Honestly, Michael

Just read the piece on Cricinfo about Michael Vaughan implying that the Fredalo incident ruined England’s chances at the World Cup and it got me thinking. There has been plenty written in the last few months that Vaughan should not be skipper; his ego hurts the team; he’s not worth his place etc etc. While his classy hundred against the Windies at Headingley may have bought a little respite from the nay-sayers, it wouldn’t take much for them to get tetchy again.

What this article tells me is that he is still the right man for the job. Vaughan is basically saying that Fred was a bloody idiot and messed it up for everyone by attracting every tabloid paper to the hotel lobby. Fair enough, he did. He also went on to criticise himself and admit that his ODI record sucks. It does. But given how guarded interviews tend to be nowadays until the sportsman has retired, this was pretty candid. A new skipper might not have been so forthright, but Vaughan is about the only one who can say boo to a goose like Freddy or his buddy Harmy for that matter. And we need those two loons back to full throttle if we’re going to threaten the Aussies next time round. Which, if I’m really really honest with myself, is all that matters in the longterm. Vaughan, 32, is still the man to do that.

As for ODIs, I would let him continue as skipper. I’ll admit I am a big fan of his (the Michael Vaughan extra cover drive marks the start of my summer), so this is subjective as ever, but given nobody else is nailing down a place in the top three, what harm is he doing….?

Cricket videos on Youtube

As has been well discussed, Youtube is the tardis of online video, and there is an awful lot of tripe there as a result. But in between the mundane crap there are some priceless and rare gems, and one particular user was a guaranteed supplier of the better material. Cougarcricket was his name. He is now in the past, either missing in action or dead. Or, more likely, banned by Percy and pals in their blind and insatiable corporate greed to run the planet their own way. Soon, we’ll all have golf courses under the sea (or whatever Ian Chappell’s recent brilliant quote was). What the ICC have failed to realise is the internet is not a Zimbabwe, or any other cricket board; with it being essentially an ungovernable medium, people are continuing to upload whatever they like, as they should do.

So we need a replacement to Mr Cougar, and / or a list of the latest and greatest cricket clips. Your nominations, please.

Photos of Australia’s World Cup parade in Sydney

If you can stomach it, Matt Sterne has taken some photos of the Australian winners in Sydney.

Over and out

The final live was every bit as loony as it must have appeared on telly, but it was still a cracking day out. Indeed, given we were staring at rain covers for the first couple of hours, any action was good action. Gilchrist’s innings was worth the entry fee alone. I also loved the partnership between Jayasuriya and Sangakkara. But no team, however plucky, could have maintained 8 an over against those bowlers in that light.

The ICC has yet again proved itself to be an ass, but it may have dodged a bullet on Saturday. It was lucky that Ponting won the toss and batted first. Had Sri Lanka posted, say, 230 runs for the Aussies to chase in the half-light, it would have been a tall order, even for them. If it had been the Lankans dragging their heels between deliveries to waste time and Malinga bowling 85 mph in the gloomy drizzle, it could have kicked off some ugly scenes in the crowd. Would Australia have accepted being dealt such a poor hand as graciously as Sri Lanka?

OK, so I’m stirring. The right team won and it would have been a travesty if Ponting’s men had been robbed by weather conditions. As my cabbie said the night before, “if you’re the best team, you’re the best team, and you deserve to win”. I’ll admit too that the Aussie supporters were excellent in our stand. Save, of course, for the shouts of ‘no-ball’ whenever Murali bowled – can you not just let it go?!

There is the temptation to dismiss the Aussie players as charmless automatons who grind out results, but that is a disservice. They have flair, instinct, guile and panache by the bucket load. The players’ celebrations at Gilchrist’s hundred and the ultimate victory (both times) were genuinely endearing. There is no arrogance, just well-earned confidence. It matters more to these Australians and so they deserve the glory. Thank goodness they can’t play forever.

Ian Valetine is a freelance journalist blogging who has blogged the World Cup for The Corridor

That was the World Cup that wasn’t

You can come out now, it’s safe. The interminable has finally been put back into hybernation for another blissful four years, while the ICC scratch their chins and wonder how they can make it even worse. They really will struggle to produce anything quite so flawed and farcical as the 2007 World Cup which has been strung out over the past 47 days, like a terminal patient on a life support machine.

I’m so glad it ended as it did, too. There was a hope (or fear, depending on the levels of cynicism germinating inside you) that the final would sweep all the controversy of the tournament under one, big, happy carpet. But it didn’t. It ended in complete, incomparable farce. No one person was at fault for the last rites, when Australia’s celebrations were cut short – forcing them back into the dark of night to bowl another few overs. True, Aleem Dar ought not to have officiated in such a rigid manner and shown some semblance of logic – Sri Lanka were not going to win the game. Everyone knew that. But that is Dar’s way, and it is uncomfortable criticising umpires’ roles. They have a thankless task at the best of times and are first in the firing line.

