Friday, March 16, 2007

Bowlers have a fighting chance in the 2007 World Cup, and I'm pleased.

Prior to the start of the 2007 World Cup, there was a lot of media speculation about some very high scores being made by the batting sides. There was even talk of 500 being possible. This would seem insane even a few years ago, but in the last 12 months it has been shown that 400+ scores are quite possible.

To score 500 would be very difficult, and a lot of things need to go right for it to happen, but there's so much limited overs cricket being played, and mostly in conditions strongly favouring the batsmen, that it seems that it is bound to happen eventually. However, from the early exchanges this week, it seems most unlikely that it will happen in the 2007 World Cup. As I write, New Zealand are giving England's batsmen a torrid time in their group game in St. Lucia. England will probably be content to get 200 at this rate, never mind 500.

There are plenty of people that think high scoring matches are a good thing- the game where Australia scored 434 and still lost last year was widely acclaimed to be one of the greatest games of all time. However, I think that is nonsense- the bowlers were reduced to mere bowling machines, and it is a form of cricket that is reduced to a mere batathon.

The majority of casual cricket viewers seem to like this form of cricket, but for me, cricket is a contest between bat and ball. So I've been delighted with the early games, where teams that are evenly matched fighting out moderately scoring games. The match between West Indies and Pakistan was a classic match- runs were possible for batsmen of talent, but there was enough in the wicket for bowlers to do well if they were good enough.

And with the scores likely to be more even, there is more chance of getting matches like the thriller between Zimbabwe and Ireland. And it is in the really close games that the real skill and character of the cricketer is revealed. In World Cup matches, this can mean the difference between becoming a part of cricket history and a legend of the game. Just ask Lance Klusener.

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