It’s been an interesting insight into the World Cup from outside over the last week. I’ve had a client over in the UK with me, a German resident in California, and someone unaware of cricket beyond it being a funny little game played by the strange English amongst others.
First day in London he saw a bit of one of the games on the TV, and expressed having no idea what was happening, but that it looked like the crowd were having fun. Knowing I was a cricket fan, he asked about the game, and what was happening – not so much about the World Cup itself, beyond wondering why there was so few teams in it, but more about the sport and to get a handle on how it is played and what the idea of it was.
Like any unfamiliar sport (and trust me, my eyes glaze over when Sean and Peter get all enthusiastic about rounders, fake rugby or whatever else it is they play in the States), he didn’t really know what was going on, but he was sufficiently interested to ask. Cricket does itself no favours by revelling in the pretence that it’s a complicated game, when it is no such thing. The explanation took 30 seconds and he had a fair handle on what was happening. All sports are complex in the details, but cricket is and always has been a chuck-ball-down-and-hit-it kind of game in its essence, and one easily grasped in its fundamentals.
For the remainder of his time here he had a passing interest. Not the one of a convert, but that of someone who likes sport and is aware of it going on. He noted in a WhatsApp message that the Australian team were outside his hotel as he got back one afternoon for a start. Naturally, being busy meant I saw very little of the play in any of the games, though a meeting that adjourned to a London pub offered the England-Sri Lanka game on the TV. Or at least it did until the start of the England U21 football match, at which point, and with the cricket very much in the balance, it was unceremoniously turned over. That match went about as well as the cricket did, incidentally.
Likewise, the Women’s World Cup got far more attention and discussion between us during the week, notably the German, English and American teams’ progress, and the vagaries of VAR. Towards the end of his trip here finally came his summary about the cricket – “no one here seems very interested”. Ouch.
He’s not wrong, and the viewing figures for the Women’s World Cup make it very clear where public attention is aimed, even before Wimbledon begins which will dominate airwaves, print and screens. How depressing, that what should be the opportunity for cricket to showcase its wares worldwide remains an exclusive club, not just for the competitors, but also for those observing, or not observing as is the reality.
While I may have been keeping up to date with the action, it feels like I’m one of a die-hard band who love a sport that has gone beyond being sneered at (remember the days when we used to have to defend cricket? Doesn’t happen now), and is so irrelevant to the wider country that it is simply ignored. Just like a veteran rock band’s latest tour, the response is more likely to be surprise that it’s still happening.
England’s travails have had the side effect of making the latter group stage much more interesting, a noble and selfless gesture on their part as most would agree. Pakistan are one of the teams that can overhaul them, and today’s game against Afghanistan should allow them to go above the hosts, albeit having played a game more.
In the other match, Australia and New Zealand are almost there, so while it will be an intriguing match up, it offers little beyond practice for the semi-finals and a bit of jockeying for position. Loading the key games towards the back end of the tournament may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but only in an organisation so lacking in confidence in its own sport that it feels an ordinary draw at the business end would lack inherent drama.
Comments as ever, below.
So, with England struggling, one might feel that this would be a popular moment for Afghanistan to pull it together and get that first WC victory over another test nation…
However, I am torn, as I reckon England should win their own battles rather than wait for Pakistan to slip up.
Are NZ in any danger if they lose again today?
If they lose all their games, they will still be on 11 points. Since Pakistan / Bangladesh can only reach 11 points, and since they play each other, only one of them can, and England can reach 12 points, the worst that could happen is that Pakistan / Bangladesh tie with them for fourth, and then it is down to Net Run Rate. Which is probably (barring extreme losses / wins) going to favour New Zealand. It is roughly the same story for India. Mathematically they could still be eliminated, but that would require massive routs all over, for them to slip to 5th on Net Run Rate.
For England fans, the best they can hope for is a New Zealand win (or a tie) – it might mean that fringe players get a chance for New Zealand, with qualification assured then.
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I’m not sure I really heard this but, on radio, Ramiz Raja said that Shadab reminded him of John Emburey, “a magician with the ball.”
