CWC has now got under way following Thursday's opening ceremony in Dhaka. The ceremony was graced by a little known Canadian cricketer called Bryan Adams. (FB will resist all obvious jokes, at least Canada qualified). A highlight of the proceedings was abseiling cricketers on a close-by tower block. FB has some sympathy with these players - he himself has played on some sloping wickets, but has never yet had to be tied on.
Dear reader(s) FB has to admit that he has yet to feel the thrill of this event running through his veins. His sinews are still unstiffened by the thought of all these matches stretching far into the days weeks and months before us. Could this be becasue the event is considerably weaker for the absence of Scotland who failed to qualify, their rightful place being taken by Canada. FB wishes good luck to Canada - let's hope they do some damage. It is always good to see the minnows upset the big boys, as Ireland did last time out and Netherlands did in the T20. It would be particularly good for an upset or two this time since the next CWC will be restricted to 10 teams. So much for developing the game.
kindly keep off the square...
FB's favourite World Cup moment - apart from Scotland's efforts - are still India's inspiring victory over the W Indies at Lords in 1983. A low scoring match but full of character, Kapil Dev's catch of the Master Blaster and all topped off by a world class pitch invasion.
At this point FB has to declare that he would dearly like England to win the trophy. They have been bridesmaid 3 times but never the bride. It's about time that was changed. But readers will understand that as a Scottish person the words England and World Cup do not lie easy on Fantasy Bob's tongue. For all Scottish people are required by law to repeat daily that England won the FIFA World Cup in 1966, and just in case we should be so remiss as to let it slip our mind, the BBC does regular catch up sessions led by John Inverdale and Gary Lineker. This allows all Scottish people to get the facts straight again in our haggis-softened brains. A recently added sub-clause (the Jonny Wilkinson clause) requires us to remember also that England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003. This law is less severe, forgetting is not a capital offence, and only applies in rugby world cup year -which 2011 is. But England has never won the Cricket World Cup. And from FB's serious study of the runes, despite the hope that built up at the end of last year, they seem unlikely to this time.
The contestants are divided into 2 groups of 7 which means that there will be lots and lots and lots of matches - 49 in all. Regretably for the next 4 weeks only a few of them will be of any consequence. India v England next Sunday will tell us something. WIndies v Bangladesh on 4 March may be the most significant and could have a big bearing on who goes into the quarter finals from that group. The structure of the competition seems designed to maximise the possibility of joint hosts India and Sri Lanka meeting in the final. Which may not be unreasonable since, when all things are said and done, they may well be the 2 best teams.
India showed their mettle by taking 360 off New Zealand in the warm up game. They have a batting line up to dream of and the most varied spin attack in the competition. An asset in the subcontinent. But the pressure of playing at home could be their undoing. No team has ever won this trophy at home.
Sri Lanka is still an ODI force to be reckoned with, although maybe not as explosive in their batting order as of old. But they have real match winners in Dilshan and Murali - and the added incentive of giving Murali a send off on his last appearances will be a big rallying call.
But Australia remain Fantasy Bob's tip. They showed the depth in their command of this form of the game by dumping England in the post Ashes pantomime. They are just tough in ODI - a quality that they lost in the Ashes. Their main weakness is in spin bowling since their attack is pace dominated. Ponting's captaincy will also be put under the microscope. But the big guessing point is how much they will be able to make up for the loss of Mike Hussey to injury. Overcome that and they can go all the way.
If the winner is not from among these three FB will be surprised. He disregards Saffy protestations that they are peaking; Pakistan are just unpredictable - but Afridi could easily turn out to be the player of the tournament. A huge and volatile asset; the Kiwis do not come into the tournament on the crest of form but should be good enough for a last 8 place.
It will be interesting to see if England have overcome their post-Ashes sag. Refreshed after their extended 3 day break at home, they absolutely walloped Canada by 16 runs. Pietersen opening looks a risk - if he fails, who pushes the score along before Prior comes in? Is Colly back? Morgan will be sorely missed after his extremely productive winter doing precisely nothing. But Prior at least is in his right place down the order. If England could bowl Swan 20 overs at each end they could get far, but there is a big ask of the other bowlers in non-English conditions. Broad got 5 Canucks, but 5 Aussies? A quarter final with Australia is expected and form - an indifferent guide of course - points only one way.
But don't go to the bookies on the strength of these views, FB thought Scotland were favourite to beat Wales on the rugby field last Saturday so, to put it politely, he is an indifferent forecaster.
FB will comment from time to time on the proceedings as they unfold.
|Champs last time - open wide|