World Cup Match 32 – England vs. Australia.

Today saw another pretty one-sided, turgid affair with Bangladesh comfortably beating Afghanistan on a pitch that was well suited to their spinners. The pitch at the Aegeas Bowl has become consistently slow and low as the tournament has gone on leading to some fairly dull cricket for those watching. At least today’s game is the last one to be scheduled at the Bramsgrove Bowl as England certainly wouldn’t fancy batting on that pitch, which was similar to the one at Headingley and it is quite possible England would have collapsed in a heap for 150 all out playing silly shots and aiming for 330 when 260 is a par score on such pitch. It doesn’t look like this will be the case tomorrow after seeing George Dobell’s earlier tweet:

If England’s game plan is to have a pitch that does something for the quicks and if they do plan to leave some of the grass on this, then their plan is not without huge risks as the Aussie bowling attack of Starc, Cummins and company will be licking their lips at the prospect of bowling to a weakened England batting order with some help from the pitch. Even if they do take some of the grass off the pitch, then it would be a huge surprise if there is much turn for either of the side’s spinners, as England no doubt don’t want to be undone the way they were undone at Headingley. Is this particularly fair to both sides, probably not, but in a way, it piles more pressure on this English team to perform tomorrow in the hunt for a semi-final slot.

We now know that Jason Roy has once again been ruled out of this English side, so we get to have the pleasure of seeing James Vince open the innings, play a couple of pleasing cover drives and then get out at slip chasing a wide one for a pretty but ineffective 15. It was Shane Warne who said that Monty Panesar “rather than having played 33 Tests, had merely played his first one 33 times.” The same argument can be made about James Vince who it seems hasn’t learnt a single lesson in his time in an England shirt and is in the team not on merit, but because he has ‘the right values’. Either that or he has some serious dirt on Ed Smith, naturally the latter would be funnier to see. This absolutely has to be last chance saloon for Vince, another failure would surely make his place in the team untenable and anything less than a serious, match influencing knock should not be tolerated. The so-called ‘put up or shut up’ time has come for Mr Vince.

As for the rest of the side, if there is unlikely to be much turn or some grass is left on the wicket, then you would expect England to rest one of their spinners in favour of playing Liam Plunkett, who has the uncanny knack of taking wickets in the middle of the innings. One would suggest that Moeen is at greatest risk, especially after his performance with the bat in Leeds, where it was suggested rather kindly that he has dumplings for brains at times. Rashid is also bowling well, but as is often the case, England have a history of dropping a bowler every time the batsmen fall in a heap, so Moeen’s perceived superiority with the bat might elicit favour. The England selectors normally have a habit of making the wrong decisions, so expect Moeen to open and Root to be dropped!!

As for Australia, they are likely to stick with the same side that comprehensively beat Bangladesh with their hopes that either Warner or more likely Finch can get them off to a flier whilst the rest of the batsmen bat around Steve Smith who will hope to anchor the innings. I still think Australia’s bowling attack is a little weak, especially if you can see off Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins with the new ball, so ideally, they’ll want the pitch to be doing something or to bat first and put runs on the board to create scoreboard pressure for England.

Make no mistake, this is a massive game for England with a loss meaning that they are likely to need to beat India and New Zealand to progress to the Semi Finals. If England collapse in a heap once again, when the pressure is on, they’ll be a whole lot of red faces at the ECB’s headquarters and some pretty difficult questions coming their way. Not that Geoffrey Boycott seems worried with the upcoming game, after all we won 2 World Wars! What a complete and utter plumb!

What? Someone say he wasn’t talking about England’s chances at the World Cup? I must have misunderstood….

As always, please do leave your thoughts below…

Unmoved

I didn’t watch a ball.

That’s a really poor confession by a cricket blogger who has been going on about how important ODI cricket is to this country and how we can’t take it seriously is holding us back. But I didn’t watch a lot of the 2011 Final (shopping), 2007 (at football) and 1999 (playing cricket). I woke up several times to see this was a pretty one sided final, so I stayed in bed. Well done Australia, but it was a bit like Germany winning the football world cup. You recognise their brilliance, their technical and mental superiority, their will to win and their drive, but you can’t help but hate that it’s your most accursed rivals doing it. It’s a bit like cheering on the dealer at the blackjack table.

