Welcome to wherever, whenever, you are. This World Cup has a similar feeling to a very long train journey, whereby it’s impossible to work out how long you’ve been travelling. How many time zones have we changed? Which Friday was it when it all started? How the hell did we drink all our beer for the trip so soon? But the group stages are finally over, and we can begin to look to the next month of knockout games.
How many teams of the tournament would be selected before an England player featured? Currently Steven Finn is 25th in the leading wicket takers (England’s next highest is James Anderson at equal 42nd). Ian Bell does feature as high as 17th in the run-scoring charts, having hit 27 fours and a grand total of zero sixes, but his strike rate of 77.28 is 71st. Simply put, England have been rotten both collectively and individually.
At least Tredders has the third best economy rate. Get him back on a plane!
Credit has to go to Ireland for a ruddy, bloody brave effort throughout the tournament. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, it’s still fairly clear where their weaknesses are; a lack of top quality pace bowling (even compared to some of the other associates) being the main one. The win over the West Indies was well deserved, the victory over Zimbabwe perhaps less so, but ultimately they just weren’t good enough to make the quarter finals.
The question remains, as always, where do Ireland go from here? Have the ICC actually ever come out and spoken about where they see Ireland in five years time?
Yeah, you heard us. More than 12k Test runs at 59! Nearly 14k ODI runs at just under 42! (Like fuck are we counting runs for the ICC World XI.) Four consecutive World Cup hundreds!
Alongside all that, there’s the sheer pleasure of watching the man bat. He oozes class, even in the way he ups the tempo as and when required. None of this hefty swinging of the bat, just proper cricket strokes done to perfection. He’ll be sorely missed when he eventually calls it a day. Although if he wants to stay involved in cricket, we could do with someone to do the weekly YouTube roundup.
Actually, that title sounds a little bit creepy given everything that’s come out from the BBC over the last couple of years. What we meant was that someone with a sense of humour can add an awful lot to a game, just by playing songs vaguely connected with what’s happening in the middle. Rocket science it is not. Fun it certainly is. Expect the ICC to outlaw it from future tournaments any day now.
There must be something about Shane Warne’s voice. How else do we explain that whenever the World Cup is on our television, the man is commentating? Perhaps he is doing a commentatathon to raise money for Comic Relief; a six-week stint of commentating non-stop. And we mean non-stop. For a man who must have at least some knowledge of Richie Benaud, Warne – more than any other of the commentators – is someone who does not shut up. Although some of the liquid lexicon that oozes out of his mouth is relevant or interesting, this is outweighed by the constant drone that he emanates. Perhaps he thinks he is commentating on radio. We CAN see the action Shane!
For all their woes, West Indies have two players who are the definition of the words good egg. In Jason Holder – a young man still learning his trade whilst leading his seniors – and Darren Sammy – limited with the ball, great fun with the bat – they have a pair of cricketers it is difficult to dislike. If these guys’ attitude could be bottled and sold as a key ingredient in a rum punch, it may just help the Windies to emerge from their pitiful plight. Attitude isn’t everything (it won’t win you many matches on its own), but as cricket fans saddened by the ongoing (and terminal?) decline of the side, we would rather shake their hands than that of Chris One Good Innings In Dozens Gayle.
In conditions that ought to have favoured teams like England (don’t laugh), the four Asian full members have done far more than we predicted. Whereas India always had strength batting, their seam bowling has surprised us greatly. It’s amazing what dropping Ishant Sharma can do. It also demonstrates that express pace and/or bowling left-handed isn’t everything, despite what the Tymal Mills Fanclub think. By finishing third in their group Sri Lanka exceeded our expectation, albeit by unsurprisingly relying on three of their big four players. Pakistan, as mercurial as ever, have benefited from a weak group, the Irish not having enough good bowlers and Misbah managing to get his men playing together. Meanwhile Bangladesh, who looked dismal at the start of the tournament, have improved quickly and fully deserve their place in the quarter-finals. Their middle order – Mahmudullah in particular – has been a revelation.
Although the tournament has been much better in the last two (or three) weeks compared with the first, we are still missing a great battle between two decent sides. We look forward to seeing the top three batsmen in the world trying to outscore each other. South Africa will need to get rid of the Sri Lankan top order quite cheaply; Sri Lanka will hope to win the toss and set their opponents a sizable total. Whatever happens, it should be more fun than if it was – as we predicted beforehand – England vs. Pakistan in this fixture.
Not having had any cricket to follow for two whole days, we are desperate for the quarter-finals to start. Otherwise we might have to get round to clearing up the empty beer bottles.
It may still be a chilly mid-March here in the UK, but pre-season is in full swing, the counties are announcing bluechip (or in the case of Leicestershire, heavyweight) overseas signings and David Masters is pacing out his run-up. We can’t bloody wait.