Sunday, February 23, 2003

Brief roundup of the weekend's World Cup matches. The most important match over the weekend was England-Pakistan, in which England scored a superb win, thanks largely to some really good bowling from Jimmy Anderson, who took 4/29 off ten overs. England have defaulted a match in this tournament, but are yet to lose a game on the field. They need to beat India to be certain of a place in the Super Six stage. If they lose to India, then they must beat Australia, India must beat Pakistan, and England must have a better net run rate than either India or Pakistan. (My attempts to find a pub showing the match in Liverpool yesterday evening were entirely unsuccessful. Finding a pub showing England playing Wales at rugby was trivial, however. Thoughts on what this means some other time). However, England are looking good, and their supporters should be happy.

Meanwhile South Africa annihilated Bangladesh by 10 wickets with 38 overs to spare. The longer this tournament goes on, the more Bangladesh look underserving of their test status, sadly. I doubt much can be read into this game from the South African point of view. South Africa have never had a problem looking good in easy games.

As for today, India scored a 181 run win over Namibia. Same comments again, although 152 from Tendulkar and 112 no from Ganguly suggest that India's gun batsmen are coming into form, which they need.

And of course, Shane Warne was banned from cricket for one year. My opinion is that this is a reasonably lenient sentence. His teammates think it is horribly harsh. I have lots more to say on this, but not now. I need sleep.

Update: Now that I am rested, some further comments. There was of course one more game over the weekend, Canada's Day/Night game against West Indies. This started out in an extraordinary way, with John Davison (really an Australian, but playing for Canada because he was born there) scoring the fastest century in World Cup history. At one point Canada were 1/155 off 20.5 overs. However, nobody else did much besides Davison's 111, and Canada were all out for 202. West Indies overhauled this with little difficultly, with 73 to Lara and 42 not out to Sarwan, who is looking like being one of the batting stars of the tournament. I look forward eagerly to the match between West Indies and Sri Lanka. That one should be a beauty. That said, the West Indian bowling still looks weak, however strong the batting looks. (The batting is starting to look terrific).

Plus I have to comment once again what a splendid surprise packet these Canadians have turned out to be. They aren't winning many matches, but do they look to be enjoying themselves.

Finally, back in Australia, test captain Steve Waugh continues to score a mountain of runs for New South Wales. In the domestic one day final on Saturday, he scored 88 off 55 balls including 16 fours and a six. Opposing captain (and test opening batsman) Justin Langer responded by saying that "I'll give you a line about Steve Waugh, if he's not going to the West Indies, he is a clown, he is in the best form of his career," Besides mentioning what a wonderfully colourful thing is Australian English, I think Steve Waugh will now go to the West Indies. For one thing, his test career average is at the moment just under 50, and he cares about things like that, even if he says he doesn't. For another, there is simply the "Why not?" factor. If he is still good enough, which he is, why not continue to be paid enormous sums of money to play for a bit longer.

Another interesting situation would come up if one of the batsmen in the World Cup squad was injured and had to pull out of the tournament. If Australia had to choose a replacement, Waugh is clearly the form player. If the situation came up, it would be interesting to see what the selectors did. And it would be interesting to see what Ponting wanted.

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