Big two too strong for Scotland
Scotland’s misfortune was to be drawn in the same group as the two top-rated sides in the world.
They might look on with admiration and just a little envy at Ireland’s exploits, but it is one thing embarrassing Zimbabwe and Pakistan and quite another to upset Australia and South Africa.
It made a refreshing change though to see one of the associate countries bat first. Scotland were put in, but they would have batted first if they had won the toss and that approach showed some ambition. There is no point coming to the World Cup intent solely on damage limitation.
Their best chance of victory was to post 240 and hope South Africa stumbled under the pressure of the chase - admittedly a long shot but more likely than Scotland successfully chasing the 300 plus that South Africa most probably would have recorded if they had batted first on a good pitch.
Some spectators booed Graeme Smith’s decision to field, anticipating it would rob them of sustained action. To some extent that was understandable, but it depends what you class as genuine entertainment. There is nothing duller in a one-day match than watching the side batting first pile up an unassailable score against an inferior team.
At least the game had an edge to it when Dougie Brown, John Blain and Paul Hoffmann were flogging South Africa’s bowling with a mixture of the classical and agricultural in the closing overs of the innings.
Scotland’s batting up to that point had been determined but limited, emphasising the gulf in class between the sides.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting, when asked his opinion of the associate teams, urged them to watch closely and make sure they learn from the top sides. Against Scotland, South Africa provided an admirable lesson with their fielding; it was magnificent.
Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers’s athleticism and dead-eye throwing created numerous moments of confusion against opponents unused to such sustained excellence - and de Villiers’s run out of Ryan Watson confirmed that Scotland would not reach their initial goal of scoring 200.
While South Africa move on to face Australia in a match worthy of the final itself, the Bonnie Army have one day to regroup before their cup final, against Holland.
John ‘the Dentist’ Maynard, the Nevis fast-bowler who has extracted some teeth with ball over the years, has been summarising for us on BBC radio and also bowling in the nets to the World Cup teams here. From his vantage point he backs Scotland to overcome the Dutch. It is best not to argue with him.