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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 11:06 GMT

Out but not down
By Phil Long
BBC Sport's man with the Barmy Army

So, for England at least, the party is well and truly over.

The news the Barmy Army had been dreading came as many of them sat around television screens in Port Elizabeth, hoping Pakistan would do us a favour and we would be heading to Bloemfontein for the Super Sixes.

Sadly it wasn't to be but at least fellow England tour veteran Steve 'Scoop' Beech and I had a more memorable way of finding out about England's demise.

Having decided a day spent with other nail-chewing England fans wasn't the way forward we headed up to the diamond town of Kimberley to check out the Super-Six credentials of minnows Kenya as they took on the West Indies.

England fans
The Barmy Army still have lots to be happy about
Unfortunately for us, the scoreboard and PA were fully focused on the game at the De Beers Oval rather than in Bulawayo so score updates were non-existent.

In that kind of situation the only thing to do is locate a fellow Englishman and find out if he knows anymore about England's World Cup fate.

And who was the only man from Blighty we could find to pass on the information?

None other than England legend Ian Botham, in town to commentate on the game.

And yet 48 hours earlier it looked so good for England and the Barmy Army were looking forward to an extended stay in South Africa cheering the boys on.

It's still to painful to recount Andy Bichel's seven wickets as well as the way we let slip a seemingly unassailable position as Michael Bevan and that man Bichel slowly silenced the Barmy Army.

What made it even worse on the grass bank in front of the Duckpond stand was that Australia's Barmy Army equivalent, the Fanatics, were able to bounce back from the verbal trouncing they'd taken in the final Test at Sydney (and for most of this game) and claim the final laugh.

England may have left the party but for England's supporters the night is yet young!

If there's one thing England supporters are the world's best at it's drowning their sorrows.

The Aussies are equally as good, if not better, at telling anyone who'll listen how good they are.

The hours after the game must have seen record quantities of beer drunk and banter exchanged.

Finally, don't think you've seen the last of the Barmy Army at this World Cup.

With an optimistic yet pessimistic tinged plan-of-action, a large number of fans have bought tickets for the Super-Six games involving the third place team in Group A as well as, you guessed it, the semi-final for the fourth best qualifier!

It remains to be seen how many of us make it to those games but although England may have left the party, for England's supporters the night is yet young!

Links to more World Cup stories


Drink to be merry
26 Feb 03 |  World Cup
Time for the singing to begin
15 Feb 03 |  World Cup
Move over Jack Kerouac
29 Nov 02 |  The Ashes
Drowning English sorrows
25 Nov 02 |  The Ashes

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