Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Quarter Finals

Scotland v Ireland v Sri Lanka
Edinburgh July 2011
A welcome development
And so the CWC quarter finals get underway. 

Minnows are returned to their native waters with tales of might have been and nearly was, and amid widespread concern that the ICC have got it plain wrong seeking to exclude them from future competitions.  What incentive have they to improve?  How does cricket grow as a world game?  And how are the Test playing nations going to help them improve?  An essential part of any approach must be for there to be more regular minnow-test contests and not only at T20. There are lots of practical issues here - regrettably many of them come down to money.  FB welcomes warmly the few ODIs that Scotland has managed to play - this summer they will be host to Sri Lanka.  But these are tokens - a couple of such fixtures a year compares poorly with the huge number that the Test nations play.  Someone in Dubai needs to be thinking about how to close that gap.

Oops - Fantasy Bob didn't mean to get on this high horse.  He started off confident that he would turn out  one of those penetrating pieces previewing the quarter finals, full of new insights and uniquely informed analysis.  (There's always a first time).  He had visions of making his readers gasp with................. boredom probably.   So let's start again.

And so the CWC quarter finals get underway.  How easy are they to call?  FB notes that most predictions start by saying that the form book should go out the window, these matches are one offs and so on and so cliche but then rigidly stick to the form book.  The pack takes the majority view that Pakistan, Australia, S Africa and Sri Lanka will get through.  Taking the formality of the semi-finals for granted, this then leads to a Sri Lanka v S Africa final.  Which looks quite juicy.  It's a pity that India's star batters won't grace the final, but a good reminder that bowlers are seriously important.

So FB asks himself what could possibly happen to get in the way of this?  Lots - such as:

  • Afridi and Gul can't contain Gayle.    Akmal misses 3 stumpings and 2 catches off his skipper who fails to see the funny side.  Gayle blasts W Indies into a total that is beyond Pakistan's batting which has so far been modest.  They are the only team in the last eight yet to register a century.   Akmal is unable to bat, even with a runner as emergency surgery is required to remove the bat handle from a delicate part.
  • Tendulkar walks following a Brett Lee delivery.  This raises the temperature of the crowd in Ahmedabad.  The heat rises when Ponting stands his ground after a Harbajhan bat and pad.  The ensuing riot stops the match - after careful consideration of what Duckworth Lewis implies for riot interrupted matches India's faster scoring rate prevails. 
  • S Africa rediscover their heritage and reaffirm their choker tag with pride.  Vettori is still struggling with his knee and limps to the wicket in his delivery stride but imparts a different flight to his arm ball which to the nervous Saffie middle order becomes unplayable.  He takes 6 fer as the Saffies crumble.  Neutrals in the crowd cannot restrain their giggling. 
  • England are boringly predictable in their unpredictability - in another tedious roller coaster encounter they and Sri Lanka go to the very last ball of the last over from which Collingwood skillfully knees the leg bye necessary to secure victory.   The run is only confirmed after an agonising 20 minute wait while the UDRS is reviewed.  Guilty and distressed at the possibility of another tear stained phone call from his daughter asking him to come home, Colly immediately speeds to the Colombo Toys-r-Us store and stocks up on Barbie dolls.
Yes, a proper pundit would take all these factors into account and accept the probability of semis of W Indies v NZ and India v England.  And the distinct possibility of the final being a replay of the 1983 final which India won.  Well there you go.

 'Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it' as philosopher George Santayana remarked just as he was out lbw for the fifth time in as many innings.

Santayana - played across the line again and again

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