It’s quite strange when you think about it. By the end of today eight teams would have commenced their World Cup campaign. Tomorrow the ninth does. India do not start until Wednesday. Why is that?
I have to say that there is a sneaking suspicion that Occam’s razor applies here. Because I am beginning to get a little fed up that any one-sided fixture in this competition is greeted with the usual tweets by those who wish to see more countries at this competition. Point the ire at sport, across the world’s, relationship with television. For the sake of TV entertainment, and therefore the vast revenues, games are rescheduled, tournaments are “seeded”, certain teams are kept apart, certain teams have to play each other, and it is you, the public’s, fault for wanting more sport, more live sport, when it is more commercially convenient for you to watch it. India have the most clout, there’s no surprise in that, no controversy, and for that reason a repeat of 2007 must never happen again. It simply can’t. So I suppose TV is behind India not starting until Wednesday. So those bemoaning the format, bemoaning the one-sided game that is always possible, those bemoaning the contraction of the game, point the ire at the authorities who need India TV money to make money. They want more India matches. It’s commercial reality. Sport be damned.
So to today, and the second of the qualifiers, because it is easy to forget that West Indies had to, makes their first appearance with a tough opener against Australia. While the Aussies have been wearing hair shirts for the last year, it has been easy to take their poor form, until recently, as an indicator that they may not be the force they were. The abrasive Warner, and the rough Steve Smith join the team, and they look stronger. The bowling looks dangerous, the warm-up win has given them a bit of swagger, and there’s a not so quiet confidence coming from the Australians. I have called them the cockroaches quite a few time – you might think you’ve killed them off, that the pest has been removed, but they always bloody come back (there’s a life experience from my early years in a tower block). It’s what makes them such great pantomime villains in our rivalry. Pundits sit back, laugh at their misfortune, and even, as in 2013, wondered why he had to just get out of second gear to win. Then the little rascals kick our arses. Then come back and kick it some more. They’ll be there in the shake-up. Trust me.
This game is taking place in Bristol. The weather is set fair in England (and Wales) for today, so we could have some runs, especially if Australia bat first. I do wonder if this is as one-sided as I fear it might be, whether the same tweeters moaning about yesterday’s game will be so vociferous.
(Look, I like this World Cup format. Sorry to disappoint anyone. I would, as in any sporting endeavour, like to see all countries have to qualify for the tournament (maybe not the holders and hosts) but I’m living in a dreamworld if I believe anyone would allow the Big 3 to be up for elimination)
The first game today, from Cardiff, is New Zealand v Sri Lanka. I’m hoping for a good day for my work colleague, Simon, who is travelling down there this morning. New Zealand got a bit of a pasting in a warm up game, at the hands of the West Indies, and that might have knocked confidence, but this is a dangerous team, capable of beating anyone and should not be underestimated. Sri Lanka have been largely discounted as contenders, and the team lacks star quality, but until we see them play, there’s always the element of mystery.
I didn’t get to see yesterday’s nonsense from Trent Bridge. I would point out that on the Cricket Debate on Thursday night, when they weren’t talking about greatest ever catches (Bob Willis was having none of that nonsense), Charles Colvile actually mentioned that 500 was possible. Well that lasted well (honestly, we worry that these guys know more than you and I?) as Pakistan subsided to 105, and the West Indies knocked them off in five minutes. I think the West Indies are a sneaky decent team and they can often be kryptonite to England, while Pakistan are a walking cliche (and twitter loves a cliche).
So the World Cup is now up and running, and it’s a game a day for the next month. We’ll endeavour to keep up, and hope you stick with us for the entire competition. The event has certainly stirred up emotions behind the scenes, the media is in overdrive, everyone has an opinion, and people are talking about the sport, even if it is still a limited number. But it feels like there’s an event going on, and that has to be good.
Any comments on today, feel free to let them go. Also we are on Twitter – @OutsideCricket – where we promise not to be as up our own rear ends as others! Well, we don’t think we are.
Have a good day. With the Champions League Final and the Derby, there’s a lot on. (Not quite 14th July – World Cup Final, Wimbledon Mens Final and British Grand Prix). If you get the chance, enjoy them all as much as you can. If you want.