Thursday, 17 May 2007

World Cup of Flops

Last week I suggested that the administrators and the umpires didn't deserve the World Cup of flops title, even if they will be remembered that way. If it were fair to lump them together as one team, which it isn't, I'd probably give them third place. The poor scheduling intended to suit tv companies, together with the high ticket prices and associated loss of atmosphere, really could have been avoided. But some others flopped pretty well too...

The Flop Champions would have to be Pakistan. A disappointing performance on the field and two players missing after the drug test debacle were completely overshadowed by the death of their coach, which now apparently may not have been murder. Either way, there are a lot of problems in Pakistani cricket, and the repeated stupid comments from Pakistani spokesmen back up my suspicions that the problems are at a much deeper level than the national team. Having an administration run by the military government may or may not be relevant.

Second are India. While they were probably not helped by being drawn in the most
competitive of the groups, their failure to progress to the Super Eights was well below their standards and, together with Pakistan's early exit, a large part of the problem with the Super Eights stage. This can only be blamed on India and Pakistan - there is no way the tournament should have been arranged to ensure it took more than one bad performance to knock a favourite out in the first round, no matter how good that would be for television. A tournament is all
about having to perform at the right time, and each team getting their chance.

If it really isn't fair to drop out so easily, then why not make the World Cup a huge round-robin. That might take a long time, so instead of holding it in one place at one time, let it run throughout the year, and add up the points at the end. Is it starting to sound like the ICC ODI Championship yet? The World Cup is meant to be a tournament, not simply a world ranking, and allowing teams like Bangladesh and even Ireland a chance to make it further than they
might just emphasises this.

West Indies come in fourth. On home soil, and after their recent results in the Champions Trophy, their performance was definitely not the way to farewell Brian Lara. Actually, considering that as hosts they had a hand in the organisation, I'm tempted to give
them equal third place. England weren't far behind, with very disappointing batting and all-rounders falling off pedalos in the middle of the night.

South Africa and New Zealand are next on the list. Both teams showed promise, but just didn't perform as they could or should have. That concludes the list of real flops. Scotland, the Netherlands and Kenya can't have expected much more or less than what they achieved, although the Scots would be disappointed and the Dutch quite pleased with the result of their match. Zimbabwe also could not realistically expect more, but
in any case I have disqualified them on the grounds that their cricket is in even more of a mess than Pakistan's, just like the country as a whole.

That leaves five nations with good reason to be pleased with their World Cup performance. Bangladesh once again showed they are capable of defeating giants on occasion, and Ireland performed remarkably well, particularly in the bowling department. Although results for these two since the World Cup have been quite different, their future is looking positive. Bermuda were ecstatic at simply reaching the World Cup, and rightly so. Sri Lanka outplayed the non-finalists by far and of course Australia can't be upset
with going through the tournament undefeated.

Hopefully a few of the flops will turn around their performances, and the rest of the year's cricket will not be such a disappointment. The Test at Lords, starting tomorrow, shows a bit of promise, with both England and the West Indies having a chance to show a new face.

No comments: