Sunday, March 18, 2007

Brief daily thoughts

Like everyone else, I was sorrowed and surprised to hear of Bob Woolmer's death. There really isn't much I can say. He was clearly a man who loved his cricket, and my condolences go out to his friends and family.

There is no need for more than a brief discussion of the day's play. Whereas yesterday was a day of upsets, everything went according to the script today. Australia had little trouble with Holland. Australia got off to a solid start before losing the wickets of Gilchrist, Hayden and Ponting, to take the score to 3/116 of 20.1 overs. Hodge and Clark gave a texbook demonstration of how to play in such a situation, letting the scoreboard tick over at four or five an over, and not losing further wickets. As the 40 over mark approached, they boosted the scoring rate, and Hodge in particular really cut loose, eventually hitting seven sixes and scoring 123 off 89 balls before being out in the 48th over after a partnership of 204. Clarke ended up 93 not out off 85 balls and Watson a quick 12 off four balls to take Austalia to 5/358 off the 50 overs. The Dutch couldn't compete at all, steadily losing wickets to be all out for 129. Wickets were shared. McGrath and Bracken each took two and Hogg took four. Australia won by 229 runs

The two wins mean that for all practical purposes Australia are through to the super eight. (To miss out, Australia would have to lose to South Africa, Scotland would have to beat South Africa, and Scotland would have to beat the Netherlands, and all those games would have to have winning margins of about 250 runs. It isn't going to happen). Australia play South Africa on Friday. This is an important game, as the points will carry over into the super eight. Look to Austrlia to bring Andrew Symonds in for that game. I am not sure who Australia leave out though. Hodge and Clark would have been the most likely choices, but both played well today. I can't imagine they would leave out Hussey, so it is a difficult choice for the selectors.

In the other game, England played Canada. After England's off field indiscipline (that Philip has written about) they dropped Flintoff from the side and essentially stripped him of the vice-captaincy. England were sent in by Canada, and batted solidly but not spectacularly for the 50 overs. Runs from Joyce and Collingwood, and a few from Vaughan and Bopara got them an unexciting but perfectly adequate 6/278 off the 50 overs. Canada lost a couple of early wickets, and then weren't really in the hunt, although they batted solidly and England were at times a little sloppy in the field. Canada managed a total of 228/7 off the 50 overs, and England won by 51 runs.

This isn't really very impressive on the part of England - Kenya beat Canada much more convincingly last week than did England today - and England have not had an impressive tournament so far - but they are still perfectly on track to make the Super Eight. Assuming New Zealand beat Kenya on Tuesday, England will just need to beat Kenya on Satuday to go through. If they lose they will be out, but it will be nobody's fault but theirs. They should be strong enough to win easily enough. In the unlikely event that Kenya beat New Zealand, it may be that England's lacklustre performances will count against them in terms of net run rate. However, they will have the advantage of playing the last game in the group. They will know exactly what to do. And this is all speculation anyway. New Zealand are much too disciplined to lose to Kenya, so England are likely to have the simple equation of needing a win.

Tomorrow we have Bermuda versus India in Trinidad and West Indies versus Zimbabwe in Jamaica. It is very important indeed for India that they beat Bermuda by the largest possible margin. We may well see fireworks when India bats. If the West Indies beat Zimbabwe, then the West Indies are through. In the unlikely event that Zimbabwe wins, Group D becomes even more complicated than it is already.

1 comment:

Giles said...

Cant see how Wolmer could have thrown the match. I dont believe that the Pakistani players are so obedient that if he gave them rubbish orders they'd comply.

More likely he was murdered becasue he found out methinks?

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