And they have brought with them a bottle of gin, some Waitrose canapes and Now That’s What I Call Disco Party Anthems on CD. By defeating their two toughest opponents (on paper anyway) by a comfortable margin in their opening two fixtures, India are now colossal favourites to win Group B. In doing so, they should avoid Australia and New Zealand in the Quarter-Finals. We always knew their batting was powerful; now it seems to be in collective form as well. Moreover, their bowling has been much better than expected and their fielding has been whatever is the opposite of donkey-like. Ligers maybe.
With four players over the age of 36, a pop-gun attack and a pregnant Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka have all the hallmarks of a team entering transition. When the Big Three all retire, and Rangana Herath goes back to his rightful job as Head Waiter in a sidestreet restaurant, it will leave Angelo Mathews alone with a team of lesser talents. Expect a few rough years ahead.
At first glance at the fixtures, it looked disappointing for the two all-Associate matches to be scheduled on consecutive days. But golly gosh these two games were entertaining, and both concluded in excitement, passion and – yes – skill. That weird sound you can hear in the distance is the ICC backtracking like mental.
For several years we have not had a fully formed opinion about Ireland. It seems that there is a trend, an aim, of them moving towards Test status over the next five-ten years, which is fine; although we completely understand reservations about a country without a domestic First-Class system trying to compete over five days. However Ireland are currently blessed with half a dozen players decent First-Class players. It is difficult to predict what players will emerge in the future, but we believe the current squad, combined with the positivism that is coming out of the World Cup for the team, should be entitled to at least venture into the Test match arena. Otherwise, it may be a missed opportunity. These players could be inspiring the next generation and helping to create a supporting infrastructure that grows alongside Ireland’s steady introduction to the most important format of the game. And maybe they’ll take Eoin Morgan off England’s hands whilst they do so.
Due to time differences and little things like actually having a job, the portion of the 51allout team from the northern hemisphere have struggled to watch much live cricket. The highlights packages are thus vital. ITV offer an hour late in the evening, but this is almost a day after the action took place. Although it is just extracts from the live footage – with a voiced-over introduction – it just ain’t no good. Sky’s highlights are shown throughout the day and early evening and are equally devoid of analysis. The biggest problem with these shows though – apart from the result already being known, unless one has the Likely Lads’ ability of avoiding the news – is condensing 100 overs of action (or much much less if England are playing) into an hour. It is like a YouTube compilation: boundary, boundary, boundary, review, wicket, boundary, wicket, boundary, boundary, oh look a dropped catch in the crowd, boundary, quick single, boundary, wicket. It doesn’t entice and it largely blurs into insignificance. The rhythm of the live action is omitted completely, a feeling enhanced by the resulting haphazard commentary.
Maxwell, Agnew, Bhogle, Manthorp, Bishop, Richards. Even if you might not like one or two of those names, all together you can’t argue that the commentary lineup for the radio coverage on both the BBC and ABC has been superb. The only letdown is Graeme Swann, who only ever takes a break from being insufferably smug when he’s wondering out loud as to why so many people like seeing England lose. Take a look in a mirror sometime Graeme. There’s your answer.
Think of that for a second. You know he’s going to do something absolutely amazing this World Cup. Its just a matter of when….
Yeah, we know we made this point last week, but it bears repeating. How many people in one of the host country’s watched Chris Gayle’s double century, or Afghanistan’s first win, or Irelands’ win over the UAE? Bugger all. Because none of these were on free to air. Once again, fuck you Channel Nine. And you too Brad McNamara.
Yep, we were among those bad mouthing Chris Gayle (and with good reason – prior to his last innings he was averaging around 20 over the last couple of years) but you certainly can’t argue with that innings. He doesn’t come off that often, but when he does he remains the most eminently watchable batsman in limited overs cricket (sub-editor’s note: presumably the South Africa game wasn’t shown on Channel Nine either). Just ahead of Gary Ballance .
Aside from their much discussed ‘worst performance ever’ against New Zealand, it was the manner of England’s facile victory over Scotland that really annoyed us this week. From a record start they still managed to wobble horribly and nearly get bowled out, finally reaching the 300 mark with all the momentum of an asthmatic ant with some heavy shopping. Against better teams – and it’s probably not unfair to say that means everyone that isn’t Scotland – England just don’t have anywhere near enough in the tank. Even Jos Buttler, the great ODI hope, seems to be going backwards in terms of his consistency under the current regime. Sri Lanka are next in line and if their top order repeats its heroics from their previous game, England’s problems – which apparently have all ‘blown over’ – will simply blow right back in again.