Waiting for Tuesday

Morning. I’m writing this from the boat in Barbados just a few moments before the start of the Aussie-Sri Lanka contest, a possible dress rehearsal for the final.

Boats in Barbados

Word among the Australians here is that their team will carry on steam rolling the opposition, as long as Hayden and Gilchrist continue to boss the opening exchanges. There is also a train of thought though that a Sri Lankan win might be just what the Aussies need to guard against complacency, probably their greatest threat to another WC win. So, perversely perhaps, if the Aussies do win today, here’s hoping they win at a canter.

We arrived on Saturday to the good news that Craig McMillan’s all round heroics had sunk the South Africans. Just what was needed to make tomorrow’s clash a belter. Despite a string of average performances, I can’t see anything other than an England win and I’ll repeat my prediction of a Strauss ton. The locals are rooting for us too, as are the Aussies on the boat, albeit for different reasons. Out of the remaining teams in the tournament, the Boks are the only one who still give them the willies. This baggage dates back to the 438 run chase and an insecurity that no total is too big if Herschelle Gibbs is in the mood.

Finally, just a quick word on Barbados. It’s just beautiful. While the Windies have failed to deliver on the pitch, the benefits to the island are plain to see with widespread infrastructure development including new roads, houses and businesses. Whether this is true for the rest of the Caribbean, I can’t be sure, but even in the four years when I last visited Barbados, the improvements are all too obvious. I can also report that the medical services here are excellent after one of our party fell off the aft deck and sliced his finger by gripping too hard on his punch glass. No doubt a common injury in these parts. And apart from a close shave with a Japanese catamaran, it has been a case of lie back, relax and wait for Tuesday.

Ian Valentine is a freelance journalist, blogging his diary of the World Cup for The Corridor

Sri Lanka vs Australia, Super Eights, Grenada

Sri Lanka have a great chance to knock off the Australians because the Grenada pitch suits their game down to the ground. If they do that, the three semi-finallists so far will all have 10 points, and it will all come down to the England vs South Africa game. I don’t think anyone wants to face Australia in the semi-finals somehow.

Malinga is out for Sri Lanka and Watson is still missing for Australia.

Scorecard

Ireland beat Bangladesh

With all the moaning about how the 2007 World Cup is a bit of a farce, it has to be said that it’s greatest defenders are the actual players. There’s been some great cricket played, and not least by those of whom the least have been expected. Bangladesh have had some great moments but it was their turn to be the shock losers as Ireland dominated last night for another upset victory.

It is hard to remember now, but no one except Bob Simpson gave Sri Lanka much of a chance in 1996, Kenya surprised everyone by making the semi-finals in 2003 and in 2007 we’ve had the rise of Ireland and Bangladesh. The World Cup is becoming a platform for new nations to make their mark on the cricketing world.

And while the ICC gets a justified bucketing for its blunders, it must be given credit also for the way that it has given new nations the opportunity to show us what they have got. Hopefully, looking forward to the 2011 tournament, Ireland and Bangladesh will be able to consolidate their progress, and maybe a new nation will come on board and dazzle us from no-where.

Petition to enable ex-pats access to BBC overseas

Crafty Leak writes:

It is SHOCKING that the BBC (and I guess ABC in Australia) do not allow an “international” tournament (with half empty cricket grounds!) to be broadcast on-line “outside the UK”! Do they want to help cricket grow as a sport or not?

So what if you are a UK TV license fee payer who lives abroad? You pay for the BBC, then they deny you rights to their services because you are outside the UK – IT’S DAYLIGHT ROBBERY!

There is a campaign on the 10 Downing Street website to allow non-UK users access to BBC services:

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/BBC-4-Expats/

Check it out and SIGN it! All it involves is entering your passport number – simple really, as the technology is there!

Worth signing. I have friends overseas who are continually frustrated by the lack of access to TMS while still holding their UK passport. I don’t doubt it’s technically possible, but there is no doubt a whole mile-long length of red tape to go through first. So…sign up.

Atherton on England’s “blind faith”

Another supreme piece from Athers in today’s Sunday Telegraph:

England can beat South Africa and the West Indies, but it would be almost a miscarriage of justice if they found themselves in the semi-finals. And in terms of learning lessons for the future, it might not do English cricket much good at all to know that you can turn up relying on hope and blind faith and still go all the way

Read the full thing here.