What is clear, from the re-run, is that once again Australia were the best at taking wickets. For all the talk about the batting, the sixes, the big bats, small boundaries et al, it was Australia who didn’t look like conceding 300 and facing difficult chases, or taking on water in major chases of their own. Their only loss was the only one away from home, when they walked into a maelstrom in Auckland, and were beaten by New Zealand. I don’t think many seriously believed that result would be repeated last night. We hoped, but at the end, we never got the performance we wanted to see. But they were the stars of the tournament for me – their no fear attitude, their resilience in many games, and their sheer joie de vivre is an example to many nations.

Australia have much of that energy and passion too, and they have the better players (for now) in the crunch. This has been a sobering tournament for many outside the ANZAC region. These two teams had the best bowling line-ups. India took a lot of wickets, and won a particularly impressive victory over South Africa, but once up to one the top two, they were easily beaten. It may be an interesting debate to see if India would have beaten New Zealand in a game of importance, but that’s by the by. This format only really gets interesting when it comes to the knockouts.

Which goes against the grain, I know. While watching Ireland play really, really well, ultimately this competion is about who wins, not who does well early. Colombia and Costa Rica and Chile all played some superb football in the World Cup last year, but they never made the semis. Ireland, sadly, have to face the commercial realities. India, and therefore the ICC, don’t give a shit. We can moan and complain all we want, and I really want to moan and complain, but there’s little point. Sport has been stolen from us by TV companies, sponsors and big businesses. By businessmen who care about the bottom line. It’s of no interest to them that the associates had certainly moved a step forward, even if the results of all but Ireland didn’t reflect that. As a supporter of a lower league football team, I’m still livid about the Premier League. There’s only so much resentment I can have in my heart. Of course it’s wrong what they are doing to the World Cup. I would be stunned if anyone gave a crap about the views of any fans outside of India. If they kicked up, then maybe, just maybe, there might be a change.

I see there is a debate about this being an outstanding tournament. It was pretty good, but not outstanding in my eyes. I’m with those who say there weren’t enough iconic matches, close fought contests to live in the memory. Too many hammerings. So the Irish wins over West Indies, UAE and Zimbabwe are only really joined by the New Zealand v Australia game and the iconic match, and shot, of the tournament – New Zealand v South Africa and Grant Elliott’s six. That was a MOMENT. I have nearly all that game recorded, and I’ll be keeping that, I can tell you.

We’ve got this far without mentioning England. We were a monumental embarrassment. The passage of time has not eased my anger. Not in the slightest. I see invocations that we should “build for 2019” and that this means a certain player should not be picked. Stuff that. I couldn’t trust this lot to build a six inch wall with lego bricks. They were meant to be building towards this, but some rocket scientists couldn’t tell our decent team was getting old, and that of all of that team to back in an ODI format, a beautiful batsman with 3 ODI hundreds up until end 2014, and a captain with all the invention and flexibility of a steel cage, rather than a bloke who may not have smashed it out of the park but seemed to make scores and a maverick with a penchant for being a bit out of line. In my opinion Root, Buttler and possibly Ali are the only three who are certain to be in our 2019 team, injury permitting. The rest requires inventive thinking, patience, skill and a bit of luck. It will need the second of those in abundance. The mob in charge only have patience when they might be proved embarrasingly wrong. That’s the management skill of a dinosaur.

Many times last year we were angry at the way the Ashes had been thrown to the wind, how there was no proper review of the failures, and that history should never forgive those people for this if they didn’t do well in the World Cup. For this was what we had cleared the decks for. To have a proper go at the World Cup. Oh yes, I know the Aussies wanted it moved too, but we were the only country not to play tests in the run up to the World Cup. We had the plans, the opportunity and the schedule that the ECB wanted in the run-up to the most important international tournament. The rest is history. We made it about a captain’s retirement gift, which we decided not to give him anyway. We made it about undermining players like Woakes and Taylor by changing their roles on the first day of the competition. We made it about data. We made ourselves a laughing stock. My Aussie mates are laughing at me for giving a stuff about this lot. They see our lot as a class-ridden, public schoolboy, pampered secluded bunch of people you’d take home to your mum. They see us as an establishment team. A team for the toffs. Good grief. Up until that last Ashes tour, they were beginning to get a bit cheesed off of us beating them. We’ve fallen miles.

