Wednesday, 20 April 2011
So it may well prove difficult for the ICC to get enough of the full members to vote for a qualification tournament; Bangladeshi and Zimbabwean turkeys are unlikely to be great fans of Christmas. Instead they may try and devise a new format. To the greatest degree possible, it must (a) match the ICC's TV contract with ESPN-Star, which requires a minimum of 48 games in the World Cup and (b) ensure India play as many games as possible. These are the depressing realities.
Within these not inconsiderable constraints, what is the best we can hope for?
My proposal would be for two groups of six, which would make for 30 round-robin games.
Ideally I would then like the group winners to progress to the semi-finals, and the second and third sides to play off against each other, but that format would mean the ICC would have to pay a lot of compensation.
Alternatively - and more financially viable (how depressing it is how finances cannot be separated from any discussion of World Cup formats) - the top four could go into a Super Eight phase. Now, I know - cricket has not had good experiences with Super Eights / Sixes in 50-over World Cups.
But two groups of four, along the lines of the format used in the World Twenty20, would possess an excitement wholly lacking in the miserable 2007 tournament, when the Super Eights seemed to never end.
These groups could consist of the top and fourth ranked side from group A in the opening stages, alongside numbers two and three from group B (and visa versa). No points would be carried forward, as this is always liable to be messy. But crucially, the positions of any sides level on points after the Super Eights would be determined by what position they finished in the first round groups. This would create a real incentive for sides to win their groups in the first round - one conspicuous by its absence in the recent tournament.
There would therefore by 12 Super Eight games (each side playing the others in their group), bringing the total number of games to 42. Add in semis, a third-placed play-off and the final and that brings us to 46, minimising the damage to the ICC.
Perhaps it's not quite ideal - what tournament structure is? - but this format both protects the full members and gives an incentive to the associates to progress. Above all, it would create a much more vibrant and exciting tournament than the current planned format for 2015.
We'll see what is announced at the ICC's meeting in June. In the meantime, what an opportunity for Ireland. If they were to win one of their two ODIs against Pakistan in May, let alone both, while getting large crowds in, the case for the reversal of the scandalous decision would grow greater still.
Monday, 18 April 2011
- Every side would have to play every other in their league home-and-away, in at least three match series, over a four-year cycle. This means every side would have to play a minimum of 30 Tests every four years for the purposes of the Test championship.
- Sides would be free to play longer series (four or five Tests) should they please - so the Ashes could continue in exactly the same way.
- Sides would also be free to play Tests against countries outside their division; New Zealand would therefore be able to play around 20 Tests against sides in the top division (when they were outside) every four years. This is only slightly less than they do at the moment. The Ashes, for example, would continue in an identical way even if Australia continued their slump and were relegated.
- The points system would work as follows. For every series in the division, there would be a total of six points available. Five of these would be allocated according to the games (so there would be 1 point available per victory in a Test in a five-match series, but 1.67 per victory in a three-Test series, preventing teams getting an advantage for playing more). The points system would encourage attacking cricket - both sides would only get one-third of the points available for a game if they drew it - and also ensure 'dead rubbers' retained a real relevance. There would also be a one-point bonus for a side winning a series.
- The culmination of the four years would be the play-off matches - providing Test cricket with a showpiece event it needs. Matches would be played at a country that won the hosting rights. The play-offs would consist of the top two sides in the top division playing three Tests to determine the Test champions of the tournament. During the breaks between their Tests, there would be the play-off series, also of three Tests, between the bottom (sixth-placed) side in the top division and the winners of the second division, with the winners earning the right to play in the top division for the next four-year cycle. Pitches would be prepared by an independent body, designed with results in mind. In the event of a drawn series, the winners of the second division would be promoted, thereby encouraging the higher-ranked side to play attacking cricket and prove they deserved to remain in the division.
Let’s be honest – it’s going to be pretty unpalatable. Against everyone except Bangladesh, Zimbabwe will get thrashed. A 38-year-old Murray Goodwin would be their best batsman if he revoked his international retirement. Heck, if Andy Flower fancied a new challenge I’m sure he could get back in the side tomorrow. Damning evidence of how uncompetitive Zimbabwe will be came during the World Cup, especially a ten-wicket loss to a New Zealand side that lost 4-0 in an ODI series in Bangladesh five months earlier. They certainly didn’t look much like a side who have earned their Test status back – rather, one who will simply massage the statistics of their opponents.
See my post on How it would actually work
Saturday, 16 April 2011
2010 was a somewhat disappointing year overall for the Gladiators. In the County Championship the club finished fifth in Division Two after a fairly disastrous end to the season. Once again it was generally the bowling which was the stronger suit for Gloucestershire, so much so in fact that two thirds of their 2010 County Championship wickets came from players who have been drawn away to supposedly bigger and better things. The biggest negative for Gloucestershire was undoubtedly the ease with which they were turned over on no less than nine occasions (matched only by Warwickshire). At home they won just two County Championship matches, not good enough. In the T20, Gloucestershire finished bottom of the Southern Group, enough said. It was a slightly better story in the 40 Over League, where the Gladiators narrowly missed out on the knockout stages, finishing third by just one point in Group B. Overall, it was a season to forget, although there were glimpses of the potential residing at this club of great history.
