas were left heartbroken.

England post 252

The match had started with a ten-minute rain delay, but the overs were not reduced in the England innings. It was decided that the interval would be delayed to 6.10 PM (from 6 PM), and would be shortened by ten minutes. South Africa skipper Kepler Wessels decided to bowl first after winning the toss and Allan Donald gave his side a good start by dismissing Graham Gooch early.

Ian Botham could not last long either and departed after scoring 21. Alec Stewart and Graeme Hick then steadied the ship with a 71-run stand. It was followed by a 73-run stand between Hick and Neil Fairbrother before both of them fell in quick succession. As time was running out, Dermot Reeve came to England’s rescue by scoring an unbeaten 25 off 14 balls as England reached 252 for 6 at 10 PM. In the 45th over of England’s innings, Reeve had helped his side score 18 runs which eventually made the difference in the game.

The rain rule of that time stated that if the team batting first could bat for only X overs by the time scheduled for them, the match would be reduced to an X-over contest. Consequently, the game was reduced to a 45-over per team contest.

Rain rescues England

South Africa, who were playing their first-ever World Cup, kept losing wickets at crucial junctures but kept themselves in the hunt to chase down the total. They were reeling at 131 for 4 in the 27th over before a 38-ball 43 cameo from Jonty Rhodes brought down the equation to 47 runs off 31 balls with 4 wickets in hand. Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson managed to score 25 from the next 18 balls before the rain came in, which left them to score 22 from 13.

At that time, it was advantage South Africa although England were in contention too. But what followed thereafter was nothing less than bizarre. The play resumed twelve minutes later and the shocking scenes were unveiled soon as the Proteas were given an impossible target of 22 runs to chase off 1 delivery. South Africa finished their innings on 232 for 6 as England won the game by 19 runs and progressed to the final where they lost to Pakistan.