ICC cops it again

The ICC cops another serve, this time from Ian Chappell. When everyone except people on your payroll are telling you that you are doing a lousy job, then you are doing a lousy job.

Speed is always at great pains to spread the gospel that cricket is in good shape. However, you start to wonder if working in Dubai, where a ski resort is plonked in the middle of the desert and a hotel built in the ocean, hasn’t affected his grip on reality.

As if the litany of disasters at the World Cup isn’t evidence enough of a game in need of a re-think, there have been numerous other warning signals in the lead up to the tournament.

In the recent past there was the appalling handling of Zimbabwe’s predicament, the first ever forfeit of a Test match and the two prestigious one-day tournaments have been played within six months of each other.

Then there is the preposterous dilution of standards that has occurred under this regime. To have a match anointed as “official” appears to require nothing more than an assurance there are more than eleven registered cricketers in both countries participating in the match. This has led to a plethora of one-sided matches in both forms of the game.

And we haven’t even mentioned corruption, which the England captain thinks is still prevalent in the game or the mind numbing mess that now constitutes the laws of cricket.

Thank goodness Ian Chappell never tells ME what sort of job I am doing!

Photos from MCC v Sussex, Lord’s

Some cracking photos from Peter Meade of MCC v Sussex.

Matthew Hoggard in typical unrestrained, relaxed, un-mediary pose:

Matthew Hoggard

Steve Harmison. Pensive as ever.

Steve Harmison

And finally…

Friends Provident

It all comes down to Tuesday

So New Zealand are through to the semi-finals. Rajesh has written a really useful piece on who might take the final semi-final spot, and how England’s win (or loss) impacts on the other contenders.

Scenario 1: England beat South Africa

England will then be level with South Africa on six points, and will have an excellent opportunity to seal their semi-final spot with a win against West Indies. South Africa will finish their Super Eight campaign on six points, and will sweat on the results of the other games to keep them in the hunt: for them to go through, West Indies will have to beat England, which will then leave three teams – South Africa, England, and West Indies or Bangladesh – on six points. Net run rates will then come into play, which is again bad news for South Africa – they are currently languishing at -0.21, and a defeat against England won’t help their cause much. Graeme Smith might just regret the fact that he bowled five overs for 56 against West Indies, allowing them to come within 67 runs of their 356.

England going past South Africa will also suit West Indies and Bangladesh perfectly. Brian Lara and Habibul Bashar have been talking about their World Cups being over already, but they just might have rushed it a bit. If England’s victory margin against South Africa is a narrow one, and if West Indies thrash Bangladesh and England (it might look unlikely at the moment, but nothing’s beyond a team which has Chris Gayle and Lara in their batting line-up), their NRR might just sneak up beyond that of England and South Africa. Ditto for Bangladesh, if they beat Ireland and West Indies.

Scenario 2: South Africa beat England

Realistically, that’s South Africa’s only chance of making it to the last four. A South African win will also shut out England, West Indies and Bangladesh, making two of the last four matches – West Indies versus Bangladesh and West Indies versus England – completely redundant. Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa will then be the four semi-finalists, with the rest of the matches only deciding the positions within the top four.

Tuesday, as Rajesh puts it, really will be a cracker.

New Zealand v South Africa, Super Eights, Grenada

Something’s wrong in the universe when Craig McMillan can take three South African wickets. I’m not watching it, and have only just switched on the radio – ensconced in Devon and magnetised to the beach and the outdoors. But it’s clouded over with a sea fog here and it’s high time for a drink and to keep my eye on this match. South Africa are wobbling, to say the least. Incidentally my hosters were switching things today and apparently the site was buggered earlier. Apologies for that. All seems fine again now – if painfully slow.

Anyhoo, here’s a photo

Minehead

And here’s the scorecard.

The start of the English season

The English season finally got underway today, even though I still feel as though it’s the middle of winter, what with this blasted World Cup dragging on for an eternity. Here’s a pic from today’s opener, MCC v Sussex, from Martin Williamson – my boss and fellow Cricinfo winner and photo phanatic.

Lord's scoreboard

Spot the mistake. Pleasingly, despite today’s unseasonal sunny cheer, the day ended in true early-season style: bad light stopped play.