Did he really say that?
Since he earlier talked about “the beautiful city of Leeds” I wouldn’t be surprised.
Kiwi’s looking pretty good. I think I may have under-estimated them.
Looks like Afghanistan will do England a massive favour. Undoubtedly their first tour to England will be scheduled in 2067 …
And if Pakistan somehow win this game they can send massive gifts to the umpires. At least 2 clear outs denied by rather average umpiring (Afghanistan had no review left).
Poor umpiring has amassed more points than Afghanistan and West Indies.
Pakistan get away with a rather poor chase. And while it makes for great drama and all that, I do feel that in this day and age, we ought to expect better than this.
Good thing Holding is not from Afghanistan, because he’d be relieved of commentary duties after seeing this umpiring performance.
The umpiring was poor, but the captaincy from Gulbadin was staggeringly bad. How he gave himself not one, but two overs at the death when spinners were getting plenty of assistance from the pitch and weren’t being picked by Imad was unfathomable.
It is really not straightforward, even in hindsight to decide how to utilise the two overs of Rashid + 1 of Mujeeb after the 45th over. Bear in mind that Wasim was dropped in the 46th over of Naib’s bowling (and if that can happen, we also have to bear in mind that it might well have happened if say Zadran was bowling that over).
The only spinners that he could have given the ball to were Shenwari (ODI bowling average of 37 who bowled 8 overs for 8-0-32-0, and bowled his last over in the 45th) or say Zadran (who had not bowled at all, average also in the 30s). Rashid Khan, Mujeeb and Nabi had finished / were about to finish their allotted ten overs.
Was not a great call, but at least understandable. He would have been blasted as well, if he had given Zadran the ball, only for his only over to go for the same 18 runs. Which could have happened (due to not having bowled all match). New Zealand made the mistake of bowling out their front-line bowlers against West Indies when Carlos Brathwaitte was going ballistic and that could have cost them the game.
Likewise not many allrounders (Shenwari and Zadran are both allrounders) will do great bowling the 50th over, if they have just 6 runs to defend.
Personally, I think I would have gone for
46: Zadran (Naib bowled that one, one drop and one lucky edge for runs, 18 runs)
47: Shenwari (Rashid bowled that one, one lucky edge for runs, silly runout, 10 runs)
48: Rashid Khan (Mujeeb bowled that one, 2 runs of it)
49: Mujeeb (Rashid bowled that one, 10 coming from it)
50: Rashid Khan (Naib bowled that one, missed runout, Pakistan get over the line)
But even that might easily have come unstuck, especially with a drop or two, and lucky edges, as happened in the game.
Of course, had the umpiring been a bit better, all of this might have been completely irrelevant. Sure one can say that the runouts evened things out, but if Pakistan felt the pressure without those umpiring howlers they got away with, the pressure would have been even bigger, if they had not gotten away with it.
NZ making hard work of this chase, just looking at cricinfo. Is the ball swinging or turning round corners?
NZ batting is just weak this time around, apart from Williamson.
(Cue them battering England, but that doesn’t change the facts…)
Pretty poor from NZ. Really not sure the made the most of their position when getting Aus 90 odd for 5, and their response in their innings has been unimpressive to say the least.
And even though he hasn’t taken many wickets so far, the Aussie bowling with Lyon in the team looks much more complete.
Cricket needs a big event on free to air tv. Rugby Union has the World Cup and Six Nations, Athletics has the Olympics and World Championships. Tennis has Wimbledon (and French Open), even Golf still has two days of the Masters on the BBC.
10 million watched the Women’s Hockey team win Olympic gold, so perhaps T20 cricket should be in the Olympics.
I suppose the ECB would say the 15 over a side tournament from next year is the big free to air event.
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Cricket absolutely should be in the Olympics in some form or other, preferably T20. A lot of Brits probably know more about curling or dressage than they do about cricket, and certainly much more about gymnastics and rowing.
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The ECB don’t want it in the Olympics because it will probably happen in the English summer. And that would mean losing money.
