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