Anticipation high for second semi
St Lucia - The sun is shining brightly above the picturesque Beausejour Cricket Ground, and there is a real sense of anticipation for what many are calling the real World Cup final.
Most of the people I have spoken to – including South Africans – have the Aussies down as favourites but recognise that the Proteas have the firepower at the top of the order to really put Australia under pressure.
As long as they survive the early movement, South Africa are in an excellent position to do just that having won the toss.
Although most of the group games here were played on slowish wickets, the one for the semi-final was first used by New Zealand’s Brendan McCullum a month ago to hit the fastest World Cup half century ever. Shortly afterwards, Canada’s John Davison almost matched him.
South Africa’s coach Mickey Arthur has been repeating his mantra of “confidence, calmness and patience” and it seems to have rubbed off, with his team obviously more relaxed since beating England to qualify for the semi-final.
Australia are self-assured but coach John Buchanan will not let that become arrogance. Asked if he was worried about anything going into the clash he replied: “I’m always worried about something.”
Asked last weekend who would win the tournament, England captain Michael Vaughan said, "Whoever wins from Australia and South Africa." Both sides have already beaten Sri Lanka in the tournament, although Mahela Jayawardene's side looked outstanding against New Zealand.
Nearby Rodney Bay was abuzz on Tuesday night, with fans arriving by plane and cruise ship and a concert by reggae dancehall star Sean Paul being staged just about within hearing distance of the team hotel.
The local organising committee said on the eve of the match 18,000 tickets had been sold so far, which would be a record for this newly expanded venue, nestled in the forested hills near Gros Islet in the north of the island, but with room for 6,000 more.
The roads leading there in the morning were lined with canary yellow, with two interesting variations. There is a pastiche on the classic 1992 World Cup shirt, complete with pink stripes and the Cathy Freeman-style unitard, which must get pretty uncomfortable when you work up a sweat.
The stands in front of me are a sea of green, among the fans former South Africa captain and 2003 World Cup chief Dr Ali Bacher.
More than one South Africa jersey bears the number 438 – the total the side reached in that amazing game in Johannesburg a year ago to seal the series with Australia.
There are a few English fans and Kiwis too, whose gamble on travel plans didn’t work out. They should be in for a cracking game anyway.