Given the appalling weather forecast for tomorrow, it looks as though I’ll be going to be able to sit down and watch an England game in this tournament. For England the point could not be any clearer. Win and they are through. Lose and they are out (I’m not sure there is any mathematical calculation that keeps us in the competition). England’s performances in this tournament have been patchy. The batting was OK, but the bowling wretched against the West Indies. The bowling went beyond wretched against South Africa, albeit on a batting dreamscape, but the batting got them out of it. Then the converse applied against Afghanistan. So, we will either put it all together tomorrow, or all fall apart! Well, that’s what is due.
This isn’t a Sri Lanka to fear, without three of their key men in the 2014 triumph, and yet we know that underestimating them is not a thing we should be doing. It will be a trial by spin in all likelihood, although we shouldn’t be taking the seamers for granted either. However, they had a bit of a shocker against the West Indies, and there’s always the chance that will happen here. Also, although we can remember some scars over the 50 over format in ICC competitions with Sri Lanka, we were the only team to defeat them in the 2014 World Cup (thanks to Alex Hales once in a lifetime knock – I think!). Hales missed the last game, and may return for this one, but one wonders if the scars inflicted on England at Delhi by Afghanistan might carry over.
Elsewhere, I’d like to thank you all for your comments on the piece called “The Exiled”. This is a blog to talk about cricketing matters, so although I like Mark’s idea about commenting on other sports, I think that would dilute the content here to a degree. However, I’m not discounting that entirely. I do believe there needs to be something to focus on in the next few weeks, as the blog does go a lot quieter during England international breaks. I do like the idea of open threads as well – they work elsewhere. Maybe that will be in the mix. As always, would love ideas as to what to write about.
For example, I’m not going to be in the UK for the first and second tests against Sri Lanka, so I’d love someone to help Chris out in writing up pieces on them, whether you’ve seen the game or not. I know I have Blackwash to finish. I know that I owe Russell Degnan a response to his magnificent comment on Schleswig Holsteinshire. There is also the small matter of getting hold of Pringle’s article in The Cricket Paper (if anyone can get a copy to me, e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org) as I don’t usually find one on a Saturday. That’s the article on trolling, in case you are wondering.
One other point. I know I’ve been a critic of Stephen Brenkley, or Bunkers as he’s known on here. Mr Aplomb was one of those guilty men who drip fed us some crumbs of information but never really told us what went wrong on that Ashes tour. I will remember the salt in the tea analogy as a particular Bunkers piece. Today he took to Twitter to say that he’s written his last piece as The Independent’s Cricket Correspondent, and that’s sad. He also said he has two weeks more to go and he’d write for the I if they wanted him to. I’m not rejoicing. Brenkley’s loss to the media coverage of cricket should be a bloody beacon of woe for the game. I’m not sure who will be taking over at the I, but I’ll bet it won’t be a full time correspondent. Let’s see. It didn’t seem the departure of a retiring man, but one of a paper cutting costs. Maybe things will become clearer.
Finally, other than comments below, I’d like to wish you all a happy Easter weekend. Enjoy the break and hope all close to you do too.