Two rounds down in the Champions Trophy, and for all the talk about the “arrangement” of the groups and the relative strengths therein, it is Group B that has been the surprising one. With one match to go, it’s now effectively in knock out territory, following Sri Lanka’s marvellous run chase to defeat India this afternoon and Pakistan obliterating the South African top order yesterday.
The last two days have been when the tournament has come to life. There has certainly been endless whining about the weather from some quarters apparently unaware that firstly Britain is an island located in the north Atlantic, and secondly that rain is not unknown elsewhere either. But the incidence of the poor weather has also been somewhat unlucky, and there’s no reason to assume that the rest of the tournament won’t be absolutely fine. For this is the point about the location – no one really has any idea what the weather will be like next week.
England are sitting pretty, the only team definitely though to the semi-finals (remarkable in itself that only one has qualified thus far), and almost certain given the net run rate equation to be playing either Pakistan or Sri Lanka in Cardiff. The game against Australia for them has little on it, except that knocking Australia out would certainly aid their chances of winning the trophy, and there’s the no small matter of the pleasure that would be derived from doing so. With a sense of timing that Giles Clarke could only dream of, Cricket Australia chose the build up to the match to send out their latest divide and rule attempt concerning players’ pay and conditions, prompting David Warner to publicly ask if they were attempting to undermine their challenge. It’s doubtful that it will have the slightest impact when play gets under way, but it’s unhelpful timing to say the least. Of course, the more cruel types might enjoy the prospect of the game being rained off, just so Australia might go home without actually completing a match.
For New Zealand and Bangladesh, they must also hope England win, for they cannot go through if they do not. It’s a trifle harsh on New Zealand, who were strong favourites to defeat their trans-Tasman rivals before the rain came, but that’s the nature of tournament cricket, and their defeat to England was in their own hands.
The real interest though is in the two matches between South Africa and India, and Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The first two nations were thought to be the ones likely to go through at the start, and now one of them will be going home. Uncertainty is the key to any competition, and while the ICC will certainly be gnashing their financial teeth at the prospect of India not making the semis, jeopardy is essential for any tournament to be in any way meaningful. It’s why the Champions Trophy is a far better watch than the World Cup, where missteps are recoverable. Not here. Calling the outcome of these matches is a fool’s game, and the one thing to be hoped is that they are at least played and don’t suffer weather related disruption.
And finally a housekeeping note: I’m off travelling (work!) from Saturday for the best part of a month. It’s Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and India this time, and as usual you can follow the trip on my other blog I use for those: http://www.thoughtsonatrip.com
Enjoy the rest of the tournament, I’ll pop in from time to time and see you all when I get back.
The way some are moaning about an irrelevent little island in the northern hemisphere being allowed to hold an international cricket tournament……… you would think they have no clue that the ancient inhabitants of this old Isle did actually invent the game.
No matter, Cricket seems to be going through its Premier league football status these day. You know? football was only invented in 1992 when Sky started broadcasting it. It’s never rained since apparently!
Love your stuff Mark but football? I’ve seen it played in snow. Mind you, that’s not so tricky
I think the rain is getting a bad press tbh. It added a real tension and excitement to the finish of the Aussie-Banga game with Steve Smith sensibly using the unusual tactic of patting back deliveries to try to get to 20 overs as quick as possible. It could have added similar frisson to Pakistan’s quick-slow-quick run-chase yesterday too in the absence of any other exciting games.
The game today though might just be the key to unlock this tourno and create a sequence of highly meaningful games. 7 teams fighting for 3 semi places over the final round of group games – excellent. Let’s hope for some ding-dong battles over the next 7 matches.
It’s an interesting point. Without the rain the Aussies would surely have chased down the target pretty comfortably. And who knows if Pakistan would have got the runs last night? A couple of quick wickets, and it might have been a SA win.
I’m not advocating for rain by the way. Every cloud has a silver lining! Just saying!
Not even I would go into a tournament supporting the weather. It dies, however, open up some intriguing possibilities…
South Africa chose to bat didn’t they? Serves them right.
AB de Villiers- Champion batsman. Captain who makes Alastair Cook look like the bastard offspring of Sun Tzu and Machiavelli
Perhaps they didn’t think it was going to rain!
It’s is very rare here in the frozen north of Europe.
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Can’t help feeling that the cricket world is so much more interesting with a thriving Pakistan and also Sri Lanka.
Wonderful performance from Bangladesh today to knock out New Zealand. Suddenly this tournament is rather interesting.
Mahmudullah is a lovely batsman to watch – I thought Bangladesh were rather wasting him down the order but it paid off big time today.
NZ seem to have made the mistake of assuming it would be “English conditions” and they could pack their bowling with medium pacers. After a bit of early swing, the ball did nothing. Leaving out their leg-spinner Ish Sodhi seems odd (he did have quite a serious injury but I thought he had recovered and they’ve left him out by choice).
I can’t shake off a slightly niggly feeling that anyone who bet on the last two Group B games and on Bangladesh getting out of Pool A would have got rather good odds.
Just for a second there, I half thought you were suggesting the merest possibility of there having been some sort of professional impropriety on the part of bookmakers 🙂 Unfortunately though, Bangladesh are not masters of their own fate and to progress are reliant on England doing them a favour in a match Australia absolutely have to win. Is this England team really ruthless enough to turn up and go after the Aussies when they’ve already qualified, or will they (as experience tells me is just as likely) go off the boil and take a pasting? The weather could still play a part, too. As for Group B, after the last few days you’d be taking a genuine shot in the dark if you wagered on the outcome now. Wasn’t it foretold in prophecy that India’s Galácticos would smite all before them? (I’m sure there’s a lot of money resting on THAT…)
Given the state of affairs I thought I better check in. Just as well I did:
“There has certainly been endless whining about the weather from some quarters apparently unaware that firstly Britain is an island located in the north Atlantic, and secondly that rain is not unknown elsewhere either.”
No, no no. You don’t get to rain and also feel justified about it. You should be embarrassed in a thoroughly English way. You should be ashamed of yourself, raining on everyone’s tournement.
But these are strange days. Given recent events I’d put good money on West Indies winning this event.
Dave Warner: spokesman and champion for social justice and intergenerational equality. His leadership qualities were evident from that first 20/20 six he swiped in Sydney.
Australia’s pretty stuffed, mainly due to English weather. But if there was anyone who I would back to stand up when they’re stuffed…who continues to believe in themselves against all prevailing wisdom….and who has all the tools needed in their toolbag…hmmm…let me think….