/ 17 April 2007

Barmy Army ready for SA vs England

Hundreds of England’s Barmy Army fan club added more life to the highly charged atmosphere at the Kensington Oval for Tuesday’s World Cup clash with South Africa.

England need a win to sneak into the last four, while a victory for South Africa would put the Proteas into the semifinals to join Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

With India already eliminated, the Barmy Army’s strength was increased with help from the Bharat Army, which had been hoping to see Rahul Dravid’s side in contention.

”We are here to smack and crack,” said Dennis Plent, from North Yorkshire.

”The noise we make is awesome; it will shake the stands and the South Africans,” said Plent, who was there with his wife, Rachael.

”For us, Kevin Pietersen will prove better than Graeme Smith,” added Plent of the bitter rivalry between the England batsman and the South African captain.

Pietersen, born in South Africa, moved to England in frustration at the quota system in operation in the republic and performed well on his return to the country in 2005.

An estimated 6 000 English fans have come here for England’s three matches.

Michael Vaughan’s side beat Bangladesh by four wickets here last week and their last match — which could be another high-voltage affair if they beat South Africa — is against the West Indies on Saturday.

”We are making sure there’s a carnival atmosphere at the Kensington Oval. We have brought our trumpet player, Bill Cooper, and our Jimmy Saville lookalike Vic Flowers,” said the director of the Barmy Army, Paul Burnham.

For some, it is a time to show their loyalty to their adopted Britain.

”When India play England, we naturally support India, but here the scenario is different. We are here as part of Bharat Army and are supporting England and hope they play the final,” said Chiman Patel.

South Africa fans, small in number, were ready to encounter the Barmy Army noise.

”We can shout as loud as they can, but I think there is no animosity between us and England. Our rivals are Australia who we want to beat either in the semifinal or final,” said Joe Openshaw, who came from Rustenburg. ”We are not scared of England or their fans. We can overcome them.” — Sapa-AFP