Maybe I’m a little late on the whole cricket wagon, but honestly, can you blame me? I and many others have just been deflated with the amount of cricket we even try to follow. I’ve never really been a fan of the shortest format of the game, in fact to me it’s more of a video game, where players like Shane Watson ,whose attributes are near perfect, is the penultimate showdown. Now many may love the format, for the excitement, for the fact that it allows you to punt and throw a little money on, and maybe some are eager for boundaries not for your teams score to increase, but another view at those wonderfully ‘talented’ beauties on stages.
But this is the real deal isn’t it? It is a World Cup of sorts. Something’s got to give. The traditionalist in me still hopes for good cricket, the dot ball, the lovely footwork and the hope that I may find a few glorious innings, so I have had to do with watching the games knowing that well, it’s the IPL for countries. Do I enjoy it? Ahh…
But at least the super eights bring this level of competition in. The ridiculous format was exposed earlier on, but now it is ‘do or die’
Now, group 1.
Host Sri Lanka, have to be favorites in my opinion. Home conditions always increase expectations, but they’ve got the talent to back it up. The likes of Dilshan and Malinga are short format specialists. Dilshan was happy that he will go down in history for inventing the ‘Dilscoop’ and why not! A horrendously dangerous shot to play, but if you aren’t too worried about the possibility of a damaged head, then it’s a safe shot. From my experience, never though Dilshan really played one anyway. The aggression of the Lankan is evident and a good start to the innings will surely take the hosts far. Malinga, the adopted, Mumbai Indian, is probably the deadliest T20 bowler. His wicked change of pace and penchant to hit a batsmans shoe makes him a worthy weapon. The more statesmen like Jaya and Sanga, will add the much need solidity and maturity to the relatively young hosts.
My favourites of the group though are the erratic West Indians. With all the internal problems of the board, this bunch still seems very Calypso. The smooth talking and spicy bite, comes with an animal called Chris Gayle, who with his 2.5 kilo bat isn’t fair on the health of any bowler. The combination of Darren Samy’s men and the form of the likes of Pollard, Bravo and mystery man, Naraine will be crucial to the West Indans.
England. I wish I could just end the sentence there, but I need to justice to the royals don’t i? A summer of scrappy performances ending with the KP saga doesn’t hold to well for the men from the channel. If I was one of them, I’d bring KP back, no questions asked. Some talents and ego’s need to be nursed. Period. If there is one world class fearless talent it has to be him. Wish they could sort these issues before they flew to Sri Lanka, because its shame for the world not to have KP on display. Controversy aside, the team has a solid bowling unit with the likes of Broad and Finn and the quality of Swann. Where they will face a problem is their suspect batting line-up. And please, nobody dare claim that the likes Bairstow and Luke Wright or even Eoin Morgan will help retain their title.
To be fairly honest, I never know what to comment on the Kiwis. Always the underdogs, they scrape through matches, but hopefully the veteran Vettori and the brute force of McCullum and Ryder can change the nature of the group.
Group 2: The slightly less fortunate group.
A talented pool, group 2 showcases the who’s who of world cricket. A fantasy playground and some wonderful talent. Unfortunately only two teams make it through to the semi’s
The mighty Australians. Yes, I said mighty, and the reason I do so, is purely because no one can ever count them out no matter what their ranking might be. True fighters, the men from down under have been convincing through the tournaments and already look favourites for the title. Just ask India who were embarrassed in the first super eight game. Boasting the hard-hitting of Warner and Watson (the two men, who could easily replace the Gabbar stories we use to scare children) are like jail break convicts. Taming either of these talents will be a huge task. Some have claimed the batting is rather top-heavy, but no one says, if the top strikes, no one bothers about whats below. Adding solidity to this deadly duo is ‘Mr.Cricket’ (or rather the Australian Rahul Dravid) Mike Hussey. Slate him all you may, the man keeps coming back for more and silencing his critics. The side has good balance with bowlers like Starc and Cummings, two young quicks who are currently on the leaderboard for most wickets taken.
What happens to us, when food gets stuck in our throats and we struggle to breathe, get a grip on life. We South Africa. Chokers, and rightly so, the Wallabies have never won an ICC tournament, and as I write this article, theyre already staring at exit from another one. Currently ranked 1st in all formats of the game, a team featuring the likes of Amla, ABD, Kallis and bowling novelty of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel should have been favourites for the tournament. Ability is nothing without steady nerve and resolve, and unfortunately the Africans might have lived up to their nick names again
Pakistan yet again failed to beat India in a World Cup match, I’m glad we’ve got the jimmy on them really. Not because I have ill feelings being an Indian, but I love the banter and the aggressiveness of this particular tie. History or not, the game is on edge and your sure to throw in foul language and rude references but whose complaining? Both teams are extremely exciting and equally erratic. Having won a game each, both face ‘do or die’ games. While India have a deep batting line-up full of world class stars and the unlucky/stupid(however you look at it) Rohit Sharma, Pakistan have the ideal T20 bowling line-up. Saeed Ajmal is arguable the best spinner in world cricket today, while Shahid Afridi was the leading wicket taker at the World Cup. Team balance will be crucial to both arch-rivals.
So now, having spilled over a 1000 words I think I’m definitely excited. Bring on the warm Srilankan atmosphere, the sticky pitches and the beautiful cheerleaders…….
Or can we just look forward to big hits, smart bowling and aggressive cricket over next week. Whatever your ingredients the tournament will surely cause chills and spills and hopefully give your evenings some much needed excitement. Will it be the mighty Aussies? The hosts? Or are we still BLEEDING BLUE