Monday, March 26, 2007

England poor – Flintoff – empty seats – South Africa lose momentum - lots of TV sets – England poor at soccer too

This is not Michael or Scott, this is Brian Micklethwait, guest posting at Michael's about the cricket, from a non-Oz, London point of view.

I've been sitting in my kitchen in London, keeping track of the scores on Ceefax (never mind) during the day if I'm at home, and then watching and hard discing the highlights on BBC1 TV, at around midnight. Most of the latest show was padding, a lot of repetitious stuff about Scotland and Ireland and all those sixes that Herschelle Gibbs hit off that Dutch guy, again, with a lot of archive video of Sobers, again. And in among that, there was the Bangladesh Bermuda game that Michael has already described. There was hardly anything about India, which is the real story of this game. Couldn't we have had video of agonised Indians in Mumbai, watching appalled as the Bermudans dropped the catches that would have made it Bangladesh four or five down and wobbly, instead of three and cruising?

So anyway, aside from the Bob Woolmer murder mystery and resulting controversy (apart from that Mrs Lincoln ...?) what else do I notice about this Cricket World Cup?

First things first. England look very ropey, with the recent ODI success against Australia in Australia looking more and more of an Australian aberration as the days go by. But, in ODI knock out tournaments, good sides can look very good, right up to the bit where they get knocked out by a side that looked rather poor until then. That, after all, is what happened to Australia in Australia. I hope England can do well, but to do well they will have to do much better.

I hated all the grovelling that Flintoff had to do, after going out on a bender. Okay it was a bit stupid and all that, but being a sportsman is like being a sort of paid child, and I expect childishness from these people, some of them anyway. Sober citizens like Michael Vaughan, who play cricket the way Chartered Accountants do whatever it is they do to accounts, are sober citizens off the field also and to go to bed sober, at their proper bedtime. But Flintoff? He's a boy-man if ever there was one, like Ian Botham before him. And now he's in the West Indies. Of course he would drag some of his friends out with him to try some of the local tipples at the first possible opportunity, and then want to have a go on a bicycle boat.

As so often with World Cups of all kinds, a TV viewer like me can't help notice how few of the locals are bothering to turn up to watch the games. Given how important TV is in all this, can't the TV people buy up the spare tickets and give them away, preferably to young and pretty people, maybe even paying them or otherwise bribing them to show up and fill all those swathes of empty plastic seats? Maybe the locals have already bought all tickets, but then they only show up towards the end, after work, if it looks like it's a good game.

The Australia South Africa (oops wrong link) game was the first one to really get my attention. As Michael has already written here, he witnessed the conclusion of that game in a South African London bar. I was with him there for a while, just when the South African innings was fatally losing its momentum. This showed, I think, how important it is for an ODI batting side, once it is going well, to go on going well. A couple of wickets and everything can change in a blink. From being set fair to get three hundred, they can suddenly be struggling to get over two hundred. Or in this case they can be half way to nearly four hundred with only one wicket down, and still lose by a hundred.

I don't usually watch sport in bars, and I was struck by the sheer number of TV sets there were in this one, even little ones at each of the little tables in the corridor where we watched it, not just big screens in the big bar areas. Cheap flatscreen TVs is what this is all about. Remember those how the first pub TVs used to lean precariously out into the room, to accommodate the bulges behind them. Those days are long gone.

Most of sport-gawping London's attention on Saturday night seemed to be on the Israel England soccer game, which I ignored, sensing tedium and disappointment. I was not wrong. (England are not the same without Beckham, a greatly underrated individual in my opinion.) Before we watched the South Africa game, Michael and I had tried another place where they were showing England versus Kenya, the end of the Kenya innings. But then they switched to the soccer. I should have known, what with the brain-dead chanting that fat blokes in T-shirts had already started doing: Ing! Ger! Land! Ing! Ger! Land! I hate that.

1 comment:

Michael said...

The correct "wrong link" is in fact this one.

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