Sunday, 15 April 2007

Of Nor'easters, Irish Upsets, South African Chokers and Salvaging the World Cup

As I write, the nor’easter that has been pounding the East coast is still raging outside. I just watched the news and there has been record rainfall, flooding, damage, cancelled flights and trains and chaos in general.

I was watching the cricket this morning when I got a call. It was one of my sisters in Barbados. She was at Kensington Oval and asked me if I had just seen her on tv! The organisers were forced into making admission free today in light of the consistently poor sales and attendance at all the matches this World Cup and so two of my sisters took advantage of the “freeness” and took their kids. Unfortunately she seemed to have been on tv just when I had stepped into the kitchen to grab some breakfast. I guess they took the kids for the experience and to give them something to do. Hopefully it stimulates some interest in the little ones. They seem to be much more engrossed in playstation and cartoons! However, if I was in Barbados, there was no way I would have gone, even if they had paid me! Besides the actual play on the field, the World Cup has largely been a flop. There are a few main reasons and there are quite a few people who are to blame. They are now trying to salvage something from the tournament by giving away tickets and relaxing the regulations which had taken the Caribbean element out of the venues and deterred fans. I feel insulted by all of this and if I was there, there is no way that I would have dignified them by attending.

In the battle of the giant killers today, Ireland came out on top, convincingly dismissing the inconsistent Bangladeshis. While Ireland has had a hard time in the Super Eights, Bangladesh has been hot and cold. Whippings by New Zealand and Australia were followed by a win against South Africa and a close lost against England. Even if winning consistently against top teams is too much to ask of the Tigers, they should have won today. Instead they played like an Associate team while Ireland performed like a team of seasoned professionals. From the time the Irish captain took the bold decision to bat first so as to negate the threat of Bangladesh’s left-arm spinning trio, they dominated the game and thoroughly deserved their victory.

The World Cup has had its fair share of highs and lows (for us West Indian fans, largely lows) but as the Super Eights has progressed, it has become much more interesting. The results from the last few games mean that the match between England and South Africa on Tuesday assumes quarter-finals proportions. Speaking of South Africa, they continuously justify their tag as the perennial chokers of international cricket. They came into the World Cup as the number one ranked team in one day internationals, but have suddenly began to look very ordinary. They almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Sri Lanka, lost to Bangladesh and put in a dismal performance yesterday against New Zealand. South Africa is not one of the teams I like, but at this point I am supporting anyone who may somehow halt the Aussies. When the South Africans returned to international cricket after their ban was lifted, they were right there at the top of the list of teams I dislike. A post-apartheid South African team still full of players from the white minority was a definite no for me! I did feel sorry for them in 1999 when they somehow managed to lose to Australia in the semis, but not when they botched up the Duckworth/Lewis calculations in 2003 and had to exit in the first round. As their team has become a bit more diversified (it still doesn’t reflect the country’s racial composition) I have somewhat thawed towards them, although their captain Graeme Smith remains one of the biggest whingers in cricket!

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