Posts Tagged ‘Cricket World Cup’
As ever the Cricket World Cup is shaping up to be another slough of despond for England fans. With most of the action happening in the small hours it’s tempting just to ignore it completely, but if we must follow it then maybe it’s best to manage expectations. Personally I’m going to judge England’s performance against the standards of my own team, a friendly side that plays around six games a summer.
First of all it was good to see that all England players turned up on time. No-one got caught in traffic or slept in too late and Eoin Morgan wasn’t forced to bat first while he waited for half his team to pitch up. Everybody looked smart. All players were wearing trousers. There seemed to be enough kit to go around. There were no delays while incoming and outgoing batsmen exchanged boxes and similarly all batsmen were padded up ready to go in. Which was a good job. There was a new ball for each innings, in fact there were two new balls for each innings which is outstanding.
Someone took a hat-trick. A hat-trick! That makes them a shoe-in for the Bowler of the Year award at the end-of-season dinner, largely because that will be the only thing anyone can remember when voting. Someone else nearly scored a hundred. That is unheard of. Only a few catches were dropped. Not half bad.
Fundamentally England were able to field eleven players. Some of whom looked as if they could bat better than they could bowl and some of whom who looked as if they could bowl better than they could bat. And some of them, well, some of them were at least there. It was encouraging to see that there seemed to be three or four other people on the sidelines who looked like they might able to step in if later in tournament one of the regulars withdraws citing a prior hitherto unmentioned commitment or a sudden early-morning “migraine”.
So there are plenty of positives to take from the game and apparently they serve a really good tea at Wellington, where the next game is. Onwards.
Just before Christmas I was approached by US sports network ESPN to provide them some copy for some adverts promoting their coverage of the Cricket World Cup. Yes, I know, I was surprised as you are now. But delighted also.
I took this very seriously. A bit like a method actor I got into the character of an American ad man – I smoked like a chimney, developed a chronic alcohol dependency and repeatedly cheated on my wife. It’s alright, she doesn’t read this.
In actuality I was brought in as a genuine cricket geek (remarkably it seems that news of my status as a sport saddo has travelled across the Atlantic) to ensure that any copy would seem authentic to the surprisingly large community of cricket loons Stateside. I supplied them with such gems as “delivery” and “toss”. This ad forms part of the result of our collaboration:
In my head this campaign is the flint that creates the spark that lights the fire of cricket in America. My head is a strange place.
In my head the ESPN coverage of the World Cup reaches non-cricket fans and something clicks. Before long games of street cricket will be played from the projects of New York through to huge collegiate matches in front of fanatical support. In the future when Americans think of the Super Bowl they won’t think of football, they’ll think of a really good delivery. And when they talk of the death of baseball, they’ll all agree that the beginning of the end was the 2015 Cricket World Cup and the ESPN coverage and ultimately my “toss”.
Before most major sporting tournaments I like to whet the appetite by glancing back over some of the action of yesteryear. But having visited the buffet bar of Cricket World Cup memories, I’ve decided I’m not that hungry.
Admittedly my recollections of the early competitions are sketchy, being that I was -4 when the inaugural World Cup took place. The participants were mainly robust-looking men with big collars and bigger hair whose primary ambition was to exit the field of play in order to avoid the frequent invasions of onrushing Rasta men and bell-bottomed youths. Who in turn were inevitably chased by harrassed coppers who looked like they’d spilt over from the set of Z Cars.
The 1992 jamboree probably has most to commend it with its modish pastel pyjamas and Jonty Rhodes‘ demented stump obliteration against Pakistan. But the most enduring incident was the result of a suspect pre-Duckworth Lewis rain calculation which left South Africa needing 22 off the last ball to beat England. They didn’t make it. They should have run quicker.
1996 was a largely forgettable tournament save for the emergence of a Sri Lankan side led by Arjuna Ranatuga, who pioneered the enterprising tactic of irritating his opponents into submission. My most lurid recollection is of English opener Neil Smith violently chundering by the wicket in Peshawar against the UAE. I like to think of that small technicolour puddle as a powerfully iconoclastic statement against the ongoing failure of English limited over cricket.
From that point on the dispiriting Australian procession began and may continue in the coming weeks. Sky Sports have been showing highlights packages of all tournaments, while pointedly excluding the last World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007. I don’t blame them. It’s a story no-one needs to be told.