Much gets made of the difficulty of winning Test series overseas, with few of the top teams able to break through and defeat opponents on their home soil.
The ICC Cricket World Cup: a tournament synonymous with breathtaking displays of skill, determination and most notably, inexplicable miscalculations akin to Schapelle Corby picking up a boogie board bag.
Whether it’s mismanaged overs, a botched equation or even just South Africa, tournament rules officially state a world champion will not be crowned until a bunch of blokes stand confused around a crumpled piece of paper.
Such is the repute for showcasing numerical gaffes, even this year’s edition was rumoured to honour its 1992 zenith by scheduling 22 games in one day- but unfortunately, red tape got in the way.
Thankfully the ICC botched its sums elsewhere by inviting only ten teams, raising suspicions the tournament was organised by Mark Boucher as showers approached.
But despite the tournament’s want for snafu, heroes have continued to thrill us from the ashes of many a charred abacus, much in the way Mike Gatting shrewdly crunched the numbers in the 1987 final by accelerating to 41 in anticipation of his own brain fart.
However, one man who bucked the trend was noted calculus wizard Darren “Boof” Lehmann, who got his sums spot-on against Namibia in 2003 by precisely deducing the final over of Australia’s innings needed a bootload.
This resulted in Boof boofing a then-record 28 runs to boost the opposition chase from the already-insurmountable to a waste-of-time 6/301- and even though you probably don’t recall it, it was one of the World Cup’s most memorable moments.
Lehmann’s 28-run over was a World Cup record at the time, and in the zeitgeist, a shitload. It even equalled the-then record for ODIs twice set by Sanath Jayasuriya, a moment the Sri Lankan will never experience again mainly because he has now destroyed his 17 smartphones.
For those new to World Cups, Namibia was one of many associate nations who were embraced by the ICC before it became an unapologetic right-wing minnowist, enslaved to the game’s governing body, India.
These plucky nations would converge every four years to tinge the cricket world with colour, enthusiasm and eye-watering margins of defeat, in the process enriching the tournament with valour, romance and a boost in the cost of TV rights.
Deon Kotze’s outfit came into the group match at Potchefstroom in scorching touch after falling an agonising 181 runs short of India’s 311 at Pietermaritzburg, a confidence booster that was preceded by an encouraging 55-run loss to England and whoopings at the hands of Pakistan and Zimbabwe.
On the other hand, Australia were in wobbly form, undefeated since 1999 and defending cup holders, but encouragingly, without a World Cup title since the last one. In anyone’s language, Ricky Ponting’s men were ripe for the taking.
Bowling first, Namibia were in it up to their ears as Australia crawled to 6/273 in the 49th over, which for a defending attack of Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee was deemed by forecasts as 295 more than necessary.
Sensing an ambush from a lethal Namibian top order including Jan-Berrie Burger, Morne Karg and others, Lehmann set about rescuing Australia from the anxiety and woe of the depressing 280s.
Gorging on the scrumptious 115km profiteroles of Rudi van Vuuren – watch the video, Lehmann was literally foaming at the mouth – the rotund chrome-domed South Australian set about collecting as many runs in the shortest period of time, a la batting.
Lehmann’s patchwork quilt of finesse and fury saw the Namibian dispatched to all parts of the ground, with one final waist-high fullie callously swatted over the fence to bring up his 50 and Australia’s 300.
Such was the unrelenting carnage, even umpire Billy Bowden was urged by physiotherapists to avoid soft tissue damage by simply dancing non-stop until the over finished.
History will show Lehmann was ultimately the saviour as Namibia savagely racked-up a reply of 45 runs in 14 overs, thanks mainly to a breezy top score of 15 from extras.
While it was a match where Glenn McGrath rewrote history with 7 for 15 in a world record winning margin, Adam Gilchrist took six catches, Michael Bevan earned his 200th cap and Namibia had heaps of ‘Burgers’, it was all dwarfed in our memories by Lehmann belting 28 from the guy whose name now escapes me.
By today’s standards, such a tally of runs in one over is getting your eye in. But in the pre-fake news era, it was a 165-second sensation that was as quickly forgotten.
Lehmann would go on to take the winning catch in the 2003 final, adding to the other World Cups he played a role in ending such as 1999 and the near-finish of Steve Smith and David Warner’s 2019.