Departures galore across the disciplines will hurt the Gladiators, but not perhaps as much as people first may think. A promotion challenge is an outside possibility, but without a top quality spinner in the County Championship, and with a number of inexperienced players throughout the side, the consistency of performance will probably not match that required for a serious push. Much more likely is success in the T20, aided by the signing of the magical Murali, somewhat of a miracle for a club so strapped of cash. This alone would be a welcome change from last season, when the club faired so badly. A lot will depend on how quickly the new youngsters and new overseas signing, Kane Williamson, adapt to county cricket.
The top order has undergone a bit of an overhaul, as in been replaced! Kadeer Ali was let go and William Porterfield is now plying his trade at Warwickshire. Allrounder Rob Woodman and very surprisingly, wicket keeper Steven Snell, were also released. Finally, James Franklin has been replaced by fellow Kiwi Williamson, a destructive player with bags of potential. Ian Cockbain, Richard Coughtrie and Chris Dent face a tough time in their first full seasons with the club and this is why I expect the batting to once again be the county’s downfall across the competitions. Will Gidman meanwhile will hope for more action than he had at Durham, now that he has been reunited with his brother once again. The burden will rest largely with Captain and talisman Alex Gidman and overseas player Williamson, who will bat at three. Hamish Marshall along with veterans Jonathan Batty and Chris Taylor will also be looked to for significant contributions across the three formats and a bit more consistency than they were able to muster last year.
The departures have been plentiful. Steve Kirby has moved on to Somerset in the hope of international honours as he approaches the twilight of his career. The great find of last season, Gemaal Hussain rather did the dirty on the club that gave him a chance and joins Kirby at Somerset for this season. Franklin hasn’t come back this year and even Anthony Ireland has moved on to Middlesex. However, what appears depressing to begin with could in fact become a major positive for the club. Young fast bowlers are coming through the ranks and there are high hopes for Liam Norwell (right arm fast-medium) especially, along with David Payne (left arm fast-medium) and Ian Saxelby (right arm medium, who can bat). Led by the evergreen Jon Lewis, who is fast becoming an allrounder it seems, there is real hope for the seam attack this year, so expect the bowling to remain pretty strong despite the departures. The problem then? Spin, or the lack thereof yet again. Gloucestershire will again be dependent on the inconsistent twosome of Vikram Banerjee and Richard Dawson (now also the spin bowling coach), apart from when Murali arrives for the T20 of course. If only he could play all year...
A. Gidman (c)
An all pace attack is likely more often than not in the County Championship, given the relative weakness of the spin options available.
My pick is Alex Gidman, Captain, talisman and a supremely talented and dangerous player, who has been on the verge of England selection for the past few years. He can be a destructive player, whose allround contribution and leadership of those younger players will prove decisive on many occasions for Gloucestershire this year. He will have to massively improve on last years’ efforts though, when he averaged just 23.
Liam Norwell is a young right arm English bowler capable of making the breakthrough this year and more than that, making a real contribution to the county’s success. If he performs as well for the Gladiators as he has for the youth team then the county will find themselves with a more than adequate replacement for the likes of Steve Kirby and Gemaal Hussain.
Captain and Coach:
Alex Gidman has already been mentioned a lot, indicating the county’s reliance on him. As a Captain he leads by example and hopefully the younger additions to the side will follow in his stride. As for the coach, John Bracewell, he has always been considered as a bit of a one day specialist, but he will be desperate to improve the clubs fortunes in the longest and shortest versions of the game. His nurturing of the young talent in this side will be key to Gloucestershire’s chances of success and he will need to get the blend of experience and youth right throughout the season.
Just outside the promotion places in the County Championship and progress to the knockout stages of the T20 Cup. Finals day is a possibility if the batting clicks for the Gladiators, but it rarely does. The 40 Over League will probably be used as a breeding ground for some more youngsters meanwhile.
Friday, 15 April 2011
One-day fun days accompanied by self-destruction in the championship. A first season in Division One since 2003 ended, as it had done on the two previous occasions that Essex reached the top tier, with relegation. After thumping eventual champions Notts and drawing with Yorkshire in July, Essex had 107 points from 11 matches and faced relegation rivals Warwickshire (twice) and Kent in their final five games. They lost four (only drawing with Durham after relegation was confirmed), bowled out for less than 200 seven times in 14 innings, and mustering just 19 points. You don't have to be Good Will Hunting to work out that equation.
Still, there was the usual proficiency in the short forms to enjoy. Ryan ten Doeschate, despite missing a chunk of the season with injury, showcased the abilities that would later inspire the Netherlands at the World Cup, while Ravi Bopara and the ever-in-bloom Grant Flower (who notched two 40-over tons at the age of 39) also scored heavily as Essex reached the semi-finals of both the Twenty20 Cup and the CB40 competition. However, Dwayne Bravo was bussed in to fairly disastrous effect for T20 finals day, while a Trescothick-inspired Somerset ended hopes of a fourth one-day title in six years.
I write this after the first game of the season (defeat to Kent) and in the midst of a first-innings collapse against Middlesex, so the forecast looks a little bleak right now. The addition of Owais Shah (currently at the IPL with Ten Doeschate) should strengthen the batting, while the return to the second tier will hopefully give the likes of Jaik Mickleburgh, Tom Westley and Billy Godleman further opportunities to develop. The bowling attack, led by the supremely reliable David Masters and with South Africa's Lonwabe Tsotsobe as overseas player, looks as good as any in Division Two - if, unusually for Essex, a little light on spin options.
However, if Bopara joins Alastair Cook on England duty for much of the summer and the likes of Mark Pettini and Matthew Walker fail to contribute significantly, captain James Foster is going to need shoulders like Atlas to lead Essex up again. The Eagles were somewhat fortunate (and probably unready) to win promotion two seasons ago, so don't be surprised to see them fiddle around in the middle of the Div Two pack in 2011. Essex's focus is likely to remain on both the one-day competitions - T20 at Chelmsford is the county's real money spinner, after all - and with Ten Does and Scott Styris in the side for the 20-over format, a real crack at lifting the trophy for the first time is expected.
With everyone available, this would have been my first-choice line-up before the start of the season:
Cook, Mickleburgh, Shah, Bopara, Walker, Ten Doeschate, Foster (wk), Masters, Phillips/Wright, Tsotsobe, Chambers
However, with the emergence of Reece Topley (see below) and the absence of key players due to the IPL and international call-ups, the team is more likely to look something like this:
Godleman, Mickleburgh, Bopara/Pettini, Walker, Westley, Foster (wk), Phillips, Masters, Tsotsobe, Chambers, Topley/Wright
James Foster has had more than enough on his plate in recent seasons, what with keeping wicket to almost Russellian standards and maintaining a batting average in the 35+ region, all the while trying to catch the selectors' eye. Now he's got the captaincy to manage too. After the pressure proved too much for Pettini midway through last season, Foster carried out an adroit balancing act that didn't seem to greatly affect his form (he finished as joint leading run-scorer in the championship) - but he'll have to do the same in spades this year if he is not to be overwhelmed.
Reece Topley - who doesn't even have a first-team profile on the Essex website - is a 6ft 7in 17-year-old with two five-wicket hauls to his name in as many championship appearances. The son of former Essex bowler Don Topley, Reece made his first-class debut against Cambridge at Fenners in March and is about as raw as 18 ounces of blue steak, but he seems able to extract swing as well as the bounce that comes with his lofty action. Comparisons with Steve Finn and Chris Tremlett are to be expected, though Essex should be wary of exposing such a prospect to the effects of burnout.
Coach and captain
Foster has taken on the armband, such as it is, and there is little doubt that he is the most inspirational of Essex's senior players. At 31, his England chances now appear to have receded terminally, but his nous at this level is invaluable. Paul Grayson remains head coach and he is as enthusiastic and straight-talking as ever. The Yorkshireman seems to recognise that the batting is too frequently of the papier mache variety - whether he can fix that, as a former top-order player himself, is the big question.
Coloured by the dismal start (we're now following-on at Lord's), I'd say a four-day challenge is remote, given the amount of young players likely to make up the bulk of the side. Mid-table consolidation coupled with T20 mastery seems like the best outcome.
Paul Collingwood’s timely retirement from Test cricket gives the batsmen that first opportunity at permanency since Andrew Flintoff’s body decided enough was enough in 2009. Colly was an obdurate (the word “nuggety” will be a lot less used now) test batsman, averaging over 40, typically when the runs were needed most. His bowling was no more than handy at test level (only 17 wickets) but his fielding was outstanding and in the most recent series, probably his greatest asset. So who are the contenders?
Eoin Morgan (Middlesex) Probably the favourite having played against Pakistan last summer when Ian Bell was injured and carrying the drinks in Australia. He did score a century last summer, but that innings accounted for more than half of his runs in his eight innings. Only seven first class tons in nearly 100 innings do not seem the form of a batsman who can go on to play the big innings required at Test level. A critical part of the One Day squad, he is clearly well thought of, but would need to put to rest the perception that he is a one day specialist quickly.
Ravi Bopara (Essex) He had an extended chance before Trott was selected and while he utterly dominant against a poor West Indies team, he was dismantled by Australia in 2009. He is probably the most like for like replacement in that he also bowls handy medium pacers, but is likely to find his niche in the One Day team. Unfortunately, not quite good enough for Test cricket.
James Taylor (Leicestershire) A young man with a very bright future, he was young cricketer of the year in 2009 he scored prolifically for Leicestershire last season and impressed with the England Lions in the winter, second in the batting averages among the recognised batsmen. His time will come, but with his runs mainly having come against Division 2 opposition, he will need to continue to impress at Lions level to press his claim.
James Hildredth (Somerset) The man to beat Taylor in the Lions averages, which he managed while captaining the squad. Hildredth has long been seen as a talented cricketer, but it is only in the last two seasons that he has put the promise into practise, being a vital cog in Somerset’s push for trophies last season. Justin Langer rates him very highly and he is a very strong contender.
Andrew Gale (Yorkshire) Another man who has captained the England Lions and had a successful tour as a player over the winter. Gale took a while to break into the Yorkshire squad, but having done so, he has flourished, particularly as captain. He is a batsman who seems to deliver when it is needed most and the pressures of captaincy have enhanced rather than detracted from his game. Should he be given the chance and take it, he is also a real alternative to Alistair Cook as the next England captain.
Adil Rashid (Yorkshire) A bit more left field this suggestion, and certainly not a like for like replacement. However, with Matt Prior averaging well over 40 in test cricket, there would seem to be little reason to suggest that he could not bat at 6, with Rashid batting at 7 as a bowling allrounder. This would allow England to play with two spinners and with the likes of Broad, Bresnan and Swann, still maintain a strong batting line up.
My choice: The Rashid experiment may need to wait until later in the season. Test cricket in May is not the time to experiment with a new leg-spinner, as Chris Schofield could probably testify. For me, Hildredth just edges it over Gale to be given the first opportunity.
Thursday, 14 April 2011
Friday, 8 April 2011
Somerset look like they might be able to improve on their treble of near misses last year. As well as powerful batting - Trescothick, Hildreth, Kieswetter - they have boosted their bowling attack. Steve Kirby is an astute signing, while overseas spin, in the form of Ajantha Mendis and then Murali Kartik, will get plenty of wickets, especially given that most English batsmen seem allergic to using their feet to spin. And George Dockrell could be an excellent signing too.
In the meantime, here are 10 county players to watch (click the links to read why)-
What are your thoughts on the list? And, indeed predictions for the new season?
Thursday, 7 April 2011
Glamorgan played a high price indeed for his signing. After his appointment, ex-skipper Jamie Dalrymple left the club, director of cricket Matt Maynard resigned and his son, promising young batsman Tom, followed out the door. Even without the winter upheaval, Petersen already faced a tough challenge – joining a new club as captain is notoriously difficult. The best way to stabilise matters will be to make runs. Petersen, who scored a century on his Test debut in India last year, should bring solidity to Glamorgan’s top-order, and will probably bat at three.
Though he has had almost as many attempted comebacks as George Best, Jones is still only 32 and – until his next injury, at least – can still produce terrific spells. That much he proved with some outstanding bowling for Hampshire in the Caribbean Twenty20 tournament. With yorkers, well disguised slower balls and more pace than one would expect considering his injury record, he took 12 wickets at ten apiece, prompting dreams he could again represent England – most likely as a strike bowler in the shorter formats.
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Favourites to go down at the beginning of the season, Yorkshire nearly ended up winning the Championship, being one of three teams still in contention on the final day of the season. The capitulation to Kent when trying to push for a positive result cost in the end, but third place was a good return on the year with a young home-grown (ish) team
On the batting front, it was a standout season for Adam Lyth. Promoted to opener, he scored 1500 runs to beat Rudolph to the top of the averages. Anthony McGrath also topped 1000 runs, while Jonathan Bairstow, in his first full season, and captain Andrew Gale also got close, despite Gale missing matches to captain England Lions.
Adil Rashid topped the bowling list as well as averaging 45 with the bat. Less heralded were Steve Patterson and Oliver Hannon Dalby who took their chances and plenty of wickets while Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad were away with England.
In the One Day competitions, getting to a semi-final in the Clydesdale Bank trophy was almost exclusively down to Rudolph, who scored 755 at nearly 95 opening the batting. He will be missed this year. The less said about the 20:20 campaign the better.
Jacques Rudolph has gone, while Ryan Sidebottom has come back. This obviously strengthens the bowling considerably while weakening the batting. It also means that there is likely to be an all Yorkshire team this season. Joe Root or Joe Sayers (hopefully now fully recovered from illness and injury) are likely to be those to benefit from the additional batting place. However, with Lyth and Gale looking at the vacant place in England’s middle order, the likes of McGrath and Bairstow will also need to step up to the plate to make up the missing runs.
The return of Sidebottom could mean a pace attack of Sidebottom, Bresnan and Shahzad. In reality Bres in particular will not be seen much in Yorkshire this season following his excellent winter with England, which may give a chance to the promising Moin Ashraf. The spin attack also looks strong with Adil Rashid looking for force his way back into England reckoning, with David Wainwright and Azeem Rafiq as back up.
I’d go with
Joe Root, Adam Lyth, Anthony McGrath, Andrew Gale, Jonathan Bairstow (wk), Adil Rashid, Tim Bresnan/ Steve Patterson, Ajmal Shahzad, David Wainwright, Ryan Sidebottom, Oliver Hannon-Dalby
With Joe Sayers and Moin Ashraf in waiting.
With the return of Ryan, Adil Rashid’s runs may be more critical than his wickets this season. However, in the absence of Bresnan, Rashid is the critical part of this team with bat and ball. A standout season could see the Pennant return to Headingly and England working out how they can play him and Swann in the same team.
Over the last three years, Andrew Gale, Adam Lyth and Jonathan Bairstow have established themselves as highly promising batsmen. This year, it is the turn of Joe Root.
Coach and Captain
Same as last year, with Martyn Moxon and Andrew Gale. Gale won a lot of plaudits for his captaincy as well as his batting last year. He's a strong contender for Paul Collingwood's spot in England's middle order and it's not beyond the realms of possiblity that he could be England's next captain.
Yorkshire, Durham, Somerset and Nottinghamshire will be the top 4 in the Championship in some order. I don’t expect any excitement in the shorter form of the game though!
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Please sign it here - and spread the word if you can.
An inevitable pick. Tendulkar batted as well as he did in the 1996 World Cup, when he was top scorer. He was 18 runs off being so in 2011, and his centuries against England and South Africa were both magisterial, showing how devastating orthodox batting can still be in ODIs. It’s unlikely he will play in 2015 – but not completely preposterous either.
Though there was barely a Dilscoop in sight, Dilshan consistently got Sri Lanka off to brilliant starts, scoring two centuries and a disciplined 73 in the semi-final. No one scored more runs than his 500, and there were also eight wickets with his canny offspin, including a spectacular caught-and-bowled in the final.
Certainly not a fashionable selection, but Trott was simply the most consistent batsman in the tournament. In six of his seven innings he managed at least 47, unobtrusively accumulating at the formidable average of 60. To those who deride him for being too slow, it’s worth pointing out that Trott’s strike rate was 80, eight more than those of Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis.
Sangakkara averaged 93 with the bat; always a model of calm at the crease, his off-drive is one of the finest sights in cricket today. He also kept well and captained intelligently, utilising his spinners to suffocate England and New Zealand in the quarter and semi-finals, and would have hugely deserved to be a World Cup winner.
AB de Villiers
It was de Villiers’ run out in the quarter-final that had everyone mentioning South Africa’s history of chokes. He batted so serenely all tournament, able to change tempo at will, that all looked well with him at the crease. De Villiers hit two centuries and a 39-ball 52 in the win against India, combining finesse with six-hitting ability, as well as fielding with his trademark vivacity and athleticism.
It’s remarkable to think he was dropped less than a year ago, seen as unfit and unfocused. Yuvraj was deservedly named man of the tournament. With the bat, he was explosive yet possessed a calm it has often lacked, as a tournament average of 90 proved. As India’s fifth bowler, he was terrific, bowling his left-arm spin with control to claim 15 wickets.
MS Dhoni (wicket-keeper, captain)
Dhoni’s nerveless 91* was one of the greatest innings ever seen in a World Cup final. While he played big shots, these were done with selectivity and an absence of risk. Winning the man of the match award in the final was reward for leading India superbly throughout, shuffling his bowling intelligently and being more willing than most skippers to keep slips in during the middle overs.s
No one knows quite was happened to the batting but as a pure spin-bowler Afridi was the tournament’s best. His top spinners were consistently hard to dominate, while he surprised batsman with quicker balls and occasional googlies. In total he claimed 21 wickets at fewer than 13 apiece. He also proved a good leader of Pakistan, with players seeming to genuinely enjoy playing under him.
Few expected New Zealand to make the semi-finals; that they did was in large part down to Southee, who provided the wicket-taking threat his side have lacked since Shane Bond’s retirement. With good pace, late swing and a useful bouncer, Southee claimed 18 wickets. The 2015 tournament will be in New Zealand; Southee will be 26 then and should cause great damage.
India were nothing like as formidable with the ball as with the bat, making Zaheer’s performance critical. He rose to the challenge magnificently, bowling with subtle variations – including a bare-knuckle slower ball that dismissed Mike Hussey – and great skill from both over and round the wicket. Zaheer relished bowling during powerplays, and his match-turning yorker to Andrew Strauss was a contender for ball of the tournament.
Steyn’s spell to transform the game against India – five wickets for four runs in 2.4 overs – was the product of one of the game’s most lethal Yorkers, which were lethal throughout the tournament. He is also a thinking bowler – more so than he sometimes gets credit for – and used slower balls and bouncers with selectivity to thrive on the subcontinental tracks. Steyn’s twelve wickets cost just 16 apiece, with a parsimonious economy rate (4.15) too.
