World Cup Match 25, New Zealand vs South Africa

Into the second half of the tournament, and for the sake of the competition, South Africa need to win this one. The Big Three are fairly clear, and the prospects of them being turned over sufficiently to open up qualifying seem remote. And thus, while the concept of all playing each other is not inherently unreasonable, if there is a huge difference in resources that translates into playing success, we may end up with up to a quarter of the games rendered irrelevant in the latter stages.

There were some who pointed this out long in advance, and fair enough too, but the format in general can work passably so long as there’s competitiveness and hazard between the sides, and barring Pakistan’s win over England, that hasn’t happened. And that above all is what makes for turgid viewing, and would do however it was structured. Nevertheless, it’s fair to make the argument that structure can determine the jeopardy and that this one actively works against that.

England’s demolition of Afghanistan’s bowling yesterday was not unexpected, but it is still worthy of note, given their propensity to do it to anyone if it’s their day. The absence of Roy might be a blow, but Morgan’s tour de force emphasised that come the business end of things, England can destroy anyone. Whether they go on to win the World Cup or not, they are an extraordinary batting side.

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