The funny thing with dead rubbers is that they normally go one of two ways, either they are a complete procession with one team already mentally checked out or they prove to be a very different kettle of fish with both teams playing without any pressure of needing to win the game. The Sri Lanka vs. West Indies game looked like it was going to be the former but, in the end, it turned out to be a close game between both sides, with only decisions at key times leading to a close Sri Lankan victory.
It certainly didn’t start that way with the West Indies bowling attack showing all the urgency and intent of MS Dhoni’s innings on Sunday; indeed it would have been fitting if they’d brought their beach towels and a small BBQ to grill some shrimp on. Sri Lanka made the most of the West Indian inertia with the ball as Perera and Thirimanne helped shape the innings around a wonderful century for Avishka Fernando. I certainly hadn’t come across this young lad before today, but the poise at the crease alongside some varied stroke play means that there is some hope for the Sri Lankan fans to grasp as for their team’s success in the future. I can certainly see some flaws in his technique, and these will undoubtedly be tested in the future, but it is always heart-warming seeing a 21-year kid make some runs on the international stage.
It seemed doubtful that a checked out West Indian team would get near the 339 that they needed for victory and to no-one’s surprise they slipped to 84-4 and then 199-6, with many of the so-called big hitters in the side once again getting out cheaply. Nicholas Pooran and Fabian Allen had other ideas and they brought the West Indies close to a world record run chase and victory before both perishing in the end as the run-rate climbed higher. Pooran has been around for a while now and has been in and out of this West Indian batting line up, but he played an innings which was just as good as Fernando’s and hopefully will now be given a longer leash to prove his credentials. As for Allen, he didn’t have the best time with the ball, but showed that he could be a dangerous batsman lower down the order and deserves time in international cricket to hopefully improve some areas with his bowling. All in all, it proved to be an entertaining game for fans in the North East who have starved of international cricket by our appalling administrators.
Tomorrow’s game sees India play Bangladesh in what is a must win game for the tigers. I have been very impressed by Bangladesh all tournament (I saw their game against South Africa live at the Oval) and it is clear that they have benefitted from playing international cricket more regularly. Though this seems at odds with the current ‘modus operandi’ of the ICC who are determined to keep international cricket as an old boys’ club. It would be refreshing to see Bangladesh perform well against a strong Indian side tomorrow, but I just don’t see them winning unless MS Dhoni decides to have another ‘strange moment’. As for India, you would guess they will be fired up after some of the criticism they received after their defeat to England and a win would secure their place in the semi-finals leaving 3 teams fighting for the final 2 slots. Here’s hoping to a close game at least, but I can see India winning comfortably.
Away from the World Cup, Ali Martin retweeted a piece that I totally missed last summer (and apologies if this has been covered elsewhere on the blog, my memory isn’t quite what it once was) about the possibility of showing one Test a summer live on FTA:
Now it’s a lovely idea and one that every cricket fan would surely embrace, but there is just one major issue, Sky would never allow it to happen. Sky’s model is all around paying their sporting content and only showing it on their platform (hence why they chose not to bid for Champions League rights), so why on earth would they suddenly become so charitable when they really don’t need to be? Sky have also paid an enormous amount of money to secure cricket rights up until 2024, which is the very same cash that is currently lining Tom Harrison’s pockets each year, whilst being squeezed by other providers who are chipping away at Sky’s stranglehold on the sports market such as the rights for Spanish Football and coverage of the Australian cricket summer amongst others, have been snapped up by rival Pay-Tv firms. So for them to offer to show one of the premium Tests for free on FTA TV would be totally unviable for them from a commercial stand-point. It’s a nice idea, but in the real world, I’m afraid it will never happen, and cricket will once again remain behind the paywall.
Feel free to comment with any thoughts on the above or on tomorrow’s game below: