England vs Bangladesh – Comfortably Done

In most ways, England’s exceedingly comfortable victory over Bangladesh was entirely to be expected, and occurred more or less as it should have, given the difference in playing resources.  But England’s defeat to a Pakistan team who consistently send people to a thesaurus to check for synonyms for “mercurial” lent a slight air of doubt about how well England are equipped to win the competition.   It’s the natural state of being for most England supporters to be pessimistic about their team’s prospects, having been magnificently unsuccessful in ODIs for 40 years, even when they’ve had a good team.  But just as one defeat oughtn’t have led to increased resignation that it would all happen again, nor should this dominant display lead to any greater certainty about their prospects.

England are a very fine team indeed, with a batting line up that has now broken an all time ODI record by passing 300 six matches in a row.  That is a fine level of consistency, and a mark of how far they’ve come in the last few years that the 311 in the South Africa game felt a disappointing total, and the 386 today a return to what might have been expected.  For a team as good as England’s, reaching the semi-final stage ought to be reasonably straightforward, and from that point knock out cricket is an entirely different beast.  That’s not to say that England are definitely going to qualify, for the matches against Australia, West Indies, New Zealand and India are fraught with peril.   But it is to say that a side with aspirations of winning the competition ought to be confident.  There are two ways of looking at it – that all of those games are a danger, certainly, but with six wins likely to be enough, two victories in the bag, and barring major surprises, wins against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan to come, England should only need two victories against the heavyweights.

Bangladesh are of course one of the lesser fancied teams in the competition, but they are not the minnows of years past either (though it must be noted those minnows despatched England in both 2011 and 2015), and despite falling a long way short of England’s total today, they still showed they are far from a poor side.  A routine win, certainly, but one made routine because of how good England were.

Jason Roy was the star of England’s innings, his 153 coming off a mere 121 balls, and fairly evenly paced from the start.  Even after such a score, the manner of his dismissal caused a degree of disquiet, which perhaps goes to show little has really changed.  Having hit the first three balls of Mehidi’s over for six, Roy clearly had every intention of aiming for six sixes in the over.  The fourth ball was every bit as much there to hit as the previous three, but he lost his shape and skied it.  It wasn’t an outrageous shot, by any stretch, so it was more a matter of execution than intent, and there is always the danger in basing judgements on outcome.  “Great shot, great shot, great shot, you idiot£ is an invariably unfair way of looking at it.  Still, it can be argued that he was seeking a personal milestone rather than a team one in so doing.  Perhaps that is a fairer point to make, but it does apply to most batsmen much of the time, it is often a matter of degree. The intent though, and the sheer confidence behind it, were welcome.

Bairstow and Root performed their supporting roles well, while Jos Buttler, promoted up the order, was as explosive as ever.  One particular shot, his weight entirely on the back foot, was utterly outrageous – a straight hit out of the ground and into the river Taff.  The joy of watching a special talent in any sport is not so much in seeing exceptional competence, it is in watching someone do something that leaves the observer scratching his or head and wondering how the hell he’s done it.  Such players are rare and precious.

Of more concern was Buttler’s clear discomfort during his innings, and while his practising his wicketkeeping in the interval to see how fit he was to do so was reassuring, it was surely sensible for him to have the second half off and let Bairstow take the gloves.  England are a strong side, and not reliant on one player, but Buttler adds an X Factor that cannot be replaced.  The England medical team will doubtless play down any worries, but as was once said in a different context, there is a massive trust issue there.

After a slight collapse around the 340 mark (it remains ludicrous such numbers are regular landmarks in an England side) the innings was finished off in some style by Liam Plunkett, whose late innings hitting has been a precious resource for England on a fair few occasions.

387 was always likely to be beyond Bangladesh, and so it proved.  Jofra Archer produced a peach to dismiss Soumya Sarkar, the ball flying off the top off of stump and over the boundary without bouncing.  Incidentally, it’s worth noting that those who deride critics of the game being behind a paywall often pipe up that clips on social media are an adequate substitute in the modern world.  The clip of that happening did indeed get lots of attention in a tweet:

Note that the upload of a few seconds of action has now been deleted by the rights holder, an act consistent with the ongoing removal of historical cricket content on Youtube, and the act of commercial entities and a cricket structure that has no idea how to market itself to a wide audience.  Football might do the same thing to some extent, but not to the extent cricket does.

Archer bowled swiftly, with serious threat and with intelligence as well.  Whatever the comment around his qualification for England, he has added a significant new dimension to this side.

Bangladesh didn’t wilt, the increasingly impressive Shakib scoring a fine century, but the ever rising required run rate meant that the outcome of the game was in little doubt.  Woakes was a bit expensive, but Archer and Stokes in particular looked dangerous.  England are back on track, and have nearly a week off before facing a highly dangerous West Indies team.

But so far, overall, not too bad.

Advertisements

World Cup Matches 12 & 13: England v Bangladesh, New Zealand v Afghanistan

Assuming that the weather doesn’t intervene, England have the chance to show that the defeat to Pakistan was nothing more than a blip. There’s a bit of World Cup history, for Bangladesh have defeated England in the last two competitions, and of course knocked them out last time, as skipper Mashrafe Mortaza was quick to point out. It may be a much different England team, but Bangladesh have improved too, their victory over South Africa was a mere mild turn up, not the major surprise some pretended it was.

Still, a team with pretensions of winning the World Cup really ought to win and win comfortably, defeat today would be something of a crisis.

In the later game, New Zealand are of course strong favourites, and have been quietly and impressively going about their business. At this World Cup there are more dark horses than at a point to point meeting, suffice it to say that they look dangerous enough to anyone. Afghanistan’s achievement is their continual and rapid improvement. It’s not patronising to regard them with astonishment and awe, but this looks a tough day in prospect for them.

Comments below, and we’ll do a proper review on the England game later.

World Cup Match 11 – Pakistan vs Sri Lanka

The weather forecast is grim. Truly grim. The chances of any kind of game today look minimal, with a sheet of rain across the south, and a venue that tends to be wet even when the rest of the country is dry.

It’s inevitable of course, and will cause some of the usual suspects to recoil in horror that there is such a thing as rain, but it probably doesn’t do too much harm to either side in the scheme of things given the format.

Yesterday’s game between Australia and the West Indies represented something of a triumph for the Aussies who recovered from 38-4, and indicated that they really are a threat to anyone this time around, without being quite convincing. It was the umpiring that caused the most discussion, Chris Gayle being given out wrongly twice, before a third slightly marginal lbw that should have been a free hit given the huge missed no ball the ball before.

It was poor, but umpires have bad games too, and the West Indies only got into the World Cup on the back of an umpiring error in the first place. Still, there will be two officials who will be unhappy with their own performances alright, even if blaming the umpires is an age old tactic.

Comments on the rain below.

World Cup Match 10: Australia vs West Indies

Perhaps the trick to make a World Cup interesting is to add a pinch of Bangladesh – two games so far, a win and a defeat, and both eminently watchable. This is, of course, the nation that booted England out of the 2015 World Cup so unceremoniously and spectacularly.

Yesterday’s match against New Zealand was one of those where every time you felt the Kiwis had got control, they lost a wicket, often through that particular joy of cricket, the ridiculously daft shot out of nowhere. There were a fair few of those on display in the first game too, though Bumrah’s opening spell will deservedly get most of the headlines for that one. India looked decent enough elsewhere, as far as can be determined from a single game.

South Africa on the other hand have one foot already on the aircraft home – three defeats out of three doesn’t put them out of the tournament, quite, but it does leave them needing to win at least five of their remaining six games to have any realistic kind of chance. Given the entire format of the World Cup is to maintain it for as long as possible, this might well be the earliest a team has managed to get themselves on the brink of elimination in decades. In their favour, it can be pointed out that they have played England and India, rankings wise the two best sides in the world, and perhaps teams the Proteas might be expected to lose to. But then they lost to Bangladesh as well, have batted badly, bowled worse and caught abysmally. The loss of Dale Steyn is a blow to the tournament, and to cricket fans everywhere, but South Africa’s problems are deeper.

Today’s game is Australia vs West Indies, and one that might just be an intriguing one. Australia with their returning bad boys look a vastly stronger outfit, while the West Indies have arguably the most potent pace attack in the competition, and the possibility of a Chris Gayle Day leaves every opponent slightly nervous.

Is it too much to hope from this World Cup a tournament where everyone beats everyone else? Perhaps. And perhaps in the long term such a hope would be the most damaging, as it would re-inforce the ICC’s claimed motivation for making it a 10 team World Cup. That’s the trouble with cricket these days – wanting good cricket has to be with an eye kept on how the bastards will use it.

Comments as ever below!

World Cup Matches 8 and 9 – India v South Africa & Bangladesh v New Zealand

So enter the giants. Bring on the gladiators. Bow down to the titans. India belatedly join the “party that is gripping a nation”, and in front of them is a team that if it loses, might as well ensure they are on that flight to Johannesburg prior to July 14. The stakes are high.

You’ll be thankful that this isn’t a 1000 word epic. There are two games scheduled for 5th of June, and India are on first in Southampton. Highly favoured, they won’t be overly concerned that they have had to wait, or really what they’ve seen from their opponents. Their’s will be a more intense campaign, but not that much. A tournament where there is still four weeks of the qualifying competition to run allows such indulgences like waiting a week to start!

The second game puts together two unbeaten teams up against each other. Bangladesh return to the scene of their triumph on Sunday with a hope to repeat the formula. New Zealand blew Sri Lanka away on a lovely green surface in Cardiff and look a formidable unit. While you have to favour the Black Caps, Bangladesh aren’t to be taken for granted. One of my favourite cricketers, Mushfiqur Rahim, is always a key man for the Tigers, and his lovely knock on Sunday got a little overshadowed by Shakib, but was utterly valuable (going to a country like Bangladesh makes me want them to do well. I loved my time there). By all reports their fans were brilliant on Sunday and brought a great sense of occasion to the match. Good on them.

The match between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan was the first one that was weather affected, and yet there was still a pretty gripping contest (due to disruption in London, I had to work from home, but I’m not going to watch cricket, sadly, if I have to work – honestly). Sri Lanka got off to a great start, collapsed in a heap, eked out something competitive, and then Afghanistan got off to a half decent start, collapsed in a heap, rebuilt a little, but then fell short. The bowling attack may sneak them a game during the tournament, but the batting looked a little short for Afghanistan today. They are by no means outclassed. I am watching the highlights and what a really good comms team they had on today. Doull, Smith, Mitchell, Sanga and even Pommie was OK today too. Nothing pants on fire enthusiasm, no screaming and hollering, just adult commentators treating their audience as adults. It will never catch on.

As we have seven games under our belt we have two hundreds. One suspects India might add to that total today. Let’s see if they are for real. South Africa are in turmoil, and it will be a huge upset if they win. It is especially sad, though sadly not unexpected, to see Dale Steyn won’t be playing a part. I saw him in his first series back in 2004/5, and he had an action and pace to die for. He’s been an amazing player, but time stands still for no-one, not even a warrior like Dale Steyn. It’s terribly disappointing.

Comments below.

World Cup Match 7: Afghanistan v Sri Lanka

Today sees the game which might, just might, sort out who finishes 10th in the competition. Yes, it’s a bit early to say that, but given their performances on Saturday, worthy though Afghanistan’s was, there is a sense that neither of these two teams will be in the shake up when the group phase ends in about a month or two’s time. The game is being played at Cardiff, and the rain radar looks less than great, so it may be that this is all for nought in anyway. Let’s hope not. Afghanistan look a particularly intriguing team, and in many ways are the poster child for all those, very vociferous, advocates of a larger World Cup (in terms of participants, not games).

Comments, as always, below.

As for yesterday’s events in Nottingham, it was always going to be interesting to see how England fans and media (and soon to see also how the players) would react to the first reverse. It was always going to happen, but maybe it was envisaged that it wouldn’t be this early in the competition, and that the early loss, if there was to be one, would be against South Africa (who may also be scrapping for 10th place if their form is maintained!). The immediate response, judging by Sky and some of Twitter, is that this was a freakishly bad fielding performance, that England will need to improve, but we really are very good at this format and so no worries fellow travelers.

As Lee Corsey on College Game Day (obscure US reference) would say “Not so fast”. Now I know a fellow writer is more sanguine about the loss, but I didn’t get to this point in my blogging life without knowingly under-reacting, and in truth I genuinely don’t think I am. I think the ability of this England team is under question because it has not won the massive game. That’s because they have, really, only had one, which was a semi-final against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy. I might let you have Australia in the opening game of that tournament, if Australia were ever that bothered about the Champions Trophy, which they hadn’t been much previously. I thought, last night, about England football team’s qualifying performance in the lead up the 2010 World Cup, and how we won 4-1 and 5-1 against Croatia, and dropped points in a game that really didn’t matter because we’s already qualified. We then made a horlicks of the main tournament.

It’s always a bit arrogant to say England try their hardest in routine ODIs, and other teams don’t really care that much, but maybe there is a small case to say this is true here. After all, the pressure was put on in 2015 when Andrew Strauss said we would focus more on white ball cricket, and that has certainly been the case – other nations don’t make it so blindingly obvious. The media have, by and large, got on board with this, and perhaps explaining away or excusing some issues with the test team as if there is a trade off for the white ball team’s success. And it has been successful. England have been an entertaining batting side to watch, while the bowling leaves a little to be desired. Indeed, if ever the team plays to a less than full audience on these shores, some of the key media figures exhort the host to lose fixtures because they won’t pay exorbitant prices to watch “the greatest England ODI team ever” (a title I will not anoint them to until they match what the 1992 team did).

There’s always a problem commenting on a game I haven’t watched. But I knew from the outset of the run chase that chasing 349 to win in a World Cup isn’t like chasing it down in the 3rd ODI of a tedious five match series where each squad is chopping and changing its players. The jeopardy of defeat is much, much higher. If you are thinking you can lose just three games to be certain to qualify, England will need to beat two out of India, Australia, New Zealand, and I am going to throw our kryptonite, West Indies, into that mix. And that’s taking for granted Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, which may be foolish. This isn’t a bump in the road, but a clear warning sign. England played tightly against South Africa, but had enough to beat them. They got lured into a pace attack and bouncer strategy by Pakistan’s atrocious first game. By the time the messages appeared to get through, Pakistan were off to a decent start, and 348 was possibly reining them in a bit. There’s a lot of positives taken from Root and Buttler making hundreds, but the supporting cast did not step up and that’s a concern. Given the nature of pitches and boundaries, this won’t be the last time we could be chasing 350. It’s not easy, and perhaps the sin of this team is that they’ve made it look like it during the cricket equivalent of the “qualifying campaign”.

Pakistan are a walking cliche for unpredictability, and so losing 11 in a row and then beating the “World Champion Elect” seems like a Ruiz felling Joshua. But it really shouldn’t be. They have talented batting, and the bowling can never be taken for granted. Sometimes they lose their minds, sometimes they put it together. It makes them eminently watchable, and a dangerous foe. For all the beatings England have administered to them in bilateral series, they’ve now played them, as New White Ball England, twice in major competitions and lost. It’s when the game is played that really matters.

So yes, I am concerned for England. Contrary to the views of people who hate this format, this loss does matter. With ten teams, a 5-4 win loss record could be recorded by the 5th and 6th place teams if one or two of the countries fail to raise themselves if they know elimination is certain. England have Bangladesh up next, on Saturday at Cardiff, and then face the West Indies the following Friday in Southampton. We will have a feel for how the qualification is going by then, and if England sit at 2-2 in the win-loss column (and let’s definitely not take Bangladesh for granted) then the alarm bells will be ringing.

One last note. I have to say it. While I’ve made most of my peace with England’s cricket team (as if they give a stuff), the whole long-term problem with what happened in 2014, and what Harrison is doing now, is that these defeats don’t sting like they used to. An England football defeat stings much more, especially under this Southgate team. This doesn’t. They seem decent players, hell, I like quite a few of them. But it doesn’t matter that much to me. We had a word with a media guy a few months ago who thought that if England got on a roll, the country would go mad for this tournament. I said that how could they? They won’t be able to watch it if they don’t have Sky. And some cricket fans like me are so cheesed off with the suits who pick the boots, that we’ll see any victory marred by the ECB patting themselves on the back for coming to the conclusion that the 2015 World Cup was a bit embarrassing. Because we know that this would give Citizen Kane Harrison even more fuel for his ego-driven campaign to destroy English domestic cricket as it exists now. (Oh yes, we saw the Standard article, where Harrison is bathing in overwhelming support none of us have noticed). So while Buttler makes hundreds, Joe Root plays the anchor as the others hit around him (a run a ball hundred is an anchor role these days), and the entertainment is there, the suits have ruined it.

Actually, while I am here, I have one last note. Notice how Australia have seamlessly assimilated Smith and Warner back into the fold, with the media it appears massively behind them, despite them “shaming the nation” and in the case of Warner, reports that he’d been “ostracised” and “made to dine alone by the team” and being the outcast blamed for the sandpaper incident. Notice how prime outlets like ABC are confident enough to have articles using these two to have a pop at England fans for understandable wind-ups (and calling England fans boorish). Notice how the “abuse” is seen as a positive for Warner, that it will make him play better. Notice that picture of Warner taking selfies with Aussie fans? I have. Perhaps our suits, perhaps our hierarchy should stop babbling on about culture and trust, and pick our best players on every occasions. It seems other nations just try harder and don’t hang themselves on managerial and coaching gods, but on players. Who play. And yes, I am talking about Pietersen. Of course I am.

OK, enough from me. Comments below on today’s action…..

England vs Pakistan: World Cup Match 6

At the fifth time of asking, we finally got a good game in the shape of Bangladesh versus South Africa.  It’s been an interesting response to it from some quarters, Bangladesh’s victory treated as a major shock, which it surely isn’t.  A small surprise perhaps, and maybe a hangover from the view of Bangladesh from years past.  They’re a reasonable enough side, and more recent quarter finalists than England for a start.  But it was an entertaining, enjoyable game throughout, and one that the tournament needed.  South Africa were rather poor, and are now in a bit of trouble.

England and Pakistan start their second round of matches with India still yet to play, having apparently negotiated a three week gap between the end of the IPL and the start of their World Cup campaign.  It’s a remarkable thing that the World Cup can be manipulated according to the needs of another tournament and constituent country, and while in itself it doesn’t overly matter, it’s indicative of the weight of power that can be brought to bear.  Equally, India have five matches at the weekend to England’s two, which makes no sense whatever in terms of promoting the competition in the host country, but perfect sense financially and in terms of the TV audience.  Strictly speaking, in purely ticket selling terms, it is logical (if counter-intuitive) to have the less attractive games at the weekend, given England matches will likely sell out whenever they’re being played, and others might not.  But it isn’t how it would be done if thinking from a promotional or public relations perspective, to generate momentum within a tournament location.  As ever, there’s the choice between imagining this things happen by accident, or being deliberately planned.  Given how India and Pakistan amazingly always manage to draw each other even if there are groups, there can’t be many who think it’s the former.

As for today’s game, England’s domination over Pakistan in the warm up series (“It’s not a warm-up game. It’s a bona fide series between England and Pakistan in the lead up to the Cricket World Cup” – Tom Harrison) means that sod’s law suggests this is the one that England will stuff up, naturally.  But Pakistan opening game was not remotely reminiscent of the weaker, but competitive side that managed to score heavy runs against England only to have to concede to a stronger batting line up, it was one that was timid and fell apart in the face of hostile West Indies bowling (1983 says hello).  Assuming England play Jofra Archer, and maybe even Mark Wood having seen the West Indies game, it can surely be imagined that they’ll be facing more of the same today.

For England, it’s all pretty serene.  A second win today, and they’re well on their way to the semi-finals.

Comments below!

World Cup Match 5 – South Africa vs Bangladesh

Much has been said and written about the start of this World Cup and the one sided games thus far. It’s certainly true that the only one with any real degree of doubt at the half way stage was the opener between. England and South Africa, and that uncertainty didn’t last overly long.

Yesterday Sri Lanka were demolished by New Zealand, while Australia comfortably overcame a spirited Afghanistan side. But we’re still waiting for a close game. This is sport, it happens, but it is relevant to highlight this when referring back to Dave Richardson using the argument of more competitive games as an excuse for booting out the Associates:

“Every match should be very competitive, and having 10 teams at the 2019 World Cup will ensure that’s the case”

He deserves all the stick he gets for the breathtaking stupidity of that remark, and to be reminded of it constantly. One sided matches happen, they always have and always will, but when used as a reason to turn the World Cup into a private club, opprobrium ought to follow.

And so today we have South Africa playing their second match, with India not scheduled to begin their World Cup until Wednesday, thanks to their insistence on a break from the IPL. Maybe today will be the tight, tense game we’ve been waiting for. Maybe.

Comments below as ever.

Day 3 – New Zealand v Sri Lanka & Afghanistan v Australia

It’s quite strange when you think about it. By the end of today eight teams would have commenced their World Cup campaign. Tomorrow the ninth does. India do not start until Wednesday. Why is that?

