World Cup 42 – Afghanistan vs. West Indies (and reaction to the England game)

So England have qualified for their first World Cup semi-final in 27 years and without doubt the most relieved people won’t necessarily be the players but more likely those who are in charge of running English cricket. After the various pronouncements after the 2015 World Cup and the change in emphasis from the red ball game to the white ball game, which many of us still fiercely disagree with, anything less than reaching the last four would have been disastrous and another sad indictment on the ECB. That they have managed to qualify for the knockout stages of their own home World Cup is a relief for all concerned or at least those who have access to Pay-TV anyway.

England went into this game knowing that the only way they could guarantee qualification was with victory and that the knives were sharpened in case they didn’t. They immediately had some fortune by winning the toss and electing to bat on what at first looked like a belter of a pitch, but one that became considerably slower and more two paced as the game went on. Roy and Bairstow once again showed their class at the top of the order by registering another century stand and scoring the bulk of the runs, with the former scoring a run a ball 60 and the latter hitting another ton before falling for 106. I can’t emphasize enough how important the return of Jason Roy has been to the team and not just the fact that he has replaced James Vince. Roy and Bairstow complement each other perfectly with the former often hitting his straps straight away to put the opposition under pressure, which then allows Bairstow to take his time at the start of the innings and then accelerate once he has got the feel for the pitch.

The rest of the side then faltered somewhat on a pitch that became more difficult to score on and all of a sudden, a forecasted score of 350+ became a bit of a slog. The finally reached 305-8 at the end of the 50 overs thanks to some inventive hitting from both Plunkett and the ever-maligned Rashid and there would have been more than one or two nervous England fans biting their fingernails during the interval. Thankfully any cause for alarm was quickly extinguished during the early part of the New Zealand chase.

New Zealand knew that to chase this score down they needed to finally have a decent opening stand rather than relying on Williamson and others to dig them out of a hole, this though, was exactly what they didn’t get with Nicholls getting a rough LBW decision, that he chose not to review, from the ever hapless S. Ravi. Guptill who also looked pretty out of touch this tournament quickly came and went, leaving Williamson and Taylor as the last vestiges of hope for the New Zealand team. Both these batsmen looked in decent touch and having weathered the early England storm, were hoping to kick on, before they were both run out in very different fashions. Williamson was incredibly unlucky to see a return drive from Taylor clip the fingernails of Mark Wood and cannon onto his stumps when he was out of his ground, whereas Taylor had a complete brain fade and took on Rashid arm for a run that wasn’t there and found himself short of his crease. From there it was a case of when rather than if, even with a battling half century from Tom Latham, and New Zealand quickly subsided to 186 all out. I doubt England were expecting as comfortable a victory as they got when they turned up to the Riverside this morning, but some good all-round performances alongside getting the best of conditions, meant they got just that.

So England officially qualify for the World Cup semi-finals and another trip to Edgbaston and unless something seriously strange happens in the Pakistan vs. Bangladesh game (and I mean ICC investigating strange), New Zealand will face the first placed side at Old Trafford. It is likely that the England will come across their favourite nemesis India once again, whilst New Zealand face their antipodean counterparts Australia, though a loss for Australia against the Proteas and a resounding victory for India vs. Sri Lanka could mean a switch at the top of the table.

It will be interesting to see how the media react to this victory and whether they are going to pronounce them a saviours already. For me, I still think they are outsiders to win the World Cup after India and Australia who have looked to be consistently stronger. This side still isn’t playing at its peak and is far too heavily reliant on Roy and Bairstow at the top of the order. There are definite concerns about Buttler’s form (though he might well make me eat my words here) as well as Rashid’s from with the ball and Morgan’s habit of going missing in the big games. I hope they remember that reaching the semi-finals was an absolute bare minimum and that England have had some luck reaching them. That being said, I won’t be surprised if I read an article from Shiny Toy or the like proclaiming them to the be the best ever One Day team, it comes with the territory especially from known idiots like Vaughan who will say anything then happily contradict himself the next day, to try and stay in the limelight. It certainly will be an interesting few days in the build-up to the semi-finals for the small majority who have access to the games at least.

As for tomorrow, we have ourselves another dead-rubber with Afghanistan playing the West Indies for nothing else than pride. Will we see another decent game like we saw on Monday or will either or both of the teams be mentally checked out and ready to head to the airport? And yes, I’m looking at you West Indies!

Feel free to comment on your thoughts about today’s game, tomorrow’s game or anything else you’d like to get off your chest, below:

25 thoughts on “World Cup 42 – Afghanistan vs. West Indies (and reaction to the England game)

  1. Metatone Jul 3, 2019 / 7:16 pm

    Does anyone have any stats on how the toss has influenced games across the tournament?