Twelfth man: Ray Price
A surprising pick, but Price was outstanding for Zimbabwe, going for just 3.44 runs an over during the six games, as well as claiming nine wickets. His guile means he is well-suited to bowling his left-arm spin during the powerplays, as was illustrated with 2/21 against Pakistan. Price’s facial expressions after deliveries also never failed to provide humour.
See how it compares with our XI of the last World Cup.
However, where the ICC have got something right is that the tournament needed changing. The tournament goes on for far too long, there are still too many games and until something more positive is done to help the likes of Kenya and Canada, too many of the games involving the Associate teams were non-contests. Given the current spirit of “We’re all in this together”, here is my format for the next World Cup.
Number of teams: 12
The eight quarter finalists from the 2011 tournament qualify automatically. The other four have to compete against other interested nations to qualify. In future years, nine teams will qualify from the previous tournament Teams to be split into two groups of 6 playing round robin. The top four teams go into quarter finals. The other two teams go into a play off.
Two games per day. This gives 15 days for the first round of matches, but allows for 3 weekends of play.
The two play off matches between teams 5 and 6 in each group come before the quarter finals, filling the off days.
One quarter final per day(Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Play off final for a place in the next World Cup on the following Tuesday
Semi finals Wednesday and Thursday
Final on the Sunday
This gives us a tournament in four weeks, gives the best teams the best chance of winning the tournament but also gives the developing teams something to play for all the way through the tournament. More importantly, it means that the World Cup is not a closed shop for the established teams, but other countries get the chance to play on the biggest stage.
There is simply no justification for the decision. Cricket should be allowed to grow in the countries that have shown progress - none more so than Ireland. Imagine, if you will, how well Ireland could have done with their best player - Eoin Morgan - not taken away from them by England?
Instead, the associates have effectively been told they are wasting their time trying to improve in the longer formats of the game. The message from the ICC is that they should stick to Twenty20 - made into a 16-team tournament in the most futile of gestures. Just when Ireland and a few others - most notably Afghanistan (who would have qualified for this tournament had the qualification process not been concluded two years ago, and almost certainly given a better representation of the minnows than Kenya and Canada, another mistake on the ICC's part)- seemed on the cusp of genuine progress, they have been told it's all a waste of time.
Instead we will witness a 10-team round robin, which will actually be more shorn of drama than this World Cup. Unless they improve a great deal, we will have to witness Bangladesh, ZImbabwe and even the West Indies being continually thrashed. A different format with more teams would actually have reduced the number of games between the best and those outside the top eight.
Today is indeed a dark day for the game, just as the Irish are proclaiming. As an interesting aside, I'd be fascinated to see the TV ratings for the games this tournament. Fans love underdogs and upsets, and I'd wager that Ireland's victory over England, as well as the Netherlands' game with England, pulled in significantly more than, say, New Zealand's game against Zimbabwe. It may actually be that, in limiting the tournament to ten and creating no scope for any sort of fairytale qualification (such as Afghanistan's to the last World Twenty20) the ICC are actually reducing the commercial value of their product - and how apt that would be.
William Porterfield was right when he said the 2015 tournament will now be nothing more than a "glorified Champions Trophy". It will be much the poorer for that.
Tell the ICC what you think - email firstname.lastname@example.org or complain on their twitter account. The Cricket With Balls campaign against the decision can be found here.
Monday, 4 April 2011
The pre-tournament favourites proved triumphant, their batting strength simply proving overwhelming, even when their two star batsmen made a combined 18 runs in the final. Sachin Tendulkar scored more runs than any other Indian by a distance, but this side does not lean on him as previous ones did. India’s bowling and fielding were considerably weaker, but the excellence of Zaheer Khan, aided by Yuvraj Singh’s surprising 15 wickets, prevented this from costing India. They were highly worthy winners.
Hard to look beyond Tendulkar, but Yuvraj’s performances were so brilliant you have to. He averaged 90 with the bat, with four half-centuries, including a match-winning one against Australia, and a century against Australia. Yuvraj’s bowling was almost as important, and his two-wicket hauls in the last three games, prevented the lack of five bowlers from hindering India.
Yusuf Pathan entered the tournament amid much hype, having just hit a 70-ball 105, with eight sixes, against South Africa. But his power lacked any selectivity in the World Cup. An average of less than 15 before being dropped was the miserable result.
Gary Kirsten will be hard to replace as coach, but with MS Dhoni so formidable as a captain, expect good results for India to continue. They will need to be sagacious managing the workloads of players, something they have done superbly with Tendulkar of late.
Brilliant top-order batting and an array of bowling options that always threatened meant few were surprised by their run to the final. Had Muttiah Muralitharan been fully fit, they may have won. Still they have much to be proud of, led by an opening pair that twice added more than 200. Kumar Sangakkara was exceptional as skipper, Lasith Malinga always exhilarating to watch.
Though several excelled, it’s hard to look past Tillakaratne Dilshan. His explosive batting earned 500 runs – more than anyone else in this World Cup – while he also chipped in with eight wickets with his canny off-spin.
