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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 10:57 GMT

World Cup hangover for SA fans
By Oliver Brett
In Johannesburg

A fan waves the South African flag after the game with Sri Lanka
A fan ponders South Africa's defeat
Every cricket-lover in South Africa woke up on Tuesday to the painful realisation that what they had witnessed in packed bars across the country the night before was pure, grim reality, not a bad dream.

It was not until nearly 2300 local time that the SA v Sri Lanka match was declared a tie, knocking the hosts out of the tournament.

But most people had to get up the following morning and get on with their life.

At Standard Bank, a company employing 8,000 people in Johannesburg alone, the mood was typically sombre after the night that was.

Erik Larsen, media relations manager of the bank, which also sponsors the South African team, told BBC Sport: "It's fair to say there's still a fair amount of disappointment.

"I think shock and disbelief would be the best way to describe it.

The fact that they lost is most unfortunate but the team has done us proud
Erik Larsen
Media boss, SA team sponsor
"We have been following South Africa's progress with a great deal of interest and we have TV screens throughout the Standard Bank building.

"Everyone was watching the matches with bated breath and cricket has certainly been the only topic of conversation around the coffee areas this morning.

"I guess it's business as usual - people didn't arrive for work late or anything - but the only thing people can talk about is how did South Africa fall out of the World Cup."

How indeed?

South Africans who had tickets for the match at Benoni between Canada and New Zealand on Monday were really just calming their nerves in the sunshine before the series business of watching the day-nighter in Durban took place.

By the time, Herschelle Gibbs had hit a big six early in South Africa's reply to Sri Lanka's fine score the ale was flowing freely in most of the surrounding bars and deafening cheers greeted every boundary.

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But an air of pessimism loomed even when it looked like the balance of power was switching to the home side.

After the rain came, so funereal was the mood among TV presenters forced to relay the bitter news that it was a surprise they did not all don black and declare a national day of mourning.

But some of the stiff upper-lip spirit that Britons are famous for appears to have winged its way to South Africa.

"The fact that they lost is most unfortunate but the team has done us proud," said Larsen.

"We are still 100% behind the boys and staff are still sending messages of support to the team on our intranet.

"I think they played extremely well and were unlucky."

Perhaps, but even so Standard Bank's advertising slogans will have to change.

"We will still keep our campaign in place," added Larsen.

"I think the pay-off line will be that we are STILL proud sponsors of the South African team."





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