Wherefore art thou, Pakistan?

In the last couple of days we’ve travelled west to Grenada, where we watched a second one-sided match in as many days. Indeed, we made it to the lovely ground here with Ireland languishing on 60 odd for 9. About an hour and ten overs later it was all over, with Mahela Jayawardene playing some memorable shots.

While the Irish have done themselves proud in this tournament, it was a shame for the organizers here that the match was never likely to be a contest. What a difference it would have made if the Pakistanis had got their act together so many weeks ago. At lunchtime, when the match had long finished, there was a heart rending scene as local boys and girls performed a well choreographed dance to highlight AIDS awareness to empty stands. It should have been appreciated by thousands of fans waiting for a tense run chase between fierce rivals. The Grenadians had done all they could to stage a party, but the guests of honour hadn’t shown.

Talking of no-shows, I couldn’t have been more wrong about England. Strauss didn’t get his ton, the Boks didn’t choke and we hardly raised a whimper in the whole tournament. Again, what should have been a marvellous sporting occasion was a total anti-climax. The Baijans, likewise, could not have done more. A friend on the boat Richard Butler was beside himself with frustration. “What is most galling,” he said, “is that England have not played any attacking cricket. They have died wondering.” To see AB de Villiers, Graeme Smith, Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya giving it a lash has shown what can be done.

With luck, tomorrow’s game will be 100 overs long! No predictions this time. Just a full game will do me fine.

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

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

Pakistan tour diary

Much as Gideon Haigh’s Ashes diary was such a success in the summer for Cricinfo, Andrew Miller is doing the same and it promises to be equally as entertaining, or perhaps more so considering I know and work with him at Cricinfo Towers. It’ll be linked to on the homepage at Cricinfo, midway down under Regulars. His latest entry is here, which includes this gem:

On neither occasion, however, was there the slightest altercation between the concerned parties. It struck me that road rage is a curiously Anglo-Saxon phenomenon, borne of an over-reliance on rules and an unwillingness to accept responsibility for your actions. Here, you embark on a journey on a wing and a prayer, and keep your wits about you, lest others whip them away for you. As my airline pilot might have put it: “In’shallah”.

I’ve yet to go to Pakistan or India – I’m absolutely dying to go – so do keep your eye on his diary over the next few weeks for some..interesting insights among other stuff.

Daryl Harper’s thoughts on England and Bangladesh

Daryl has an online diary, as has been publicised here before, and has recently and belatedly posted his thoughts on the 2nd Test between England and Bangladesh. No other umpire, that I know of, is doing this – so it’s pretty exciting, and maybe newer/younger umpires might follow Daryl’s lead and even start blogging. That would be awesome. He also has some interesting photos.