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    • Sean Jul 3, 2019 / 7:22 pm

      Don’t have any stats to hand, but from many of the games I’ve seen, batting first has led to more victories…

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      • Sean Jul 3, 2019 / 7:29 pm

        I know England have won every game they have batted first. They beat the West Indies chasing but have lost the other 3 that they have had to chase…

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        • thelegglance Jul 3, 2019 / 7:51 pm

          Which is interesting given that before the World Cup, chasing might have been considered their best approach.

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      • Metatone Jul 3, 2019 / 8:45 pm

        Very interesting!

        I have the suspicion that once you adjust appropriately for weak sides collapsing, the figures look even worse. I may have to make a spreadsheet.

        One extra thing to note is that when analysing pitches in a competition such as this you also have to keep in mind the occasionally teams win the toss and then make the wrong choice. If I make the spreadsheet I’ll go into that a bit more, but again, my suspicion is that it makes the pitches look even worse.

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        • Mark Jul 3, 2019 / 8:58 pm

          Of 41 matches played so far only 9 times has the side batting second won chasing a score over 200. And of those 9 times only one was chasing successfully a score over 300.

          Which rather suggest runs on the board does tends to count. Whether that’s down to pressure or pitches I don’t know.

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          • Metatone Jul 4, 2019 / 5:48 am

            I’ll have to dig out some stats from previous WCs, but it used to be that people said chasing (esp these scores of around 260 that we have been getting) was an advantage, b/c you could pace the innings more easily. So I’m really suspecting pitches rather than pressure – also just from watching the games, many of them have steadily gotten worse through the day.

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  2. Marek Jul 3, 2019 / 9:07 pm

    Oyez! Oyez! Match fixers of the world, unite and take over! For your delectation and delight, the next four days will bring you: one match that is completely irrelevant to the outcome of the competition (to go with Monday’s!), one that needs to be won by over 300 runs to mean anything (or presumably for a total to be chased down in ten overs or something ridiculous), and two where the only point of interest is who plays who in the semi-finals, even that being contingent on the result in the other match.

    In the end, I think I can see both pros and cons of this format–although I don’t like it!–but it’s interesting that this possibility hasn’t been considered more seriously by the ICC. (For comparison, iirc the 1999 competition, which had more teams and only slightly fewer matches, only had two dead matches….and one of them has been subject to rumours of being fixed ever since).

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    • nonoxcol Jul 4, 2019 / 7:27 am

      Andy Zaltzman was discussing the idea of bonus points based on winning margins yesterday. Given that football has used goal difference in leagues for ages, rugby uses a bonus point system (based on tries I think?) for leagues and pools, and domestic first class cricket has used a different bonus point system for as long as I’ve been alive, I really don’t know why international cricket has never managed to come up with anything similar. Back in the depths of my illness I had a lot of time on my hands and devised a system for a Test championship (played on International Cricket Captain or EA Sports Cricket 07) which worked quite well. I was using margins by wickets or runs (with extra for innings victories, obviously irrelevant to ODIs), whereas Zaltzman was trying to compensate for pitch vagaries by introducing the idea of percentage winning margins.

      I can’t honestly see a reasonable argument against it. Which is probably why it will never happen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Metatone Jul 4, 2019 / 1:26 pm

        I’m personally finding it a bit odd that NRR comes before head to head.

        NRR is always going to be affected by pitch/weather conditions – basically Pakistan are out of the running b/c they lost heavily to WI in their first game. Now, some of that was bad batting, but equally some of it was just bad luck to be on a pitch that flattered (given later performances) the WI pace attack.

        Of course such things can happen in eg football, goal difference is a thing. But the NRR for Pakistan is virtually unrecoverable despite having won/lost the same number of games, which seems unbalanced,

        Liked by 1 person

  3. bedfont Jul 3, 2019 / 9:30 pm

    Watching the latter stages of the England inning did appear that far from being a collapse it was now a wicket you’d need to play very well to get close to 250 even. On trickier wickets it can be argued England have a tail that starts at 5. Hitters and all rounders fair enough at 180/2 on a belter. Same in tests as we found in Australia or on fast wickets players who turn 350/4 into 600 against tired bowlers can’t turn 100/5 into 180.

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    • thelegglance Jul 3, 2019 / 10:30 pm

      Hmm. For me, I don’t see how it can be denied that England’s approach has served them extremely well, both at home and abroad. But they are going to lose games sometimes – their win record is pretty much better than any other team before them – and that’s normal. Whether they win the World Cup or not, they’re a very fine team indeed. Not perfect, they have flaws, as has every other team before them. But I do find the desire in some quarters to try to pretend they aren’t a very good side a bit weird.

