Cricket World Cup
After 38 days of hors d’oeuvres (some being very tasty indeed), we now approach the denouement of the World Cup. Tuesday sees the first semi-final between India and New Zealand at Old Trafford while England face the old enemy, Australia, two days later at fortress Edgbaston.
So, before we look forward to the semis, let’s take the opportunity to look at what we learnt from the qualifying round robin.
Looking at the health of international cricket, it is useful to compare the interest in the sport during the world cup with women’s football, which has been running its world tournament at very much the same time. Sadly, cricket has not done well. No doubt selling the media rights to Sky has been remunerative to the international sport but it has resulted in it being marginalised while the football has been given the oxygen of publicity from a comprehensive BBC coverage.
All the general sporting conversation has been about the Women’s World Cup with talk about the cricket competition pretty much sidelined to cognoscenti of the sport. A few highlights often late at night on Channel 4 cannot compete with massive live coverage on BBC and, of course, the performances of the Lionesses have helped. It is understood that, if England reach the final, it will be free to air, so maybe some benefit might accrue to English cricket from a “home” world cup.
No team has shown themselves to be unbeatable but, on the whole, it is reasonable to argue that the best four teams are competing in the semi-finals. New Zealand have looked vulnerable at times but have been consistent enough to win their “must-win” matches.
England, despite the protestations of captain and coach, do look a much better unit when setting a target. Their only win chasing was against the West Indies, who once again flattered to deceive and underperformed in this tournament. England were comprehensively outplayed by Australia in the round robin but talismanic batsman Roy is back and, back at Edgbaston where they are unbeaten in all ODIs since 2015, a reversal of fortunes is a distinct possibility.
India have been the most consistent team so far with just one defeat to their name. They have an excellent bowling attack and a top-class top order. However, they do have a bit of a tail and are beatable as demonstrated by a very nervy win over Afghanistan and a defeat to England. Having said that, it is difficult to see New Zealand stopping India’s path to the final.
That’s it for now. Please check tomorrow’s blog for a preview of Tuesday’s semi-final along with our selections. Let’s hope the weather behaves itself so that the matches are won through ability rather than luck.