All out for 18

Even before you finish reading the potted scoreline, when it begins with “Barbados 22 for 2 beat…” you know something extraordinary has happened. That Barbados beat West Indies Under-19s – who, as their title suggests, are far from experienced – might not strike you as being too surprising. But this motley bunch is the future of West Indies. Pedro Collins was bananaring it, but even so.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

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.

Should Duncan Fletcher resign?

Batten down the hatches, we’re in the eye of a storm here! It’s all going very wrong for England so, in the spirit of scapegoattery, let’s start picking them off. And what better way to start than with a poll? Leave a comment on whether you think Duncan Fletcher should stay or go, and cast your vote below

(If you’re reading by RSS, click here to vote at the site)

{democracy:27}

Disaster turns to farce

England’s disasterous preparations for the first Test is rapidly turning into a farce. First it was Michael Vaughan’s knee. Then Baroda-belly hit the spinners. Then Simon Jones had a wobbly stomach. Then Marcus Trescothick flew home. Now Simon Jones has recovered from his gut-ache and has twisted his knee. No, not his dodgy right knee (which he injured/snapped in Australia a few years ago) – his left knee! It’s all going horribly wrong.

The good news, though, is Andrew Flintoff has decided not to go home on or around the second Test, if / when his wife goes into labour for their second child. Flintoff is England’s captain for the remainder of the tour. (thoughts on this yesterday)

It’s almost funny…

Patron’s XI v England XI, Rawalpindi, 2nd day

Yesterday was bad enough, but today? Today is rather pathetic. England are 39 for 6. Nuff said.

Rameez Raja: ‘Cricket can be a healer’

England’s tour of Pakistan is to continue, despite this week’s disasterous events, according to ECB and PCB officials. More at Cricinfo, including this from Rameez Raja which I tend to agree with:

“Cricket is followed by everyone in Pakistan and it will get their minds off this tragedy,” Rameez Raja, a former chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board told the BBC. “Cricket can be a healer.”

Sri Lanka abandon their tour to New Zealand

Thankfully for the Sri Lankans, they’ve been “allowed” to abandon their tour of NZ as we would hope. Yesterday, it seemed there could have been financial ramifications (for cutting the tour short) but, so far, it seems the ICC and NZC are being reasonably sensitive and compassionate. What a disasterous start to the new year, for all Sri Lankans – my thoughts are with them all.