Who’s fault was it, then? Anyone watching from afar – even if knowledgeable of cricket eccentricities – would have found it quite astonishingly bizarre that a side could be allowed off for bad light, seemingly handing the win to the opposition, only for both sides to be forced back onto the field. In pitch blackness. Cricket simply does not help itself half the time. Today should have showcased the best players in the world, demonstrating what a remarkable sport cricket is. Instead, the sport was reduced to an embarrassing pantomime.

Was the Cup doomed from the start? Is it the flawed idea of cricket having a World Cup, full stop? After all, one-day cricket remains the cheap, frilly cousin of Tests, so how can it be described by some as the sport’s greatest event? It palpably is not. It is a frenetic exercise to embezzle as much money into the pockets of the ICC and the organisers as is feasibly possible, at the expense of everyone – especially the developing countries and the locals hosting the tournament.

Call me cynical, and you will, but covering a tournament so closely has inevitable consequences. Australia are the best one-day side in the world, and probably the best in history too. But we have learned little else from this drab event other than the ICC are even more greedy than we first suspected, and Australia’s opponents – Sri Lanka apart – aren’t even close to chasing their coat tails.

World Cup final: Australia v Sri Lanka

The interminable 2007 tournament is finally drawing to a close, but before we tear the ICC apart for organising such a ridiculously long event, Australia take on Sri Lanka in the final. Both teams are deserved finalists.

I’m rooting for Sri Lanka. The teams are pretty well matched but I just hope Sri Lanka can apply some of their own bulldozering techniques and not let Australia gain an early upper hand. Get that Matthew Hayden early, too.

Anyway, keep an eye on the scorecard and leave your thoughts below.

Top dogs

Excitement now building for the final, especially as the best two teams have made it by playing attacking cricket. Here’s hoping they serve up a hum-dinger. Highlights for me have been watching live Ponting, Clarke, Watson, De Villiers and Jayawardene playing shots I can’t even play in my dreams. Messing about in the Caribbean on a 90 foot yacht has been pretty cool too.

Having done the Loser XI, here’s our A-team. There are a few that are unlucky to miss out, including Michael Clarke, Jacques Kallis, AB De Villiers, Daren Powell, Shane Bond, Mashrafe Mortaza and Paul Nixon, but I’m sure they’ll get over it.

1. Hayden 2. Jayasuriya 3. Ponting 4. Jayawardene 5. Pietersen 6. Styris 7. Boucher 8. Hogg 9. Malinga 10. Murali 11. McGrath

Sangakkara has a great chance of stealing the keeper’s berth tomorrow, especially after Boucher’s first baller yesterday, so everything to play for. The others pick themselves, no?

Ian Valentine is a freelance journalist blogging the World Cup for The Corridor

Thanks for coming

Gadzooks – yet another one sided match. And in a tourney of one sided matches, this was about the most imbalanced. “They’ll choke,” said the Aussies on the boat this morning after a choppy overnight crossing from Musquite, and choke they did. All the confidence the Boks showed in Barbados against the English had evaporated. What they could have given for the captain’s performance that Jayawardene provided yesterday!

And so on to Barbados for the final. All we want is a proper game of cricket. Can the plucky Sri Lankans test the Aussies? So far they have lost no more than six wickets and they’ve bowled out every opposition – it would be harsh if they are not recoronated world champions. But all the more delicious for all that! That said, it would be wonderful to see Adam Gilchrist score some runs in the final. So far he was scored two runs in the two innings I’ve seen.

Before we get stuck into a few sundowners on St Lucia, here’s a team we’ve put together entitled ‘Thanks for coming’. It’s a team that at the start of the tournament could have been the stars, but they have flattered to deceive. No doubt, we have missed out the odd loser or two.

1. Michael Vaughan 2. Chris Gayle 3. Sachin Tendulkar 4. Ross Taylor 5. Inzi 6. Michael Hussey 7. MS Dhoni 8. Shaun Pollock 9. Shahid Afridi 10. Saj Mahmood 11. Makhaya Ntini

Ian Valentine is a freelance journalist blogging the World Cup for The Corridor

Live chat: Australia v South Africa, 2nd semi-final, St Lucia

So much for essay writing, this is going to be far more interesting. The two, of course, haven’t played since the group stages, and Australia still haven’t lost a game. Will this be the one? South Africa have won the toss, and elected to bat.

Catch Will, and the scorecard, over here. In the meantime, chat away!

Live chat: New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 1st Semi-Final, Jamaica

So, after weeks of play, we’ve finally made it to the first semi-final back where Pakistan exited the competition in such spectacular fashion. We can only hope, after such a long wait, that both this match and that at the Beausejour Stadium tomorrow, offer good, tight contests.

But whatever happens, you can watch the scorecard and commentary at Cricinfo, and chat about it here.