So that’s the World Cup in the books. I had a good time, the blog was well populated with excellent comments, and great insight on many occasions. We now move forward to England’s tour of the West Indies, county cricket and more KP. I’m sure there’s still a lot of fuel in the tanks.

As for the competition, I’ll try to do the calculations this week. I know I got the highest team score of the tournament spot on (417) so maybe I should just declare myself winner!

Carry on…..

UPDATE – Lead picture and story on the Mail’s cricket page…. dog whistle anyone?

Mail Obsession

2015 World Cup Final – Australia v New Zealand

Well. The Final.

I’m not one for previews, as I think the hype of these things gets too much. Too many people getting far too carried away, with silly press, silly angles and me being world class Mr Grumpy.

I want New Zealand to win. It’s anti-big three, the Aussies need something like this in their own back yard to go spectacularly wrong (with apologies to my Aussie mates), and well, the Black Caps appear to be nice guys playing above themselves.

But the Aussies are going to win. Just feel it in my bones. They needed to be got shot of before the Final for me, and they never really looked like being defeated in the knockout phase.

Comments as and when. I’ll be on, I’m sure, in the morning. Good luck New Zealand.

Oil

Hello.

Well, I’ve seen a lot of the stuff over the past few days, and also noted that the Sun have commissioned a Yougov poll on Kevin Pietersen. Yes, you read that correctly. This has got seriously stupid

It’s a Saturday night, I’ve been off my feet all day, and recovering from a superb do last night. Everything is concentrated on the World Cup Final and there will be a post put up for that. I will then do the totting up of all the points, and hopefully announce a winner in the next couple of days.

  • PK Troll has Australia
  • SimonH has New Zealand
  • Gambrinus has New Zealand
  • Arushatz has Australia
  • D’Arthez has Australia
  • John Owen has Australia
  • Rooto has Australia
  • Grumpy Gaz has Australia
  • Arron Wright has New Zealand
  • Steve has Australia

The rest of us, bar one (Sir Peter), had South Africa.

Of course, the heart-strings were pulled by Martin Crowe’s piece. It would take a heart of stone not to be saddened by the thoughts in there, but also the inspiration this sort of thing might have. I think most of us are old enough to remember how good Crowe was, and what it would mean to him and all that went before. I wish New Zealand good luck, and Martin Crowe any comfort he can take. Truly awe inspiring writing.

Thank you for all the comments. Cool refreshment of choice was a beer called Freedom last night. Very agreeable, and not Czech.

Enjoy the final.

2015 World Cup Semi-Final – India v Australia

Can’t they both lose?

Comments below. I’ll be awake a bit earlier tomorrow, so I’ll try to watch some of this on the train if I can get my Sky Go up and running.

We are all Black Caps now (presumably if you aren’t Indian or Australian or desperate to win the contest).

Thanks for all the nice words below. It’s always good to know people like the blog.

2015 World Cup Semi-Final – New Zealand v South Africa

The first semi-final will send a new team to the World Cup Final. Will it be Dmitri’s tip for the championship, South Africa, or will it be everyone’s darling team, New Zealand.

Needless to say, I have a job to hold down and need to sleep, so won’t be watching much. But you can comment away downstairs….

2015 World Cup Quarter-Final – Sri Lanka v South Africa

Feel free to comment, and that includes all the journos who had to fly home because their newspaper budgets don’t stretch to watching the denouement of a major world tournament because England have been knocked out. You want an indication of how cricket is falling out of our fabric of sporting life?

Still, never mind. We were never any good at this one day lark.

Enjoy proper players playing properly because they aren’t paralysed with fear and their coaches aren’t in love with Moneyball. Well at least until South Africa come out to bat, but then again, they are there at least.

Comments below.