2019 CWC: The good, the bad and the terrible

In one of my earlier columns at the start of the 2019 Cricket World Cup (CWC) I expressed the wish for seven weeks of unadulterated cricket enjoyment.  From Imran Tahir’s first over at the Oval to the Lord’s final’s manic ending, that wish came true (mostly). What was good about the 2019 CWC? The International Cricket Council (ICC) has nailed it with the 10-team format. There were no easy matches and the tournament stayed alive until the last few games of the group stages.  The two teams that had to qualify to get to the CWC, the West Indies and Afghanistan, ended 9 & 10.  Coincidence or not? The contest between bat and ball was far fairer than we’ve come to see in most ODI’s since the 2015 CWC. The high-scoring England-Pakistan series before the World Cup made 350 to 400 seem like the par scores, but scores around 250 … Continue reading

Cricket World Cup a great advert for the game

The Cricket World Cup (CWC) culminates with the final at Lord’s on Sunday and from an English point it could be the dream day. England plays New Zealand and if England win their first ever CWC at the home of cricket, it will be a great day in the long, rich history of English cricket. The CWC has been an outstanding success in England with regard to the standard and competitive nature of the matches. All the matches have been competitive and there have been no easy ones. For example, India finished top of the log after the pool stages and only beat Afghanistan, who ended bottom of the log, by 11 runs. The International Cricket Council made a wise decision to cut the teams back to ten. They have for years wasted time and resources in trying to promote the international game on the global stage. The Associate members … Continue reading

There could be better options…

Here are two current South African teams, Team A and Team B (for want of originality): Team A: Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada & Imran Tahir. Team B: Heino Kuhn, Stiaan van Zyl, Colin Ingram, Rilee Rossouw, Dane Vilas, Wayne Parnell, David Wiese, Simon Harmer, Kyle Abbott, Marchant de Lange & Duanne Olivier. In a head to head clash, on which team would you put your money?  On current form, none of Team A’s batsmen is to be feared.  They do have a decent bowling attack though.  Team B’s tail is a little long (so you could also consider Colin Ackermann or Richard Levi), but they have a great bowling line-up.  I would bet on Team B. By now you’ve probably figured out that Team A is the Proteas team that … Continue reading

Five reasons why the Proteas have imploded

The Proteas have experienced by far their worst Cricket World Cup (CWC) since their debut in 1992. They have always been one of the top contenders and have been labelled chokers because they could never win this prestigious cricket tournament. The current team has imploded and in reality exited the tournament with three games to go before the semi-finals. In real terms the tournament has been a disaster for cricket in South Africa. The reason for this disaster is all based on poor team selection and the selectors need to be held accountable for the situation. There are five players who should never have been on the plane to England. The first is Dale Steyn. He has been one of the greats of South African and world cricket, but he has carried injuries for the last three years. The selectors should have known that his body could not be trusted … Continue reading

Is the ICC serious about the World Cup?

Four weeks ago, just before the start of the Cricket World Cup (CWC), I expressed my excitement at looking forward to seven weeks of cricket enjoyment.  It wasn’t said tongue in cheek or facetiously; I meant it. However, three weeks into the tournament, a few nasty things have reared their heads making me wonder if the International Cricket Council (ICC) is serious about the future of the CWC.  It may not seem so to the average fan or casual observer, but the signs are there. Firstly, the CWC is scheduled to favour India because to the ICC money – that is Indian money – talks.  The CWC is a round robin format, with all ten teams playing each other before the four top teams progress to the semi-finals.  If India doesn’t qualify for the semi-finals, a lot of money will be lost (as it happened in 2007 when India exited … Continue reading

Spin bowling reborn in modern day cricket

There was a time during the decades from the 60’s to the 80’s when it was believed that spin bowling had no future in cricket. The game was based around fast and medium pace bowlers, with spinners only being used occasionally for a change of pace or to bowl while the fast bowlers were being rested. This all changed with the arrival of Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, who between them took 2,348 international wickets. They were strike bowlers and won matches for their countries. They were the best spin bowlers in the history of international cricket. They not only saved the art of spin bowling, but showed what a force quality spin could be in world cricket in all forms of the game. The arrival of T20 cricket further enhanced spin bowling as almost all teams play with at least two spinners. The same policy now applies to ODIs … Continue reading

What now, Proteas?

Played three, lost three.  It is officially South Africa’s worst start ever to a Cricket World Cup (CWC). The Proteas were comprehensively swept aside by England and India in matches one and three respectively.  They put up a better fight against Bangladesh, but were ultimately still easily beaten by 21 runs.  (Perhaps the most telling statistic from that match:  The Tigers’ 330/6 was their highest total ever in the 363 ODI’s they have played to date, including matches against minnows like Bermuda, Canada, Hong Kong and Kenya!) Six matches remain for South Africa in the preliminary rounds. Mathematically they can still reach the semi-finals, but to do that they need an unlikely six wins out of six.  Maybe a team can sneak into the play-offs with five wins.  But how plausible are even five wins from their remaining six fixtures: West Indies, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia? … Continue reading

Cricket World Cup XII underway

By the time this column is posted, the 12th Cricket World Cup (CWC) will have started when the hosts, England, play South Africa at the Oval in the opening match. Since the first CWC in England in 1975, only five countries have ever won the CWC: Australia (5), India (2), West Indies (2), and Pakistan and Sri Lanka once each. The opening match will be crucial for both England and South Africa for different reasons. England is the hot favourites to win their first CWC and will want to start well to justify the pole position they enjoy. South Africa on the other hand is starting the tournament with no expectations on them to win it. They will want to show that they are capable of competing and upsetting the old foe. For the first time since 1992 the Proteas start the CWC as just another team compared to their … Continue reading

Let the games begin!

There is always something special about cricket in England.  It’s the birthplace of the world’s second most popular team sport and despite what whoever thinks, Lord’s in London in still the game’s spiritual home.  Whether it’s village cricket, county cricket, the Ashes or a day at Lord’s, cricket, summer and England are synonyms. A week from now the biggest spectacle in cricket, the four-yearly Cricket World Cup, returns to its birthplace.  Millions of tourists will flock to England to attend the 48 matches played at eleven different venues.  Many of them will no doubt make use of the opportunity to also do some sightseeing. I recently discovered an England travel guidebook from 1955, “Here’s England” written by Ruth McKenney and Richard Bransten.  It’s a sort of Lonely Planet guide 1950’s style.  To my surprise and delight, the book had an entire chapter devoted to cricket!  Although the book is firmly … Continue reading

Indian Premier League world class tournament

The Indian Premier League (IPL) rates with all the great tournaments in the world of sport, like the English Premiership and EUFA Champions League. It is without doubt the biggest event in the cricketing world, bigger than the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes. The IPL has taken the profile of cricket to a new level and made it a truly global game. The 2019 IPL was a fantastic tournament with great matches, sold out stadiums and a dream final. The two teams that played in the final, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, provided one of the great IPL finals with Mumbai Indians winning by 1 run. These two teams have dominated the IPL in its twelve years’ existence and have collectively won the tournament on seven occasions. Mumbai Indians have won four IPL’s and Chennai Super Kings three. Kolkata Knight Riders have won the IPL on two occasions. … Continue reading