Posts Tagged ‘twenty20 world cup’
In my ill-judged preview to the ICC World Twenty20 tournament I predicted that England would perform well before imploding somehow in the latter stages. I was wrong. The opposite transpired. England nearly bowed out at hands of two mathematicians and a plucky troupe of Irishmen, before forging on and playing well. Really well.
I still can’t properly credit the miraculous sea-change in England’s limited over cricket since the end of last summer. It’s as if they’ve been replaced by eerily efficient versions of themselves, polished Stepford cricketers.
And now I’m lost. I spent long periods of last year laying lustily into England’s one-day side on the pages of this blog. We used to say at school that it was much easier to write a critical book review for your English homework than a good one. That ethos seems to have leaked into my writing. I’ve got nothing. It’s difficult to sneer at excellence.
So I’m left with the scraps of banal observational musings. Like the fact that the Craig Kieswetter sounds like Prince William doing an impression of Gary Player. Or that there is little more entertaining in life than slow-motion footage of a group of very happy adult men jumping up and down.
All I can say is well done England. And I saw Abdul Razzaq outside my office this afternoon. This really is a strange new dawn.
So the Harris Sportsthoughts Twenty20 World Cup preview grinds to an apologetic halt on the eve of the tournament. Group D, you’re up:
We are now able to add Twenty20 cricket to that tedious list of sports that England invented and are now a bit rubbish at. Built in the image of the national football team, England only perform as well as the opposition put in front of them. Hence last year, England were shamed by the Dutch, before defeating defending champions India and future ones Pakistan. If they could courageously exit in the semi-finals on penalties to Germany having had Kevin Pietersen sent off, then they surely would. Currently undergoing an operation to become fully South African, which means they are even more likely to plummet out of the tournament in hilarious style. Has anyone seen England and South Africa in the same room? Oh yes, today in Bridgetown.
The West Indies are the home team, which counted for not very much during the last World Cup in the region when most of its support was loitering ticketless outside the grounds trying to listen to what was going down. Might be amazing, might be awful. Which is an improvement on last year’s Champions Trophy, where a second string side were only going to be awful.
Ireland have recently made a habit of taking a scalp in the preliminary stages of major tournaments, before clogging up the second phase with their mediocrity. Quite capable of repeating the trick (see England above). Are destined to be forever plagued by strange men in synthetic orange beards.
Group C is the next in our increasingly tiresome preview of the Twenty20 World Cup, which has actually had the effect of diminishing my enthusiasm for the tournament.
South Africa have certainly been handed a raw deal with this ongoing player exchange programme with England. Apparently the scorer is English though. The squad still look pretty strong however, but if past performances are anything to go by then expect them to train on strongly in the early stages before bottling it in comic style somewhere around the semi-final. That said, it would be typical for the Proteas to finally bag a trophy at a time when everyone back in the homeland is too busy putting up the bunting for the World Cup to notice.
Playing India is like taking on your granny at backgammon. She gains an advantage because she plays a lot more than you, so your main hope is that she’ll get tired . She might also struggle against the short ball. The Indians will hope that Yuvraj Singh will have woken from his parlous IPL sulk, and are Sehwagless again, but with MS Dhoni at the tiller anything is achievable. Just ask a Chennai Superking.
Whatever happens to Afghanistan, I’m sure the film of their story has already been pitched somewhere. A sort of Cool Runnings conceived by Khaled Hosseini. If only John Candy was still alive.
Continuing our build-up to the Twenty20 World Cup in the Caribbean, and having cast my eye over Group A last night, it seems sensible to carry on alphabetically with Group B. Given that I was able to make no conclusions about the fate of the A teams, this probably isn’t worth reading, but here it is anyway:
Sri Lanka are good. They reached the final last year, thanks in no small part to Tillakaratne Dilshan and his funny little scoop shot. Since then he has grown an equally funny little beard. It’s sculpted to look as if he’s been dribbling Marmite and it seems to have pre-occupied him to the detriment of his batting, judging by his IPL form. Muralitharan and Jayasuriya have 77 years between them and have obviously signed some pact for eternal youth with the devil.
New Zealand never really threaten to achieve anything in these tournaments but they’re never completely embarrassing either. If the team was a global clothes store then they’d be Gap. Serviceable, uninspiring and above all, beige. Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder are the pink floral print board shorts in the rack of charcoal grey action slacks.
World take note, Zimbabwe are BACK. I know, things will never be the same again. This time they’re coached by Alan Butcher, who last time I checked was being swept aside by the revolution of crap at Surrey. Will go head-to-head with Afghanistan in the contest to be the representatives of the most strife-ridden country.
Prediction: I don’t know again.
The giddying torrent of Twenty20 cricket continues in the Caribbean. It’s only been a year since the last World Cup in the short format. But it’s still international cricket and therefore worthy of our attention so here is the first of my group summaries and predictions which are based on broad national stereotypes and the first things that come into my head. So get yourself down the bookie immediately after reading.
Brilliantly, Australia are considered rank outsiders in this group according to the seedings. They’ve always seemed a bit snooty about Twenty20, as if it’s a preamble to something else. It’s probably because they’re not very good at it. Appear to be approaching the end of that transitional period when all their legends retired to be replaced by a lot of very large young men who look like they all live together in the same ramshackle beachhouse playing wag from Heartbreak High.
Bangladesh are mostly made up of those naughty boys at school who were obviously more talented than anyone else but more interested in etching willies on the underside of their desk with a compass. They’d turn up and scorch a quick fifty before getting themselves out so they could go and chuck gravel at the chess club. My cricket teacher had even less hair than Jamie Siddons. Are capable of winning any game, particularly with Tamim Iqbal firing away at the top of the order. As far as I’m aware, Tamim is not into penile graffiti which will stand him in good stead.
Pakistan are the defending champions but given that this is Pakistan and this is Twenty20 cricket anything could happen. Remember that the last time they came to the West Indies for a tournament, an abortive murder investigation was launched following the death of their coach. Seriously, anything could happen. Shahid Afridi is the captain and also the personification of mental Pakistani cricket. He’s very dangerous with bat and ball, provided he hasn’t eaten the ball first.
Prediction: I don’t know.
Spare a thought for Steve Davies, England’s new third-choice wicketkeeper. Not only has he spent the last fortnight watching a South African interloper snuggle into his reserve keeper berth, but has been forced to do so from the uneasy distance of about 22 yards away. The England Lions novel tactic of opening the innings with two glovemen has pitted Davies against Craig Kieswetter in a cricketing version of a gladiatorial fight with pugil sticks, a tussle which has left Davies eating crash mat.
Kieswetter has almost certainly impressed the Colly-Flower management axis to such extent that he should think about packing his Bermuda shorts for the Caribbean and the Twenty20 World Cup. England could feasibly repeat the selection of two keepers in the side to accommodate Kieswetter at the top of the innings. It could catch on, like three centre-backs did in the nineties.
Davies is now left to stitch an ironic ‘England’s No.3′ into his gloves and head off down to the shadowy depths of LVCC Division 2 and his new club at the Oval. I wish him well, not only as a Surrey fan, but because there’s a vague danger that Chris Adams is currently transforming the county into a cricketing sister of Newcastle United: a graveyard for the potential of talented young cricketers, whose reputations are hoovered up into nothing.
Not that I’m overly pessimistic.