I have to say that there is a sneaking suspicion that Occam’s razor applies here. Because I am beginning to get a little fed up that any one-sided fixture in this competition is greeted with the usual tweets by those who wish to see more countries at this competition. Point the ire at sport, across the world’s, relationship with television. For the sake of TV entertainment, and therefore the vast revenues, games are rescheduled, tournaments are “seeded”, certain teams are kept apart, certain teams have to play each other, and it is you, the public’s, fault for wanting more sport, more live sport, when it is more commercially convenient for you to watch it. India have the most clout, there’s no surprise in that, no controversy, and for that reason a repeat of 2007 must never happen again. It simply can’t. So I suppose TV is behind India not starting until Wednesday. So those bemoaning the format, bemoaning the one-sided game that is always possible, those bemoaning the contraction of the game, point the ire at the authorities who need India TV money to make money. They want more India matches. It’s commercial reality. Sport be damned.

So to today, and the second of the qualifiers, because it is easy to forget that West Indies had to, makes their first appearance with a tough opener against Australia. While the Aussies have been wearing hair shirts for the last year, it has been easy to take their poor form, until recently, as an indicator that they may not be the force they were. The abrasive Warner, and the rough Steve Smith join the team, and they look stronger. The bowling looks dangerous, the warm-up win has given them a bit of swagger, and there’s a not so quiet confidence coming from the Australians. I have called them the cockroaches quite a few time – you might think you’ve killed them off, that the pest has been removed, but they always bloody come back (there’s a life experience from my early years in a tower block). It’s what makes them such great pantomime villains in our rivalry. Pundits sit back, laugh at their misfortune, and even, as in 2013, wondered why he had to just get out of second gear to win. Then the little rascals kick our arses. Then come back and kick it some more. They’ll be there in the shake-up. Trust me.

This game is taking place in Bristol. The weather is set fair in England (and Wales) for today, so we could have some runs, especially if Australia bat first. I do wonder if this is as one-sided as I fear it might be, whether the same tweeters moaning about yesterday’s game will be so vociferous.

(Look, I like this World Cup format. Sorry to disappoint anyone. I would, as in any sporting endeavour, like to see all countries have to qualify for the tournament (maybe not the holders and hosts) but I’m living in a dreamworld if I believe anyone would allow the Big 3 to be up for elimination)

The first game today, from Cardiff, is New Zealand v Sri Lanka. I’m hoping for a good day for my work colleague, Simon, who is travelling down there this morning. New Zealand got a bit of a pasting in a warm up game, at the hands of the West Indies, and that might have knocked confidence, but this is a dangerous team, capable of beating anyone and should not be underestimated. Sri Lanka have been largely discounted as contenders, and the team lacks star quality, but until we see them play, there’s always the element of mystery.

I didn’t get to see yesterday’s nonsense from Trent Bridge. I would point out that on the Cricket Debate on Thursday night, when they weren’t talking about greatest ever catches (Bob Willis was having none of that nonsense), Charles Colvile actually mentioned that 500 was possible. Well that lasted well (honestly, we worry that these guys know more than you and I?) as Pakistan subsided to 105, and the West Indies knocked them off in five minutes. I think the West Indies are a sneaky decent team and they can often be kryptonite to England, while Pakistan are a walking cliche (and twitter loves a cliche).

So the World Cup is now up and running, and it’s a game a day for the next month. We’ll endeavour to keep up, and hope you stick with us for the entire competition. The event has certainly stirred up emotions behind the scenes, the media is in overdrive, everyone has an opinion, and people are talking about the sport, even if it is still a limited number. But it feels like there’s an event going on, and that has to be good.

Any comments on today, feel free to let them go. Also we are on Twitter – @OutsideCricket – where we promise not to be as up our own rear ends as others! Well, we don’t think we are.

Have a good day. With the Champions League Final and the Derby, there’s a lot on. (Not quite 14th July – World Cup Final, Wimbledon Mens Final and British Grand Prix). If you get the chance, enjoy them all as much as you can. If you want.

West Indies v Pakistan – World Cup Match Two Open Thread

England’s rather impressive opening day win over South Africa has the tournament up and running, and for the sake of the competition, Ben Stokes’ extraordinary catch has created a moment that can be played across the news broadcasters. It’s a small thing, and pales in comparison to the obvious equivalent had the wider public seen it as it happened. But to have such a moment on day one can’t but help. A bit.

The second match on the schedule is the one at Trent Bridge between the West Indies and Pakistan. Pakistan come into the game on a superb losing streak which has now extended to their last 10 completed official matches. Yet in many quarters they are still deemed favourites for this one. The West Indies racked up 421 against New Zealand and their batting potency makes them both unpredictable and exciting. In essence, this is one where really anything could happen. That’s a good thing, right?

Feel free to join the conversation below!