World Cup Match 27 – England v Sri Lanka (But More Discussing Other Things)

Why do you/I watch sport? I’ve been asking myself this question for quite a while now. Why do I spend so much of my non-working, waking life, watching sport? Obviously the major sports like football and cricket will dominate my attention; I’ll watch the big events in sports I have a vague interest in, like rugby, maybe tennis. There’s golf, especially the Majors, and a staple of my Sunday nights during the summer, especially. Then there’s the NFL, NBA and MLB, all interest me to some degree, quite often depending on how my team is doing. The Tour de France, the Olympics, all that jazz. Sport has been my thing all my life.

If it wasn’t there, what would I miss? Would I miss the cut and thrust of competition, of two equally matched teams fighting it out for the major prizes? The best individual talent pitting their wits against each other. Thrilling finishes. Exciting matches. Highest level quality. How would I feel if I missed the modern day equivalent of the Edgbaston 2005 test? The 2004 FA Cup Semi-Final (the most emotional sporting event I’ve been to)?

There was a question posed on Twitter by Nasser Hussain:

In many ways this got me thinking. Did you prefer a close contest between two earnest teams, with some high quality mixed in, or did you prefer the battering of a lower ranked team, playing in alien conditions, with some extraordinary individual performances? Simple, eh? You would think so, but when push comes to shove, is it really?

Then ask yourself whether you would watch Real Betis v Valencia battle out a 3-2 win, or whether you want to watch Barcelona batter Getafe, or some such team, 6-0 and watch Messi, Suarez and in the past Iniesta and Xavi weave beautiful patterns, showing genius at every turn?

The answer is more people watch the bigger team, and want to be “entertained”. It’s not about competition, it’s about domination. Golf was never more popular than when Tiger was in his pomp, yet arguably it was more entertaining without him. Men’s tennis rode a peak of the top three, with a Wawrinka or Murray butting in here and there, while women’s tennis may have a Serena, but is, sadly, largely anonymous to many when she’s not there. Men’s tennis still depends on that top three. Who can replace them? Who is going to replace them?

Sport needs competition to survive. It needs the unexpected to thrive. It needs the champion to be knocked off, say like Spain were in the Brazilian World Cup Finals (and then Brazil in turn), and like Germany were in 2018. It needs to thrill the punter, who will pay more for the thrill. But sports teams, especially, are like businesses. And businesses crave certainty. What was the reaction to Leicester winning the Premier League? The big clubs are going to do their damndest to make sure that doesn’t happen again. They want to get more of the revenue, more than they already do. They want to rig the Champions League to make it so big clubs have to be relegated out of it, and actual champions of mid-level leagues, have to fight for four spots.

I’m beginning to contemplate my own stupidity and naivety. I saw the EFL fixtures came out today. Salford City are on live the first weekend, picking up another nice little, and it will be little, cash bonus for the pleasure. Why? An astroturf club… Of course I know why. It’s not about your team it is about their designated teams.  Before they’ve kicked a ball in the league, their curiosity factor wins them one of the rare League 2 live game honour. Spare me the “it’s their first game in the football league”. Never showed Forest Green’s opening game. Any others get one? Media judges who you want to watch, judges that that is the best sporting contest to watch, and it’s more about who than the what. And I’m as guilty as anyone else.

So what does this have to do with cricket? Everything. We have a structure for the World Cup of 10 teams in a round-robin. It’s the format the pros wanted. The ex-pros in the commentary boxes, dependent on TV revenue for their burgeoning recompense, and other opportunities – big time in favour of it. But it simply has not worked. The problem is, nothing will work. From its moving away from the 8 teams, 2 groups of 4, semi and final, we’ve had nothing but gripes. The Super 6 and Super 8s were too complicated. The 2007 tournament, with 4 groups of 4, and a Super 8, went on longer than most wars. The 2011 and 2015 tournaments meant they played 42 games to eliminate 5 + 1 of the weakest “proper” test teams (and in 2015 it was England instead of Bangladesh). Now we have the dead zone that is the next two weeks.