I’ve got to admit to feeling left entirely cold by this World Cup. I’ve been to three matches so far and will be going to Edgbaston tomorrow involving a 5am start and a coach to Birmingham. The cricket lover in me used to look forward to a day like tomorrow with relish and there’s an element of me that is still looking forward to it but the whole experience has just been very meh so far. It’s a shame as I’ve been looking forward to it for so long.
Everything about the tournament is just so corporate, so sterile and dull from the beer to the music played at the grounds, to the on pitch hosts clearly not knowing much about cricket. The over organising of everything to do with it (legacy of London 2012 – it was hyper organised and went well therefore all events regardless of size, scale and whether it remotely worked fine before must also be hyper organised with hundreds of helpers everywhere). Unprecedented queues for a beer or some food at grounds I’ve been to for internationals on numerous occasions and never had to queue much at all.
The empty seats everywhere where the corporates have failed to turn up – most of the upper tier of the new Rugby stand end at Headingley was empty for the England game last week. That’s before I’ve got on to the games which have tended to be on the epically tedious side with only a few close games let alone cliffhangers along the way. While I do think YJB’s moaning about the pitches is a bit tedious, I don’t think that the pitches have produced many memorable games. (fair play to Afghanistan today and last week but did anyone really think they’d actually win?
England have done what many England teams do in all sports. Get very good at a Plan A and then when a different variable in introduced, be so blindsided by it and fail to think about why, wherefore and what may be going wrong. See England rugby team in recent times – but at least they may have time to arrest that.
I can’t say I’m looking forward to the Ashes much either and nor are many of the guys I go to cricket with regularly. Normally I’d be blocking days out the calendar and so on.. This year. Not sure I care.
That said I’ve really enjoyed trips to see games at Beckenham and Tunbridge Wells this year in the CC and RLODC and will undoubtedly enjoy a couple of evenings with friends at T20 matches over the rest of the summer. But from next year that could well be taken away too with 2 of the 3 comps relegated and the other under threat from a march into obscurity.
I don’t want to become an old bore but I do feel that cricket is in a very difficult place at the moment, particularly in England. But enough has been written about that, and I won’t add my grumpiness to that.
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Interested, but sorry, to hear about your experiences at the world cup matches. I feel that this corporate branding and seamless (read identikit) match days will receive a big boost next year with the Hundred
I felt your comment deserved a wider audience. Well written sir.
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Thanks! While I sound like an old moaner, I’m only 32! Just bewildered at how things are going at such a rate of knots in a bizarre direction. Not just the occasional weird “cricket doesn’t help itself” type decision but what is seemingly a Stanford on a monthly basis!
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You young fogey. 😉
It seems to have resonated with a fair few so far. A reminder of the basic rule of all publications, that the comments are better than the article.
Nothing wrong in being an old moaner! Doesn’t matter what your age, if you have something to moan about, or just advance an opinion, be it 32 or 102!
It does amuse me how governing bodies and Public relation companies try to justify the cost of watching sport in this country. No matter what the event they will immediately compare it to buying tickets to the Royal Opera House or watching some of the biggest rock bands on the planet.
My mate went to see The Rolling Stones last year, and he paid about £150 a ticket for him and his wife. Totally ridiculous, and yet they had a great night out. Keef can still play all the riffs, and (Peter Pan) Jagger can still sing all the songs.
Pity the England cricket team can’t chase down 220 against SL.
I had enough going to test matches in 2012. I was at Day 2 and Day 3 of the 1st test v South Africa at the Oval. I had had enough of being doused with beer, knees digging into the seat in front because The Oval crammed more seats into the stands I used to go in, and I just thought that when the Ashes came up in 2013, I was going to be asked to pony up £70 for the “pleasure”. I decided, there and then, that was the end of my ticket-buying days (I used to buy the tickets for my fellow cricket club members). I didn’t apply for the 2013 tickets, and never regretted it. I got into Lord’s through a friend in 2015, and yet the pangs of missing test cricket meant I succumbed last year when a friend said I could buy the 1st Day at the Oval v India, I decided to take the plunge. I’d lost a few pounds since 2012, but it was still a deeply uncomfortable experience for the entire day, and that didn’t count the Cook love-in. You would have to pay me to go to the Ashes test this year. I sometimes wonder how many media guys have experienced the nonsense you have to go to to attend an international game now.