Hard to pick one, but Chamara Silva was never fluent with the bat, and was dropped for the final.
Several spinners will aim to be the ‘new Murali’, with Ajantha Mendis, omitted for the final, perhaps the most promising. With Dilshan, Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena all at least 33, new batsmen are probably an even bigger priority. They are also looking for a new coach.
Kemar Roach showed himself to be a genuinely incisive quick, and claimed 13 wickets – but he needed more support.
Sarwan and Chanderpaul failing to manage a 50 in 11 innings between them, utterly lacking in any fluency.
They look a better-balanced side without skipper Darren Sammy – Andre Russell is a similar player but superior with bat and ball – so his position may come under threat. Coach Ottis Gibson has promised big chances after the quarter-final humiliation, and this side does have better players than the performances suggest. Vivacious all-rounder Dwayne Bravo will be key on his return.
Hosting World Cup games for the first time, Bangladesh recorded a memorable win over England – but were bowled out for 58 and 78 either side of that game. As that stat makes apparent, their batting retains a penchant for spectacular implosion. Their array of spinners were hard to get away, but they too seldom possessed wicket-taking venom. Many expected Bangladesh to reach the quarter-finals, and they were a disappointment, even if the England win was amongst the most memorable in their history.
Shafiul Islam was unheralded before the tournament, but proved Bangladesh’s biggest match-winner. A brilliant spell of 4/21 secured a tight win over Ireland before he belied any batting degree to loot 24* against England. But his performances were woeful in Bangladesh’s three defeats.
Tamim Iqbal has been called the ‘Bangladeshi Sehwag’. He sparkled intermittently, but an average of 26 was extremely disappointing. His first-over dismissal against the West Indies precipitated the lowest score of the entire tournament.
Should continue to improve, albeit not at the rate the ICC would hope after all they have invested there. Their batting needs more to learn more discipline, but that has been said for the last decade.
Did as well as could reasonably have been expected. Canada beat Kenya convincingly – the only game they were expected to compete in – and reached 150-2 in the 29th over against Australia, as well as bowling Pakistan out for 184. In Ashish Bagai and Jimmy Hansra, they had a pair of fluent stroke-makers, while Harvir Baidwan’s seamers and Balaji Rao’s leg-spin were a threat.
Stylish and never overawed, Ashish Bagai took them to victory over Kenya, and then scored a commanding 84 at almost a-run-a-ball against New Zealand. He also kept wicket with great skill.
John Davison clubbed a brilliant 111 against the West Indies in the 2003 World Cup but, at 40, could barely muster a run.
Cricket needs to expand beyond the expat communities in Canada, and some respectable displays may have helped to do that. There are real plans to spread the sport in Canada, but it will be no easy task, especially as this could be their last ever appearance at a 50-over World Cup.
A plain side, batting and bowling with orthodoxy, England were nevertheless
described as the tournament’s entertainers, and that is what they were. England produced a series of enthralling games in the group stages and, in conspiring to lose to Ireland and Bangladesh, helped to preserve interests in the tournament. But their thrilling run ended with an ignominious 10-wicket defeat in the quarter-final, with a depleted bowling attack lacking in threat. In the final analysis, a lack of power in the batting and the absence of good spin options to complement Graeme Swann were hurdles they couldn’t have overcome even had they had the best preparation in the world.
He seldom oozes star quality, but Jonathan Trott produced a tour de force, with 422 runs at 60, and, though you wouldn’t know it, a strike-rate of 80. Critics of him should acknowledge he played his role brilliantly, but was let down by a lack of support.
Jimmy Anderson’s role in the Ashes win isn’t about to be forgotten but he lacked any control in this tournament. By the end, even his captain was saying he was burned out.
Andrew Strauss is likely to resign as one-day skipper. His successor will find a side well-suited to English conditions but in need of more oomph with the bat and variation with the ball.
How far they have slipped since reaching the semi-finals in 2003. Kenya were the worst side in the tournament, the side damaged by factionalism as well as an absence of skill. Getting bowled out for 69 in their tournament opener was a start they never threatened to recover from.
Collins Obuya deserved a century against Australia but was left stranded on 98*. He handled Tait, Lee and Johnson with the assurance of a Test player, and scored 243 runs in the tournament, 110 more than the next most for his side.
Having scored 74 against South Africa in only his fourth ODI, Seren Waters, who is part of the set-up at Surrey, was viewed as Kenyan cricket’s great hope. He still is, but managed only 38 runs in four innings before being dropped.
Given how far they’ve slipped, they may not even qualify for the 16-team World Twenty20 next year. The board have announced a review into their World Cup, which at least acknowledges all is not well with Kenyan cricket.
Began the tournament so well against England, but that proved their high point. Thereafter they struggled, twice losing by over 200 runs, with the side overly reliant on Ryan ten Doeschate. The bowling was a real problem, though left-arm spinner Pieter Selar has promise. In the final game of the tournament, Ireland overhauled their total of 306 with absolute ease.
