Live chat: England v South Africa, Super Eights, Barbados

I can’t believe it’s come to this. South Africa were the No. 1 ranked team in the world a fortnight ago, mixing brilliance and audacity with complacency and bottling. England really could make the last four, like it or lump it. Do they deserve to be there? Do they heck. But it would shake things up and give them genuine belief they can make the final.

With Pietersen facing the country of his birth, today’s match ought to be a real firecracker. Check the scorecard and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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

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.

South Africa smash and grab

Three days ago they were pedestrian, and that’s a compliment. Today South Africa were devastating, inflicting a forth successive loss and certain elimination to hosts West Indies (there’s actually still a mathematical chance). The sudden turnaround is sure to renew the hopes of the Proteas while West Indies’ imminent exit will surely empty a couple more seats for the remaining games. I’m suspicious that many weren’t watching anyway.

AB de Villiers smashed his maiden one-day century leaving the field with cramps, dehydration, heat exhaustion and some fond memories. Boucher bashed the third fastest fifty (at least this one came against respectable..er opposition) in World Cup history and Gibbs recovered from his calf strain to bash another fifty of his own. Even Kallis looked like a one-day player.

Thoughts? I’m not going to bed anytime soon. It’s still daylight here.

Scorecard here and Bulletin here.

Bangladesh sink sloppy South Africa

Get in there! The Deshis are doing it. Rumours of infighting in the South African squad (Kallis was threatened to be moved down the order. He wasn’t happy about it. So he went out there, trying to smash it around and was less than amused when he got out.)

This is just what this doomed tournament needs. Check the scorecard out and leave your thoughts.

Wake me up for the semi-finals!

Between being peeved, along the lines that Will has laid out below, and the sheer monotony, I have lost interest. Unless something amazing happens, I won’t be turning on the telly until Australia play England on Sunday night.

Well, tonight Ireland play South Africa, and if Ireland actually get close, you might want to comment here. Fulminate away.

Video highlights of Sri Lanka v South Africa

Video highlights of Malinga’s four-in-four and the most exciting match of this year’s World Cup to date. Eat that, ICC.

Click here if you can’t see it above.

Choking Boks battle past Slinger Malinga

Oh the Boks have done it again! 206 for 5 chasing 210…they’re currently 208 for 9! Malinga took four in four balls (spread over two overs) oh, bugger, South Africa have edged it. Robin Peterson has whalloped Malinga for four to win by a single wicket. What remarkable bottling boks they are. Battling boks, I suppose I should say…

Can’t remember who was on comms at the time, but they did a fine job at CI

48.2 Malinga to Peterson, FOUR, Peterson does it for SA with a edge past the slip. Fullish, outside off stump, Peterson drives, gets a outside edge and it runs down to third man boundary. SA have won. They choked at the end but have pulled it off. Peterson jumps in the air, pumps his fist and then smashes the stumps down at the other end. Immediately apologises!

Worth reading the commentary for the last five wickets. What a match.

Australia v South Africa, World Cup, St Kitts

A big game, this. Both are through to the Super Eights, but the winner takes forward two crucial points. And this is what Ponting reckons

“For us, this is as big a game as a semi-final or a final. The No.1 and No. 2-ranked teams going head-to-head in the World Cup. It doesn’t get much bigger. We’re very excited and we’ve been training very positively this week. Having the five or six days off between games has been a good thing for us. It’s allowed us to freshen up and work on our skills, and there’ll be no excuses on Sunday.”

Check the scorecard, leave a comment and generally make a nuisance of yourselves.