Saturday, March 17, 2007

Things I didn't mean, and walks in the park

Yesterday, I said "This should be very interesting, as it is our first chance to see if England are genuinely improved or if the Commonwealth Bank series was a walk in the park. Also, South Africa open their campaign against the Netherlands. That game should be a walk in the park for the South Africans". That of course is not what I intended to say. My mind was a sentence ahead of my fingers, and I put "a walk in the park" in the first sentence when I meant "a false dawn". I should probably use fewer cliches.

However, we did get the answer to the question. It was a false dawn. When I was composing my preview, I thought long and hard about what I thought about England. Their record in one day cricket is abysmal, except for that fine four game streak against New Zealand and Australia going into this tournament. Did that streak mean anything. Had they somehow overcome their manifest failings on most of the Ashes tour and had the professionalism that they showed in 2005 suddenly come back at the same time they had finally learned to play one day cricket.

It was in truth a tall order, and yesterday I think they proved it was a false dawn. New Zealand simply outplayed them. England lost Joyce off the first legitimate ball of the match and Bell and Vaughan not too long afterwards. (3/52). Collingwood and Pieterson then took the score to 133, but then there was a collapse. They were both out, so was Flintoff first ball, and then was Dalrymple. 7/138.

At that point it looked terrible for England, but they then took advantage of New Zealand's big weakness, which is that they are a lesser side when Simon Bond has no more overs to bowl. He bowled superbly yesterday (as he almost always does - he is really a fine player) to take 2/19 off ten overs. But he was bowled out, and New Zealand couldn't finish off the English. 42 to Nixon and 29 to Plunkett too England to 7/209 off their 50 overs. That was something to bowl at, and when New Zealand were 3/19 it looked like England had turned around a disastrous situation.

But they hadn't. From that point, New Zealand did what was needed with embarassing ease, only losing one more wicket. 27 to McMillan, 63 not out to Oram, 87 not out to Styris. England's bowling was ineffective. New Zealand got the runs with six wickets in hand and nine overs to spare, to win in the end with embarassing ease. New Zealand have their advertised weaknesses, but play well within them. England are not going very far in this tournament.

And it was indeed a walk in the park for South Africa. Not much to say really. The game was reduced to 40 overs due to rain, but South Africa scores 3/353 regardless. Kallis scored 128 not out, Smith scored 67, Gibbs scored 72, Boucher 75 not out. The Netherlands could only manage 9/132 off their 40 overs. The notables thing about the match was the Gibbs scored six sixes off an over against van Bunge, the first time it has been done in a one day international, and Boucher hit the fastest fifty in world cup history (from 21 balls). A rather brutal example of how a strong side can destroy a weak one if it really wants to.

Today India are playing Bangladesh and Pakistan are taking on Ireland. Ireland are on a high after their tie with Zimbabwe and Pakistan on a low after losing to the West Indies. A boilover would almost certainly be enough for Ireland to make the next roung, and Pakistan are unpredictable, but I don't really believe it will happen. Pakistan to win comfortable. India v Bangladesh has started, and Bangladesh are giving India a torrid time, and have them at 2/24 off ten overs. In my tournament preview, I only covered the top eight, and lumped Bangladesh with the minnows. This perhaps wasn't fair, as they are clearly the best of those eight sides. If they prove that it wasn't fair by winning criket matches, then I will be delighted to see it.

2 comments:

Squarecut said...

I think the Irish are celebrating the St. Patrick's day by the match. I am almost sure that they will win the match today. And that means, good bye to Pakistan.

And YES! Bangladesh played brilliantly.

Michael said...

Yes. Two absolutely sensational results today with Bangladesh and Ireland both winning. Lots of blogging from me on that later.

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