But the authorities aren’t going to be fussed. England, India and Australia, the Big 3, are still there, and their games will be watched avidly. Both England and Australia have also to play New Zealand. England have India and Australia. Plenty to get excited about. Plenty of talent to watch, with no real jeopardy. TV companies get their 9 games for each of them, and stuff the rest. There’s none of the thrill of 2007, when a defeat to a “lesser nation”, like India and Pakistan managed to do, could mean elimination. We know that from that point, the world’s largest market switched off. It’s a business man (as Jay Z once said). That simply can’t happen. Wishing it away is to believe sport is more about ideals and the triumph and not about money. It’s all about money.

England play Sri Lanka at Leeds tomorrow. England go in as massive favourites. Sri Lanka look pretty down and out. With three strong fixtures to come, England know a win pretty much seals their spot. A loss means that they probably have to win one of their remaining games against India, Australia and New Zealand to qualify. But let’s be hones. We’re expecting more like a Messi and Barcelona show, rather than a Betis v whoever it was again, aren’t we? We’re only worrying because it’s England and we can stuff it up, aren’t we? We’re worrying because Sri Lanka could always do what Pakistan did, and put a score on the board we fail to chase, aren’t we? We’re only nervous because this is England.

I guess that’s why we still watch. And when we watch, the adverts, and the subscriptions, and the online “engagement” persists. I guess we are fools. We love what we love, and we really don’t want to give it up, even when our minds are trying to overcome our hearts, and tell us that this is a rigged game, that we’re being milked by charlatans, they’ll never stop, and wowzer, what a shot that was! The greatest ever…

This World Cup has been rank. But, it might get better. It really might…….please, make it so.

How would you  have voted in Nasser’s poll?

Comments below.

[Post-Script – Yes, Bangladesh were spirited. Yes they are probably the 5th best team in the tournament, but even I don’t really believe they could overhaul England, even if we lost from here out. Then there’s net run rate….]

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53 thoughts on “World Cup Match 27 – England v Sri Lanka (But More Discussing Other Things)

  1. Mark Jun 20, 2019 / 10:03 pm

    Add another 6 teams to make 16, then put all the names in a hat and draw them out FA Cup style. Play first round knock out of 8 matches, then put remaining teams in hat and rinse repeat until you have a final. In all 15 matches.

    Then do it all again for another 15 matches, and again for another 15 matches.

    Three world cups in 45 matches. Three games less than this tournament, but much more interesting and exciting with the prospect of India/Aus/England going out in the first round.

    Who is the overall winner? Who Cares? Does anyone really care who wins this?

    Never going to happen because as you say….. it’s business.So give us something for our money.

    This is dire, one of the worst international sporting events I have seen. Too long, too boring, too one sided. It’s like showjumping on the radio.

    Maybe cricket has jumped the shark with the new bats. A bit like when tennis moved to graphite rackets they had to slow down the balls. Or when the new golf clubs game along they had to lengthen the golf courses. Perhaps make the grounds bigger?

    If there are two great semi finals, and final the event may redeem itself. I’d rather a cracking five match series of test matches. That’s only 25 days.

    Like

  2. Glenn Jun 20, 2019 / 10:49 pm

    I’m surprised that 50 over cricket is still going. People have been moaning about them for years – calling them ODoius etc – and moaned about every cricket world cup since 1996. T20 is taking over, and will there even be an English domestic 50 over next year? I do still enjoy it though.

    Like

    • quebecer Jun 21, 2019 / 12:41 am

      I think the main reason is the World Cup, as despite how the structure seems to not want to, it’s still the best format for getting all the countries in one place for a cricket tournament.

      Although you may have a point that it might not be considered so in the (near) future.

      Like

  3. quebecer Jun 21, 2019 / 12:08 am

    I think the question of preference is all fair in theory, but in this instance, it does rather ignore the quality of the English batting. And I mean the quality we witnessed. Bairstow, I thought, was superb, as was Root. The stupendous hitting of Morgan came mainly off one of the most highly regarded leggies around, after all, and I really don’t think that can be sniffed at.

    My point is, it all depends on how the strong team gets its win. In this instance, England batted as well as any team can, and it made me both purr and gasp in equal measures. Fair enough, I think, in this instance.

    Like

  4. Metatone Jun 21, 2019 / 7:07 am

    First thing I have to note is that Nasser’s poll is crap because the Edgbaston game was much less close than it may have looked to amateur watchers like Nasser.

    Dampish pitch with not much in it for spinners immediately put the advantage towards Aus. with their 2 good opening quicks. So I didn’t see a lot of hope for Bangla to start with.

    Don’t forget that Aus scored only 16 less runs than England did. So did the Aus batsmen “batter” Bangla?

    Bangla kept it interesting for a few overs at the beginning but in fact this was a chase that they never looked like being able to do, esp. after the sprinkling of rain at the beginning of their innings brought a bit more nip to the seamers.

    Irony, while I was able to watch a lot of earlier games in full, both of these I was only able to catch bits of. In total tho, I have to say, they were both games I was basically happy to miss because they were both utterly dead from about 20 overs on in the first innings.

    The advantage football has is it is a low scoring game in general. The equivalent of the England-AFG game would be a 5 goal win by England over Malta or something. And typically those are boring too, but often the lesser team holds out for up to 30-35 mins. So you get half a game of tension. And the equivalent of Aus-Bangla looks a lot more like a 3-1 win, where you actually are at 1-1 up to the 60th min, only 2-1 up to the 75th minute – and fate can take a hand.

    Side note: the rarity of goals and the rarity of good goals means a Barca 5-1 win can actually be argued to provide some aesthetic pleasure that transcends the scoreline. i.e. the way the goals are scored can be special. Sixes are far too common to say the same of Morgan’s innings, as a great as it was in some ways. (There were no outrageous shots, which meant Nasser liked it… but… meh.)

    So, yeah, happier to watch Eng batter AFG than Aus batter Bangla b/c I like England more, but neither game was live after 20 overs and that’s not a lot of fun in either case.

    I have lots more to say but I’ll put it in another comment to try to avoid the system swallowing this.

    Like

  5. Metatone Jun 21, 2019 / 7:36 am

    Ok, so I’ve ranted against boring games that are dead after 20 overs. But that’s the way ODIs are… so I’m against expansion, right? NOT SO FAST…

    One of the virtues of the Football WC expansion is that it genuinely gives new teams something.

    First, the nature of the game means they can park the bus and keep hope alive sometimes. Is it great to watch? No, but there can be some drama.

    Second, I’m a lot happier watching lower ranked teams get their chance in the early rounds as at least it is for something, it’s for the expansion of the game. New teams getting a chance and maybe learning something that will help them build in years to come.

    Here, not so much… and I’m going to argue that in fact the pitches have not been good for the competition. Lots of people enthused (inc. Nasser): “There’s something in there for the quicks, it’s good to see quicks back in ODIs” – but actually it’s a terrible set of decisions, b/c the run up (across the world) has largely taken place on pitches that have been batsman friendly, with a bit of spin. If you want to trace why SL, Bangla, AFG, Pak have looked less at the races it’s because this competition has been played on pitches that favour teams with 2 (at least) top fast bowlers.

    (Of course, as WI/SA have proven, said bowlers still have to bowl well and you have to bat well.)

    Throw in that the way the schedule has been set up, some of the more even games on paper (taking into account rankings running up to the tournament, as well as performances so far) are going to be dead rubbers… and it’s all just a bit annoying. And yes, the pattern of rained off games probably can’t be blamed for this as it’s affected Ind & NZ too, but it has also killed off some of the momentum for other teams.

    And yes, all of this all the more because there are so many games with nothing to play for now. Days and days of games. FIFA WC last round of group games throws up a bunch of those, but they are done and dusted as quickly as possible (and thanks to the Disgrace of Gijon, games in the same group are played at the same time, so that’s cleans them up even more quickly.)

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    • dArthez Jun 21, 2019 / 8:52 am

      The only way (at least up to now) that a last round in a FIFA World Cup is a dead rubber, is that two teams playing in the last round have won both their games. But even then considerations of finishing the group first / second play a part to get in the “easier” / “harder” draw in the run up to the final. In most cases, you are either dependent on what teams in the paired group does, or have 90 minutes between knowing said result, and actually going on the pitch to attain the desired result. Nothing like days, or even a week in the case of this World Cup.