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      • Metatone Jul 4, 2019 / 5:56 am

        Fully agree. One of the reasons we like Test cricket is that the better team tends to win. Whereas (cf Kane Williamson & Wood) a fingertip of good luck can have more influence in an ODI. All of which adds up to ODI teams, even very good ones, losing games here and there.

        I think England’s specific weaknesses are a worry heading into the SF, particularly Rashid’s shoulder – but that is top level sport. I’m also slightly annoyed that Lords seems to suit the Aussie bowling attack quite well, but what can you do?

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  4. man in a barrel Jul 4, 2019 / 6:16 am

    The pitches so far have been a mixed bag. I have only watched a few matches but the pitches seem all to have been slow with uneven bounce and, during the course of 100 overs their slowness and variability have increased. One pitch, admittedly previously used, had sufficient turn to remove Kane Williamson when well-set from a leg break pitched on the stumps. Perhaps the white ball gets soft over the course of 25 overs and that is contributing to the problems.

    It makes me wonder what will happen when the Ashes finally start. Unless the ground staff keep more grass on, these conditions will surely favour the Aussies

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    • Metatone Jul 4, 2019 / 1:16 pm

      Unless the Aussie fast bowler corps all catch the plague or something, England are on for a mullering I think.

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  5. Metatone Jul 4, 2019 / 1:19 pm

    Couldn’t be bothered to watch any of the match today as lots of work interruptions.
    WI seem to have reached 311, hard to see AFG getting there.

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  6. man in a barrel Jul 4, 2019 / 3:49 pm

    Good to see Gayle bowl a few overs! But Ikram Alikhil looks like a real cricketer. He could well develop into the same class as Root or Williamson but I guess he won’t get the match practice unless one of the counties picks him up

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  7. man in a barrel Jul 4, 2019 / 3:51 pm

    157-2 off 30 overs. Afg certainly up with the rate but do they have the depth to keep going?

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  8. man in a barrel Jul 4, 2019 / 4:16 pm

    Careless run out of Najibullah…. Suddenly a successful chase looks less likely. Still they are putting up more fight than the Kiwis at the moment

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  9. Metatone Jul 4, 2019 / 5:25 pm

    So no wins for Afghanistan, but across the matches they have grown, especially as a batting side.
    Have to think that if they could get a decent number of fixtures they could build a team that could win a couple of games by the next WC. But will they get those games?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marek Jul 4, 2019 / 8:34 pm

      For all that the ICC have screwed up, one of the things they’ve done quite well in my opinion–apart from the ludicrously small World Cups–is have a more structured format for playing 50-over matches, which particularly benefits lower-placed teams.

      So the answer is yes–they’re guaranteed to get at least 24 ODIs against a range of other top-13 countries, in a range of conditions, during the period 2020-22…plus whatever they can arrange between now and next April (at the moment an away series against Zimbabwe–although I would be surprised if it takes place given what’s happening there at the moment–and a “home” series against Ireland in March).

      From 2023, unless they change the system, they should get a three-match series against every other top-13 country between every World Cup.

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  10. Rooto Jul 4, 2019 / 6:50 pm

    One could say Afghanistan didn’t deserve 9 matches. I’d say Afghanistan didn’t deserve to have to play 9 matches, considering they were firm favourites to lose 8 of them (they had a strong record against WI).
    The format has let the cricket world down. Let’s simply have a Champions’ Trophy for the big teams, and a World Cup that allows the world in. 14-16 teams minimum, with a round where minnows can play each other and have a match or two against bigger teams. That way they experience the competition, grow and improve – and don’t necessarily get thrashed all round the country for 6 weeks. Then the big boys can play.
    As I said before (somewhere), we’re well beyond 2007 now, in terms of the big 3’s financial and playing strength. Fears for India losing out, and thereby money being lost, are now just paranoia.

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    • Marek Jul 4, 2019 / 8:45 pm

      I would go back to the 2003 format–14 teams in two groups of seven plus a Super Six stage.

      To me that balances the two: weaker teams get some exposure to stronger teams but also play games against each other; India get a (virtually) guaranteed nine games, which of course is the main aim of the World Cup; the winner has to play every other top-six team and two of the teams ranked 7 to 10, so you need to be consistently good against good teams; and it avoids the fatal flaw of 2007 where one bad game against a lower-ranked team could put you out.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Gulbadin Khan Jul 8, 2019 / 3:55 am

    Afghanistan had grown its cricket since last some year. It had produced the world class spinners like Rashid Khan and Muhammad Nabi.

    Like

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