Exactly a week ago, the day before England’s game against Sri Lanka, I derided the World Cup’s format and scheduling for being predictable and boring. Far from being a string of dead rubbers, now England’s only chance to absolutely guarantee reaching the semi finals is to win their next two games.
Pakistan’s performance yesterday will worry many people in the England camp, with the men in green managing to see off what had been, prior to the game, an unbeaten side in the competition. Having won that match against the odds, Pakistan could quite conceivably win their remaining two games and leave England needing at least a win and a draw/tie to qualify.
In other England news, it seems like Archer and Rashid may be nursing injuries. Whether the injuries are serious enough to affect their places in a must-win game, particularly Rashid since his replacement would be significantly inferior, remains to be seen. Personally, I dislike teams picking injured star players as it’s a gamble which rarely pays off. If Roy, Rashid and Archer are forced to play at sub-par levels, I think that says everything you need to know about England’s strength in depth (or lack thereof) and the coach’s lack of faith in their squad members.
Today’s game between India and the West Indies is not quite a dead rubber. India could mathematically fail to reach the semi finals and the West Indies could mathematically reach them, but either possibility is currently vanishingly small. Hopefully this means that the Indian team might relax or the West Indian team go out with guns blazing, giving us a decent contest to watch. After England’s two losses, India are currently the number one ranked ODI team in the world. I suspect they won’t want to surrender that crown as meekly as England have in recent weeks.
In case you missed it, the name for Surrey-based The Hundred team leaked yesterday morning. The team playing at The Oval will be… the Oval Greats. This joins the Manchester Originals, London Spirit, Leeds Superchargers, Birmingham Phoenix, Trent Rockets, Southern Brave and Welsh Fire as the names for the new teams. It’s hard to make fun of them, if only because they seem to be self-parodies. They’re neither fun nor boring, which are probably the two best options if you were creating new team names. An amusing name like the Rocket City Trash Pandas (an American minor league baseball team) ensures strong merchandise sales and can help garner interest from non-sports journalists and tv shows. An intentionally dull name (such as just calling the teams Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, etc.) makes it clear that that the focus is on the sport and the players. Picking safe, tested, mediocre names like ‘Phoenix’, ‘Rockets’ and ‘Originals’ is just the latest move by the ECB seeminly designed to drain almost any enthusiasm about the new competition out of English cricket fans.
As always, please comment on todays game, your ideas for The Hundred team names, or anything else, below.
So, we finally got an answer about “how good are NZ anyway” and the answer is… not quite as good as their early games made them look. At least against the best teams (ie Pakistan, not England) the bowling looks like it has vulnerablities at 4th/5th bowler area.
It’s harder to judge the batting as the pitch was a bit of a bear if we’re honest. Pakistan weathered a spell from Santner that could have blown them away, but they weathered it as much through luck as judgement.
Side note: Nasser really likes the pitches in the tournament, but I’m not so sure. “Absorbing cricket” perhaps, but you can also see real effects from when the clouds break and the sun comes out. NZ lost 5 wickets and then the weather shifted and batting got noticeably easier. Pakistan’s start to the innings also benefited in this way, before the clouds came in again. Now I think you can maybe argue that yesterday it turned out fairly even, but most days it simply hasn’t and it’s extremely annoying.
The loss might force NZ to fix their batting. They were obviously subscribing to the notion of “you don’t change a winning team”, because there is no other explanation for continuing with that opening combination. As last night showed, they can’t just completely rely on Williamson to bail them out every time. Guptill and Latham are struggling, and Munro is just plain no good. Why Nicholls, one of the best batsmen in the world in the past 12 or so months, hasn’t been in the team is anyone’s guess (he has been available after injury for their last 4 games), but he must play now.
Gah, England’s medics strike again.
We have Plunkett, Archer should not have played against Australia.
I thought Archer looked off his peak, I had thought maybe it was just form, but if he had a niggle.