      They are also played at the same time, to reduce the impact of collusion. Not so with the cricket, so theoretically, you could have a situation where a team can deliberately bowl a wide to either help themselves or another team to qualify for the next round. Farcical? Yes. But seeing that we have had a few incidents in which a bowler bowled a wide to deny an opposing batsman a century (Sehwag against Sri Lanka springs to mind), certainly not something that is beyond imaginable in cricket these days (if only there was a hint of competitiveness in a tournament, that is). Sadly.

      Cricket is rather unique that conditions vary through the world. Whether a football game is played in Berlin, Madrid, or Rio de Janeiro, does not make much difference. Messi would still be a great player. Sure, altitude and extreme weather can have an impact (Bolivia have used that to great advantage in the past), but altitude is not something you can doctor to the same extent as you can doctor a pitch. In cricket, conditions can render supposedly great players (bowlers and batsmen alike) completely ineffective. Never mind that sometimes conditions are so much skewed towards bowling or batting first, that games can literally become “win toss = win game”.

      Afghanistan had played all of 50 ODIs against Full Members, half of which were against Zimbabwe (across their history). Even between the World Cups, they got all of 8 or 9 fixtures against Full Members, none of them in conditions that favoured pace bowling over spin. They were simply set up to fail. Bangladesh have not played a series in England for a decade (if you discount the Champions Trophy, where no one had wanted them either, but they qualified, and deserved to be there). That is not exactly setting them up for success either.

      Case in point, the qualifier was played in Zimbabwe, where conditions generally favour spin over pace bowling. Would have made more sense to then have the World Cup in a place that favours spin bowling over pace bowling, or alternatively, hold the qualifiers in England or New Zealand.

      Expansion can easily be achieved. One could have 20 teams competing in 4 groups of 5. That naturally means that even if a top ranked team messes up, they still have 3 opportunities to recover (and since NRR takes precedence over head to head, a team like India could easily recover from a loss against say West Indies, by defeating South Africa, Nepal and Kenya (or whoever they would be drawn with). You could even add in 2 reserve days at the end of a group stage. If the venues are not needed for the matches, you could also turn those into PR opportunities (or outreach opportunities, from the sound of it, those could be rather useful in England). Then 7 knockouts, and you have your winner.

      But they won’t consider that. The outcome is inconsequential, as long as people think cricket is played on an even field between the teams. It is not. And the sooner people realize that, and divert their interests to other games, the better. But by the time a critical mass of sheer indifference is attained, it will be too late.

      Like

  6. Metatone Jun 21, 2019 / 8:12 am

    So, one final tediously long comment!

    Given the commercial constraints, could we still build a better tournament?
    I think so. Note: I’m going to go the full cynic here, but in my view it’s no worse than the full cynicism of the tournament structure we have.

    (1) A first round of Big Team vs Little Teams, so we’re really expanding the game. Have rain reserve days, so there’s no chance of the weather putting India out. And go the full cynic, bottom ranked teams in the top 8 play each other and the rest get easier options:

    IND vs NL
    PAK vs NPL
    AUS vs IRE
    ENG vs SCO
    SA vs AFG
    NZ vs ZIM
    SL vs UAE
    BAN vs WI

    Winners go into 2 groups:

    IND
    PAK
    SA
    NZ

    AUS
    ENG
    SL
    BAN/WI

    So we want money, so why not have this be the endless money stage?
    Every team plays the others in the group 2x. That way you get 2 AUS vs ENG, 2 IND vs PAK
    Great for the broadcasters. Tweak the rain reserve rules as you wish to make sure the weather doesn’t kill the money making.

    Top 2 in each go to SF.

    Yes, there’s a danger that India don’t make it to the SF, but you get 2 guaranteed IND vs PAK games and if you’re lucky you could get 1 more in the final.

    Total number of games – 8 + 24 + 3 = 35.

    So if you’re really worried that India need an extra escape route, you could invent an extra loop, you have 10 matches to play with before things are as endless as the current setup.

    So this safeguards the $$$$ for TV, it gives expansion teams a better level of exposure, and is shorter.

    Is it perfect? No. But I think it’s enough of an improvement on the current setup to say the current is not good.

