Friday, March 4, 2011

What a waste of time!

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One swallow does not make a summer. Barring one game where the Irish upset England spectacularly, the associates and minnows have been a perfect waste of time. Today's games were over even before I switched on my television set. Bangladesh, Canada, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ireland should play in the Deodhar trophy and not in a World Cup. In fact, I would shudder to even put them into Australia's or South Africa's domestic tournament. Kevin O'Brien, Shakib and other good players in these teams can display their wares in the IPL for spectators to relish.

The gulf between the teams is too wide. Teams like New Zealand, West Indies and Pakistan that were considered bottom feeders in the Test rankings due to various issues have shown that the worst of elite teams can smack down the best of minnows and associates with time to spare. A revival for these three teams is welcome news for cricket. I have always felt that a competitive West Indies and Pakistan team are a must for excitement in world cricket.

Anyone that feels that the associates should play in the World Cup based on one Irish performance should really go the grounds and watch Canada v Zimbabwe for $500. If the game lasts 100 overs and the teams manage to score more than 450 runs between them, then I'll be tempted to think again. Bangladesh came into the tournament full of hope and have been shown their place by both India and West Indies. You could forgive them for thinking that they did well against India by scoring 280+ runs. But folding for 58 against West Indies reveals their true colors.

New Zealand roared back into the tournament with a 10 wicket thrashing of Zimbabwe. It appears that John Wright's magic is beginning to work. The shot selection has dramatically improved. Bowlers discipline was fantastic. Guptill and McCullum finally came to the party and did justice to their immense talent.

On another note, this tournament was supposed to be a batsman's tournament. Afridi and Roach may beg to differ. It's been a treat watching Afridi finally flower into a consistent match winner. Pakistan's attitude and swagger versus Canada was a testament to their new found confidence. It remains to be seen how the Pakistan team play Australia. Win or lose, it'll be crucial for them to maintain their composure. If they fall apart in a losing cause, that'll be the signal that the revival is incomplete. Take a bow Waqar Younis and Shahid Afridi who have managed to unite a team of mercurials for a cause.

India, Australia and South Africa's games are spread too far apart to keep the average fan's interest a multi-nation tournament. Pakistan have filled the gaps with panache, but Sri Lanka and England have flattered to deceive thus far. England, despite their loss to Ireland, remain a contender. England may yet come alive, if their bowlers come to terms with sub-continental wickets. They should play Tremlett if they wish to be in with a prayer of a chance. My view is that Tremlett with his height can do better than Broad or Shahzad. If Australia manage to put it across Sri Lanka, which I guess they will, the latter will have a hard time coming back.

This is why I feel that playing the minnows and associates is really upseting the rhythm of what could have been a pulsating tournament. Sri Lanka are a strong team. They ran into an inspired Pakistan team and were defeated. Australia are quietly notching up victories without any hype, almost like England used to in the pre-1996 World Cups. But the real games are too few and far between.

1 comment:

Govind Raj said...

Agreed. Minnows should play the qualifiers in a larger format on 2 yearly exchange basis. The best two from the lower 14 or so should get to play in the Final round of World Cup. Even 10 is too much. 8 is optimum.