Endless stupidity. Definitely shouldn’t play unless he’s properly recovered. We have plenty of seam bowling.
Rashid is a much harder case as you note due to the lack of adequate replacements.
Looking ahead to Sunday, England will be playing India at Edgbaston. Yesterday, at the same ground (but different pitch) New Zealand were spinning it square with their part timer and all-rounder. Can you imagine India’s reaction to England turning up with Dawson in the team? Or England’s batting unit if they have to face India on a turning surface?
Not sure India can laugh any harder than when they see Vince’s name on the team sheet?
India’s middle order looks a little weak, but their bowling is so good it has bailed them out so far.
Maybe WI can take some quick wickets and take advantage – but they’ll need another good game from Gayle or Brathwaite with the bat too. If I had to bet, I’d go with India.
Roach gets Shankar.
Big test for Jadhav here.
WI have bowled well overall and he needs to not get out too quickly but also keep the scoreboard moving.
Looks like the West Indies lower order has to get them something respectable, never mind come remotely close to winning the game.
Interesting looking at Bairstow’s comments – and those of Morgan before. I know they can come across as almost delusional, but there is another side to it. The confidence required to succeed in any sport is a strange thing. Personally, I usually don’t care where it comes from, as long as it exists, and the confidence of the England batsmen in this Go Go Go approach has to be unshakable. I can kind of see how from the outside this world of certainty comes across badly, but it is necessary. There aren’t many winners of top international competitions in any sport that don’t have it.
However, there is also the point that the air of supreme confidence can cross over in to a form of presumption. Vince is a good example. They have stuck by him, stuck by him, obviously bigging him up, and obviously a player coming in to a team feeling like that is positive. But Vince seems to presume rather than strive, and it seems that the positive aspects of this approach shift qualitatively in to a negative.
It’s a fine line, I think, but it does seem that right now England are on the wrong side of it.
The other point is that this Wold Cup is really showing how the last couple of years has been based in our openers. So much easier for Buttler et al to shine coming in at 200+ with 20 odd overs still to go. Without the openers, we’re a good but hardly great team.
This World Cup has really highlighted to me the pointlessness of the ranking system and that racking up multiple scores of 350+ and 400+ in ODI series, means nothing. I’m not going to lie, I did get drawn into the ‘number one team in the world for 2 years’ and ‘changed the way ODI batting is done’ hype etc. But ultimately, grinding out 250-280 under tournament pressure, trumps all of that.
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The awkward oval jabberwockies
Furtive Manhattan Mancunians
The morgul gondorian midlanders
Maybe ‘verbal diarrhoea’ might suit a team……
Not sure if it is appropriate if a team gets named after Ed Smith.
The London Strausses, the Trent Harrisons, the Wales Morrises, the Leeds Graveses, the Oval Downtons, the Birmingham Clarkes, the Southampton Sanjays and the Manchester Flowers, maybe.
After all, if the idea of the competition is so onanistic…..
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…or possibly name them all after characters in Kevin Pietersen’s seminal 2014 work of faction: The Mood Hoovers, the Big Cheeses, the Principal Skinners, the Blunt Tools and so on….
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The Birmingham Never Leakers, the Leeds Aplomb, the Manchester Good Journalists, the Southern Outside Cricketers, the Trent Will Be Feted, the Welsh Trust, the Oval Card Markers and the London C****.
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The Birmingham 95s, the Leeds Day 4s, the Manchester Standing Ovations, the Southern Nearly Back To His Best, the Trent Redemption, the Welsh Dead Rubber Double Ton, The Oval Tina’s (I like that one) and the London Leaders From The Front.
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Marcus Trescothick – if only he was free for Edgbaston. Great player.
I will always have seeing his test best (the 219 at the Oval), and I’ll always be cheesed off that we came home the day before his 180 in Joburg – one of the best test innings played by an England player in my lifetime. All to get back to work on a January Monday.