The 1999 World Cup semi-final was a tragedy: Allan Donald
Allan Donald is run out and South Africa's World Cup ends in heartbreak. © Getty

Nearly two decades from from an achingly painful but iconic moment in South African sporting history, Allan Donald feels that his run out to end the semi-final of the 1999 Cricket World Cup in a tie that sent Australia to the final and left South Africa heartbroken is a “real tragedy”.

Hansie Cronje’s team was one of the strongest at the 1999 World Cup held in England, but in the biggest game of the tournament they ended up on the wrong end of that unforgettable tie to be eliminated. (READ: ‘I missed the fricking ball’: Lance Klusener on the regret of 1999 World Cup semi-final)

The last over of that semi-final at Edgbaston began with South Africa needing needing runs and Australia one wicket. Off the first two deliveries, Lance Klusener drove Damien Fleming for fours to level the scores. That left South Africa one run to get from four balls. (IN PICTURES: The greatest ODI ever!)

Off the third, there was nearly a run-out. Off the fourth, Klusener pushed to mid-off and set off for a risky single. Donald, looking at the fielder, started to get back to his crease and did not hear Klusener’s call. That run out capped one of the most dramatic ODI finishes of all time.

“My memory that will always stand out is the ’99 World Cup, not because I was run out in the semi-final, but the team that I played with, that team had the belief. I just knew that team had the ability to win the World Cup for sure,” Donald told ESPNcricinfo. “The disappointing fact of what happened was just a real tragedy.”

Donald played one more World Cup to make it four in all, with each tournament ending in pain for South Africa. In 1992 the farcical rain rule left them stunned and in 1996 they were ousted by a Brian Lara century in the quarter-finals in a game in which dropping Donald for Paul Adams proved a blunder. The 1999 semi-final is etched in cricket history and four years later at home a miscalculation with the Duckworth/Lewis method eliminated the hosts in farcical scenes.

“To have played and represented your country for four World Cups has been brilliant, but not having won any of them has probably been the most disappointing thing of all,” said Donald. “I hope this South African side pulls it through, for the country, it needs that sort of thing, so I really hope that they can do something quite special.”

The 2019 World Cup starts May 30 with South Africa meeting hosts England at The Oval.