I did not consider going to the World Cup. Didn’t give it a moment’s thought. I am now pretty much over attending major sporting events in the UK. For example, I am a mad Boston Red Sox fan. I wanted no part of this nonsense tonight. If I want to see a Red Sox v Yankees game, and it will be my first when I do, I want it at Fenway or Yankee Stadium. Not some corporate whorefest. The game tonight was incredibly low quality, but MLB don’t care.
I haven’t been to a county game this year as work is mad. I have a couple of weeks off coming up so I am going to Surrey v Kent on 8th of July. That will do me.
It’s not just cricket. I stopped going to football too. I was a season ticket, and mad keen away fan. I’d need to take out a second mortgage to do that now, and I earn a lot more than I did then. It’s all about making players and businesses money, providing the lowest quality food and drink for the highest price they can get away with, and soaking the punters. I’m pretty much done.
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The Selvey contribution to this is priceless. I have no professional link to sky. Well, you did used to write a column for them, I believe. But it’s not the Sky link we’ve worried about.
Can you get cricket for a tenner a month?
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So I had a NOW TV discount voucher and it’s still costing me £26/month.
The 1st month has been worth it b/c I’ve been working from home a lot and there has been a World Cup match every day and a couple of F1 races (I haven’t watched F1 in years) – I suspect the 2nd month is less value (I count 8 matches and a couple of F1 races) and I’m actually in 2 minds about cancelling.
Imagine that, cancelling before the SF & F of a competition you’ve watched many of the early rounds of.
Which might be sensible for you (not sure how much disposable income you have). There are 2 Grand Prix in July, one of which is the British one (which is on FTA if I am not mistaken).
Also such a price tag is quite steep, if you work an office job, and will miss 50+ per cent of all the action due to making a living – so for practical reasons, they are already excluding large numbers of people.
It is almost as if the ECB and Sky are desperate to make certain interest in cricket will not increase.
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…and of course you need to be ‘cabled up’ to buy the bargain NowTV day/month/another cash-cow pass…
Ever reliable. Giles must be so proud.
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I know everyone is talking about Pakistan as the threat to England, but I honestly think the Banglas have been consistently the better team out of Ban/Pak/SriL in this competition. I fancy them to beat Pakistan and very possibly be the team that knocks England out.
The Pakistan thing might be a result of the current number of points. That is, if Pakistan beat Bangladesh then England automatically have to avoid defeat in one match and win the other to go through. If it’s the other way round, then England only have to win one match unless Bangladesh also beat India–and unless Bangladesh completely wallop Pakistan or beat India as well, then even one point from two matches would be enough.
Yes, all fair, and England could win out too – it’s just the Banglas are well capable of beating Pakistan, and India will be looking at he semis after they thump England, so if ever he Banglas have a chance of taking them down, it’s then.
Plus – and this is probably my most crucial point in this analysis – I really really really want the Banglas to make it, so don’t spoil it please.
Sorry! I’m with you on that analysis-and I think that generally Bangla have been the better team this time.
Is it just me, or has the Pakistan batting morphed into England’s circa 2015?–aiming for nice sensible totals of 282 with a solid top 3 striking at 83. And the occasional spectacularly off day…
To be fair, in this competition it’s not been a bad approach, but I suspect they may come a cropper if the pitches become better for batsmen.
For the last week, Nasser has been droning on about the inadequacies of Khawaja as a 50 over batsman. Sadly I was unable to watch today when UK top-scored for Australia. Did his fellow commentators (you cannot call those sycophants “pundits” with a straight face, can you?) call him out?
Is he still trying to make the point that ugly runs at no. 3 can sometimes win you a game?