    Let’s not forget that had the rain come the other day we would have had no IND vs PAK in this tournament at all…

    Liked by 1 person

    • dArthez Jun 21, 2019 / 9:04 am

      That is a decent idea (and you could even make the qualifying round a best of three, to make certain that England, India, and Australia do qualify even if they have an outbreak of temporary incompetence / insanity).

      We have 19 more inconsequential fixtures to go. 19 That is 40% of the fixtures this tournament, and we already had quite a few completely inconsequential games. Dave Richardson must be excited.

      Given the state of cricket in all but the Big 3 and New Zealand, it is hard to come up with a format that is more dysfunctional than the current set up. Unless they made it a double round robin (chances are that fixtures 46 – 90 would be completely inconsequential).

      The 2015 format for instance would have worked much better. Sure the same four teams would have likely clinched first and second spot in their groups. But it would also have meant (slightly dependent on how these 10 teams, and say Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Scotland and Ireland would be grouped), that most of the teams that are currently completely out of the running, at least would be in the running for a quarter final spot – i.e. they still have something to play for. Now it is just about making up the numbers and racking up unnecessary hotel bills and the like.

      Like

  7. Metatone Jun 21, 2019 / 11:41 am

    England bowling putting the squeeze on.
    Hard to see how SL come back from here: 138-5 off 31…

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    • dArthez Jun 21, 2019 / 12:14 pm

      It may be the case that the only way back in this for Sri Lanka, is if the English top 3 ask members of the audience to have a bat …

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      • thebogfather Jun 21, 2019 / 12:59 pm

        That would mean ECB ‘engaging’ with either the ‘obsessives’ or the ‘lagered-up’…

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        • dArthez Jun 21, 2019 / 1:09 pm

          I did not exclude mums and young kids from that, so the ECB ought to be happy with such a proposition …

          Liked by 1 person

          • thebogfather Jun 21, 2019 / 2:36 pm

            They might struggle picking 3 mums or kids from the Western Terrace… but hey, their must be one there better than Vince

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  8. Metatone Jun 21, 2019 / 2:18 pm

    SL opening bowlers have done a great job in the first 10 overs.
    Next 10 overs critical.

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    • dArthez Jun 21, 2019 / 2:40 pm

      The problem for Sri Lanka is that the target is just 233. So England were hardly behind the asking rate.

      Just bat out the overs and they will win. Sri Lanka have to bowl England out, and other than a sudden outbreak of incompetence, / cricket ball phobia, I can’t see that happening.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dArthez Jun 21, 2019 / 4:49 pm

        Surprisingly 233 might be enough. Needless to say, I don’t think this will be considered great batting by England.

        If only Sri Lanka had not suffered those two washouts, they might have been in the running for real.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. dlpthomas Jun 21, 2019 / 3:59 pm

    Poor review by Buttler and I’m getting a bit nervous.

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  10. dlpthomas Jun 21, 2019 / 4:22 pm

    And now a silly shot from Moen.

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  11. Deep Purple Fred Jun 21, 2019 / 4:32 pm

    England, welcome back old friend! Haven’t seen you for a while!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. dlpthomas Jun 21, 2019 / 4:34 pm

    Well this is complete crap. I guess we all new England would have a collapse at some stage in the tournament.

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    • Metatone Jun 21, 2019 / 4:39 pm

      Hello Darkness My Old Friend…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. dlpthomas Jun 21, 2019 / 4:54 pm

    Does anyone know the Heimlich?

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  14. dArthez Jun 21, 2019 / 5:12 pm

    Sadly, not much riding on this. Still a long shot for any of the other teams to get 9 points.

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  15. dlpthomas Jun 21, 2019 / 5:19 pm

    If I was a better person I’d say that result was great for the tournament. However, I am a petty little man so instead I will say that game was completely fucked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Metatone Jun 21, 2019 / 5:36 pm

      I think it reminded of us of some essential truths:

      (1) Malinga still can turn a match.

      (2) Vince is really not up to the job at this level.

      (3) Mo is still out of form (although arguably signs of improvement are there recently)

      (4) England bat long, but down the order they aren’t so good against spin.