Ten Doeschate came into the tournament with a reputation as the best associate player in the world, and, with a century that fused brawn and finesse against England, he quickly went about justifying it. He later scored a 50 against Bangladesh and another century against Ireland, as well as bowling usefully.
Alexei Kervezee is a regular for Worcestershire, with an array of classy shots. He was expected to back up ten Doeschate, but the 21-year-old seemed overwhelmed, averaging only 13.
Cricket remains a minority sport in the Netherlands and that isn’t about to change. A few more ODIs and Twenty20s against the big sides, and regular appearances at World Twenty20s, is probably the summit of their ambition.
With their array of spinners, Zimbabwe had realistic hopes of achieving an upset, probably against New Zealand. In the event their batting folded against the Kiwis, who raced to a 10-wicket win. It was much the same throughout, with Brendan Taylor’s clean-hitting 80 against Sri Lanka the exception. The bowling was a little better, albeit over-reliant on Ray Price. That Ireland did markedly better in a tougher group told its own story.
Ray Price is renowned for his on-field theatrics, but he is also a left-arm spinner of great guile. Adept opening the bowling or operating in the middle overs, he claimed nine wickets whilst going for only 3.44 an over.
Skipper Elton Chigumbura has a reputation as a big hitter, but he averaged less than 20, while his bowling went for over seven an over. The stats suggest the captaincy has reduced his effectiveness.
Their return to Test cricket this year could be painful if their World Cup performances are a good guide. With batting prone to collapsing and an abject shortage of quick bowling they need to entice players like Sean Ervine, who has chosen Hampshire over his country, back to protect their competitiveness.
The cliché that South Africa always choke in World Cups was given new credence by their spectacular implosion against New Zealand. In topping their group ahead of India, South Africa showed they possessed a range of wicket-taking options they have not always possessed, with Imran Tahir exceptional. The batting, led by AB de Villiers, was also powerful. Yet they were ultimately exposed by a weak lower middle-order, with Johan Botha (ODI average of 19) never good enough to be a number seven.
It could have been de Villiers, Tahir or even Robin Petersen, but Dale Steyn showed his class again. His bowling against India, when he claimed five wickets, part of a total of 12, to trigger a collapse of 9/29, showed off the brilliance of his yorkers.
Outgoing captain Graeme Smith failed to score a half-century in the tournament, suggesting he may find it hard to continue to merit a place in the ODI side.
They remain an excellent side in all three formats, but the c word will remain their biggest nemesis. Need some allrounders – Albie Morkel, perhaps? – to ensure they bat deeper. In search of a new coach too, Gary Kirsten would do very nicely.
An honourable semi-final defeat was better than many had expected of Pakistan – and if they hadn’t given Sachin Tendulkar so many lives, they could well have made the final. Key to their success was their varied bowling attack, with Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul superb until the semi-final. But their batting always looked prone to collapse.
Shahid Afridi finished as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, the subtle variations and accuracy of his leg breaks claiming 21 scalps in just eight games. But don’t mention the batting.
It was hoped that 19-year old Ahmed Shezhad would bring much-needed solidity to the top order. Instead he managed 44 runs in five innings.
Invariably hard to assess. If they can shore up their top order they will become even more dangerous but, with Younis Khan and Misbah ul-Haq nearing the end, it could get even worse.
Bowling coach Allan Donald’s praise – that Tim Southee “could become the best swing bowler in world cricket” is understandable. With late movement allied to pace, Southee was never short of wicket-taking venom, taking 18 wickets at an average of 17, including 3/25 against Pakistan.
Opening the batting, McCullum was too often guilty of injudicious shot selection, failing to pass 16 in five innings against quarter-final qualifiers.
The wily John Wright has already made a difference as coach. Though Vettori has quite as ODI captain, with Taylor the likely replacement, New Zealand will be optimistic about continuing their improvement, especially if Southee, Ryder and Kane Williamson develop.
Sunday, 3 April 2011
Continuing our tournament reviews, here is an assessment of how Australia did.
Their 34-game unbeaten run in World Cups was ended by
Brett Lee, 34 but as ebullient as ever, claimed 11 wickets, including 4/28 against
Cameron White has a reputation for late-order destructiveness, so a tournament average of 17 proved a major hindrance for his side.
They now have a new captain in Michael Clarke; don’t expect their rut to go on too long. Never seem short of batsmen, but their one-day bowling will suffer after Shaun Tait’s decision to only play Twenty20, especially with Lee ageing. Need a spinner from somewhere.
Beginning our assessment of how each of the 14 teams fared in the World Cup, this is the verdict on Ireland.
Ireland's remarkable victory against
With flight, guile and unrelenting accuracy, George Dockrell claimed 2/23 against Bangaldesh and two more wickets, including Sachin Tendulkar, against
Paul Stirling hit a spectacular 72-ball 102 against the
Proved they are the best associate – and they showed themselves a better side than