In some ways the World Cup is a bit like the early series of Big Brother: you get quite excited about the concept, but after the first few episodes you just want to see some boobs and get to the final. And then never watch it again. Talking about the length of the World Cup is old hat though, it’s the hot topic of the day ad nauseum. So we promise not to mention how ruddy long this tournament is ever again. After all, we’re one week into the extravaganza and the carnival continues for another three. And that’s just to get to the knock-out stages! So let’s focus on what has been and try not to think about what comes next.
Ireland’s unsurprising victory over the West Indies once again shows that the Associate members should, in principle, have some involvement in the ICC’s premier limited overs tournament. Whether there is room for them, or any other, in four years time will remain to be seen, but if an open and fair qualifying competition took place, what price West Indies not making the ten qualifiers?
The other point so far is the damn length (sorry). With seemingly every possible arrangement of a tournament having been tried, there really is no solution to the problem of keeping a tournament to a reasonable length whilst also giving the top sides (i.e. those with large television audiences) sufficient matches against each other. Not until it’s just England, Australia and India anyway.
Day one of England’s World Cup campaign: after four years of planning, bowl like a flange of fannies.
Day two of England’s World Cup campaign: Head Coach admits plans need changing.
Years since his last high-profile outing, he comes back and does beautifully. He bowled pretty well too, and looks a shoo-in to be the most economical bowler of the tournament. Just as impressive is the fact that for years he wore a beard, but the moment that every twunt within ninety miles of Shoreditch, Gary Lineker, your father, your brother, Uncle Tom Cobley and All started sprouting ludicrous facial fungus, he cut his all off, leaving a glinting shy smile, a mop of curly hair and the funkiest glasses since Bernard Edwards popped down to Specsavers.
Gimmicks often seems a good idea at the time, but usually last all of eight minutes before wearing thin. Limited overs cricket is admittedly the place for crowd-player interaction, and there’s nothing like a good catch in the crowd to get us going. But the idea in this tournament of offering uteloads of money for taking one-handed catches (but only if you are wearing the right T-shirt, cheers clothing Nazis) is just going to end in tears. There have been a couple of enjoyable snaffles, but most efforts seem to involve a fat bloke trying not to spill his beer as he crashes through a picnicing family of four. We won’t say we told you so when someone gets seriously hurt.
We confess that we haven’t watched every minute of every game so far, but so far we’ve not noticed these two dickburgers gabbling on about the greatest this and the most spectacular that. They may possibly be hiding in a vacant commentary box, just waiting to leap out and shout at us when we’re least expecting it, but for now, as the second best band from Essex once sang, enjoy the silence.
India vs. Pakistan was watched by a television audience (so we are told) of something like 1.1 billion. How many of those were in the country where the game was actually played? Bugger all. Because Channel Nine didn’t bother showing it. Instead they showed some surf lifesaving tournaments, and then later on, The Block. This is standard fare for Channel Nine. They once bid for the 2002 Football World Cup, seemingly only so they could ensure it wasn’t shown on free to air television in Australia. With a million digital channels nobody watches, you’d think they could have stuck the coverage on there, but nope.
We read this week that Brad McNamara, Channel Nine’s executive director of cricket, has Google Alerts inform him whenever his name is mentioned anywhere on the internet, so just in case that’s true, Brad NcNamara, you are a fucking incompetent tool.
That should ensure this page gets one hit at least.
Sure, people will be undeniably upset if the West Indies did what they have been threatening to do for years and simply collapsed completely, becoming forever more a wandering band of freelance players who occasionally gather for the odd T20 World Cup, but would people miss this West Indian side specifically? Stripped of their historical legacy, this West Indian outfit is absolutely horrible. And has been for years. Their inept performance against Ireland (a few notable exceptions aside) wasn’t surprising in the least. It will be even less surprising if they refuse to get out of second gear for the the rest of the tournament either, and just mope along giving every indication they really don’t want to be here.
It promises to not be a terribly edifying spectacle, and even less so when compared to how a far less talented team, like Afghanistan, have thrown themselves about.
The reasons for Saeed Ajmal and Sunil Narine’s absence from the tournament are understandable (the former banned for a suspect bowling action, the latter for a suspect haircut). However it cannot be denied that it has severely impacted upon the competitiveness of Pakistan and the West Indies respectively. Yes, Ajmaal’s participation wouldn’t stop Pakistan from batting like brainless morons, nor would Narine automatically force the West Indies to give a shit, but both players would turn each team from potential quarter-final also-rans into genuine semi-final threats. A small difference, but probably an important one where the competitiveness of the knockout stages are concerned.
This isn’t really a thing learnt this week; we were already very aware of it. But the manner of England’s defeat to Australia just rammed home how far away from the top sides they are. Not only are they, as mentioned above, rearranging their plans for bowling at the death, but they looked timid with the bat and shockingly lost in the field. If it wasn’t for the umpires (await our podcast for our full fury on that subject) giving James Taylor out, and the small matter of his 98 runs, the overwhelming memory should be his timid little throw to Jos Buttler when there was a chance of a run-out.
As revealed this week, Shane Watson earns around AU$4.5m a year, despite being the weakest link in the Australian lineup (in both Test and ODI cricket). It’s not a bad life. By comparison, Devereux is on ‘just’ AU$3.1m. As a further comparison, the average 51allout writer earns around AU$0 per annum. And that’s before you take into account our spending on gin. Which is basically a long winded way of saying: please send us some money.