      Of these, I would say:

      (1) Hats off to the man and yeah, that’s partly how ODIs go sometimes, a great player takes the game by the neck.

      (2) Can we please just accept this and move on to someone else?

      (3) Guess we just have to hang in there, because he bowled decently.

      (4) Some crash practice needed, where is Duncan Fletcher when you need him?

      Final thought, more grist for my prejudice that just tracking the opposition scoring rate (and/or digging in early) when chasing looks mostly fatal on the pitches we are getting which generally all seem a little harder to bat on in the 2nd innings…

      Like

  16. Deep Purple Fred Jun 21, 2019 / 6:39 pm

    SL can still deplace Eng in the top 4, right? I don’t know enough about the structure and scoring but I know Eng still has to face Aus and Ind, both are potential losses. SL are only two points behind Eng.
    Or am I get ahead of myself, and there is ample time for Eng to rack up enough points to keep SL at bay?

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    • Metatone Jun 21, 2019 / 7:06 pm

      3 matches left for each, so if SL win 2 more than England they pass them.

      Eng face Aus/Ind/NZ – so 3 potential losses.

      SL face SA/WI/Ind – so 2 wins is more likely than 3.

      Like

      • Metatone Jun 21, 2019 / 7:11 pm

        Of course, the banter outcome is SL needing to beat India and India resting key players for the knockouts.

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    • dArthez Jun 21, 2019 / 7:16 pm

      Since England lost two games against minor sides, they seem to be in the weakest position for the time being. While India has a point less, they have played fewer games, and have already beaten Australia, Pakistan and South Africa. Sure, they might drop points against England, but you would also expect them to beat the likes of Afghanistan.

      The geniuses who thought out the tie-breaks really deserve a medal for gross stupidity. The tiebreaks are:
      1) Number of wins
      2) Net Run Rate
      3) Head to Head
      4) seedings

      So sides that suffer washouts are doubly screwed. First they are denied a chance to win the full 2 points, then the point they get is not even worth a full point, due to tie-break mechanics.

      One win will never suffice for Sri Lanka.

      Two wins, means that they need England to lose 2, and suffer 1 washout (or worse). Three wins means that they need England to lose 1 and suffer 1 washout (or worse).

      That means they realistically have to beat South Africa, and West Indies, and hope that England do not win a single game, and at best enjoy 1 washout. 2 washouts might suffice, but their NRR is rather poor, so probably if Sri Lanka win two games, England just need two washouts (or better) to qualify.

      If Sri Lanka suddenly win 3 games, then England need to win two of those. That might be a challenge, but Sri Lanka have been a rather poor ODI side in the last few years, so to expect them to win at least two of those games is already asking for a lot (they lose three times as many ODIs as they win, and that includes home games, where conditions favour them more than they usually do in England).

      Of course, if the rain had fallen on different days, Sri Lanka could have been in the position that they now had 2 points more than England now, instead of 2 less. (just assuming that Sri Lanka would have won the abandoned games, and England would not have gotten a chance to roll over South Africa and say Bangladesh or Afghanistan). Unlikely, but it is clear that a lack of reserve days has benefited England more than any other team. At least it appears like that at the moment. In 2 weeks time, it could well be the case that all the washouts are completely inconsequential.

      That is if we assume that India / Australia / New Zealand don’t suddenly start losing matches en masse.

      Like

      • Marek Jun 21, 2019 / 8:16 pm

        It would also make things fairly entertaining, however, if Bangladesh beat India!…particularly since one of their other two matches is against Afghanistan.

        Realistically though, as you say, one win really ought to put England through whatever else happens.

        Like

    • Deep Purple Fred Jun 21, 2019 / 8:05 pm

      Hmm, OK, seems like Eng is unlikely to be threatened by SL then, unless a highly unlikely scenario eventuates.
      Thanks for the comments.

      I expect the cat is amongst the pigeons tonight in the English dressing room.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Mark Jun 21, 2019 / 7:22 pm

    Great tweet by a guy called MazherArshad

    “England have not beaten Australia, India or NZ in World Cups for 27 years! They have failed to win 10 games in a row against Aus, Ind, NZ combined going back to WC 1992. And their next three games in this WC are against these three teams!”

    I think they will have enough for the Kiwis, but you knew it would take England to create a pulse in this bore snore event.

    Perhaps not a good idea for the captain to be talking about “stigmas” or not wanting to be “ dragged down” by a certain player not picked. Just saying.

    Like

  18. Northern Light Jun 21, 2019 / 7:23 pm

    It’s not about the runs Vince scores, it’s the Trust he brings to the team environment.
    We all need to remember that the important thing is trust. And ethos. But getting into a drunken punch up is fine. Alcohol = good, other drugs = bad.
    Thought I should elucidate the rules in case we’d forgotten.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Jun 21, 2019 / 7:47 pm

      From cricinfo a few days ago…….

      At the time of Hales’ deselection – the ECB does not want to use the word “suspension” for legal reasons ….

      Worth remembering some of Morgan’s quotes this week about replacing players injured with Hales.

      “He revealed that the side’s senior players – Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes – had been party to the decision with a view to ensuring the rest of the squad was not “dragged
      down”

      Must be nice to be judged on the dragging down front by Stokes. He without sin cast the first stone etc etc.

      “We have not considered replacing any players yet,” Morgan “But If Ed Smith, the national selector, came to myself and Trevor Bayliss, the coach, and said he felt that Alex was the best option, we would have to assess how that would sit in the changing room and the stigma it would bring with Alex coming back.”

      Stigma?

      “Ultimately Ed gets the final call on who is involved in the 15, so then we would have to address how that would look in our changing room.”

      Translation …we the dressing room pick the players, and we have veto over anyone the selectors choose who we don’t like.

      It all sounds earlily familiar. England choose trust over talent.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marek Jun 21, 2019 / 8:41 pm

        It casts Morgan’s “that’s from me” comment about Pietersen–which at the time I thought was rather out of character–in an interesting light.

        I wonder if he has a VERY big thing not only about discipline but about team unity…so that his reason for being so adamant Pietersen wouldn’t be picked was his impression of how it would affect the team. Maybe he’s nearer to Flower and, particularly, Strauss in attitude than we sometimes like to imagine…as you say, the language is very familiar.

        With Hales, he almost sounds more worried about how the team reacts than about what Hales has done–hence bringing Hales having an extra-relationship fling into it, which really is completely his own business…unless you’re considering the reactions of the team and by proxy their partners.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus Jun 21, 2019 / 8:42 pm

          Some aren’t ready to forgive. And easy to antagonise.

          Like

          • Mark Jun 21, 2019 / 9:07 pm

            It’s not an old drum. It’s in the DNA of England. One of the things our opponents never understood. They always thought it was just about KP. It was a culture. Individual talent will always be second to trust.

            England still have lots of talent, and may still win this World Cup. But when they lost some players to injury they cut off their nose to spite their face.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Burly Jun 21, 2019 / 11:06 pm

      “But getting into a drunken punch up is fine.”

      Well, no. Hales didn’t exactly cover himself in glory that night either, and like Stokes was charged with bringing the game into disrepute. The difference with Stokes is Stokes has kept his nose clean since. Hales’ nose, on the other hand…

      It’s not double standards – when things like this happen it essentially is a black mark against players. Depending on their prior record they’ll be warned as to what happens next.

      Hales appears to have recognised that he was running out of chances in this interview: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/apr/01/alex-hales-england-cricket-interview

      which makes it doubly frustrating that he went and blew it.

      If it turns out he’s also a massive bell-end as part of a team, then that’s even harder to justify continuing to look the other way on his behalf.

      There’s plenty of well-founded bitterness about KP but the two situations are incredibly dissimilar. KP was scapegoated and was a model professional who occasionally said something stupid, was a bit of an outcast for various reasons that don’t add up to much, and who never did anything as bad as Hales has managed to do in a short space of time.

      Anyway, great player he can sometimes be, but I don’t see Alex Hales making much difference today. He’s a great banger of a white ball but those were awkward conditions that wouldn’t really suit his game.

      Goes without saying he’s much better than Vince, mind.

      Like

  19. Rooto Jun 21, 2019 / 8:05 pm

    *Nelson Muntz meme of your choice goes here*

    More seriously, I’m surprised to be in such a minority on here when I, an Englishman, am happy to see England lose*. You lot have my admiration / sympathy to have suffered so much shit from the ECB – as we all have – yet still feel the pull strongly enough to support the ECB’s team.
    To be brutally honest, it makes me feel free.

    *not in the Ashes, however!

    Like

    • Rooto Jun 21, 2019 / 8:09 pm

      Didn’t mean to sound triumphalist. My chosen teams (AFG and WI) are playing absolute dogshit!

      Like

    • nonoxcol Jun 21, 2019 / 9:20 pm

      No, I’m still here with you. Haven’t truly cared about an England match since Melbourne 2013, and actively wanted them to lose at times (most notably summer 2014 and immediately after the 355*).

      Like

  20. Quebecer Jun 21, 2019 / 9:50 pm

    I’d just like to reaffirm my preference for stonking one sided victories.

    Like

    • Deep Purple Fred Jun 21, 2019 / 10:26 pm

      Today was up there with one of the worst days I’ve had this year. I’m trying to arrange something very important to me, and I was thwarted yet again by ignorance, stupidity and incompetence. I was incadescently furious, I was working hard to keep it together.
      Then, towards the end of the day, something started to happen. That cricinfo feed I had running in the background, (not very important but hey I needed a distraction), started to look interesting. And then the incredible thing unfolded. Long story short, I was, against all the odds, actually chuckling on the way home.

      Thank you England, you’ve utterly made my otherwise awful day. And Sri Lanka too, especially Malinga, (is he STILL playing?)

      Just imagine if a country sacrificed it’s cricket program on the alter of winning an ODI world cup, rearranged it’s domestic and international competition to support this, hired a coach who was only good at this, was hosting it at home, publically declared it as a goal, and poured all it’s resources into this, regardless of the cost to its test performance. And then failed to win. That would be bad, but what if they didn’t even make the final four?

      Ignore my fantasies, I’m just shooting the breeze after a long day.
      But shit it was funny.

      Liked by 3 people

      • quebecer Jun 21, 2019 / 11:21 pm

        Genuinely sorry about your day – on both counts.

        P.S. Try to hang in on the ignorance, stupidity and incompetence front, hard as that is. Take a minute, regather, giggle at England, and gird yourself up for another day and take it on again (with maybe a new slant on how?).

        Like

        • Deep Purple Fred Jun 22, 2019 / 11:28 am

          Thanks for your kind comments Quebecer, thoughtful of you. Lost the battle but the war is mine.

          I’d also like to thank Johnny Bairstow, if he’s reading, for the personal contribution he made yesterday to my wellbeing.

          Like

      • dlpthomas Jun 22, 2019 / 2:31 am

        “Just imagine if a country sacrificed it’s cricket program on the alter of winning an ODI world cup, rearranged it’s domestic and international competition to support this, hired a coach who was only good at this, was hosting it at home, publically declared it as a goal, and poured all it’s resources into this, regardless of the cost to its test performance. And then failed to win. That would be bad, but what if they didn’t even make the final four? ”

        Exactly what I was thinking.

        Like

        • Rooto Jun 22, 2019 / 4:37 am

          Release the song! Quick!

          Like

          • Deep Purple Fred Jun 22, 2019 / 2:39 pm

            Took me a while, but I got it in the end.
            I guess the ECB will declare organisational success, regardless of the cricket result. They have their cricket bat guitar.
            Anyway, despite yesterday’s glitch, I expect England will be fine.

            Liked by 1 person

      • Northern Light Jun 22, 2019 / 9:03 am

        In defence of the ECB, they’ve helped to make sure that even if England do fail to make the final four, very few people will actually see it happen. Or care about it. 🙂
        Sadly for them, the same holds true if they end up winning.
        What, really, is the point of it all?

        Liked by 1 person

  21. dArthez Jun 22, 2019 / 3:44 pm

    Afghanistan were really in the mix against India for 78 overs in the match. Then lost both set batsmen to Bumrah in the 79th.

    They’re still in it, but sadly seems like a long shot for them to get the required runs. But it certainly has not been a walkover.

    Like

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