There are currently nineteen games until the knockout stages begin. N-n-n-n-nineteen. (Got to get song lyrics into the piece somehow, even if it’s not Public Enemy) To put that into context, the Champions Trophy in 2017 had a total of 15 games, as did the Champions Trophies in 2013, 2009/10 and 2004. The competition in 2004 even had twelve teams, compared to ten in this year’s World Cup format.
All of which is to say I’m bored, and just wish the group stages were over. Last night’s heroics by Kane Williamson put another nail in the coffin of the teams outside the top four, making it incredibly likely that there will be no surprises over the next three weeks. I’m honestly not sure I’ll even be paying much attention. Am I supposed to care whether England finishes first or fourth in the group stages?
Today’s challengers, Bangladesh, on paper have the best opportunity to disrupt this slow march towards the inevitable. They’re fifth in the group table, just three points behind Australia and England, and they have the world’s best ODI allrounder according to the ICC’s rankings in Shakib Al Hasan. The main problem is their lack of depth, I feel. Shakib is the top runscorer in this World Cup so far, but the next best Bangladeshi batsman is ranked 22nd. By contrast, Australia have three in the top ten and England have four. Likewise in the bowling, Starc and Cummins or Wood and Archer offer a far superior threat in English conditions when compared to any of Bangladesh’s bowlers.
So whilst Bangladesh certainly have the capacity to beat Australia, and few things give me more pleasure than watching Australians being ground into the dust, it just doesn’t seem likely. A win for the Tigers would at least inject some life into the competition, which is the best we can hope for at this point.
I guess what I’m saying is that Australia must lose this game for the good of world cricket.
As always, please comment on the game or anything else that happens below.