Sri Lanka completely dismantled the New Zealanders today to reach their second World Cup final. It was an outstanding performance and they dominated from the time they won the toss and decided to bat. Any attempts by New Zealand to fight back were strongly resisted and the captain led from the front with a perfect example of how to pace a one day international innings. He followed that up with some excellent captaincy, reflected by his decision to bowl Dilshan when New Zealand was trying to wrestle control after the loss of two wickets. Besides Jayawardene’s performance, that of the umpires and in particular Rudy Koertzen stood out but for differing reasons. Two extremely poor decisions went against the Sri Lankans when they were batting and I find it hard to believe that two top umpires can make such huge mistakes. Koertzen added to his howler in Sri Lanka’s innings by denying them an extremely close LBW call and then singling out Fernando for shocking treatment. To warn a bowler twice in his first over for running onto the pitch without speaking to him before was a bit harsh and I felt that New Zealand was playing with 12 men on their side today! While Fernando had a bad day at the office, the rest of Sri Lanka's varied attack all did well. Vaas bowled his normal line and length, Malinga was fiery and Muralitharan hiw wily self; will this bowling attack be enough to stop the Aussies in the finals? I am assuming that they will beat South Africa tomorrow although I would so love to be wrong!
While the Sri Lankans celebrate, West Indies cricket continues its downward spiral. Lara’s retirement was followed by the resignation of the coach Bennett King and rumours that the WICB President, Ken Gordon, had also resigned. Ken Gordon has since stated that he has not resigned but there has been confusion over the selection of the team to tour England, with Gordon, in response to Lara’s comments in his press conference that he had met with selectors to select the team to England and had selected himself, claiming that the selectors did not meet to select a team. To add to all of this, the WICB and WIPA are locked in another battle; this time it is over the WICB seemingly going back on its agreement with WIPA on the status of the England tour in relation to the ICC’s Future Tours Programme.
Amongst all of this, Ian Bradshaw has announced his retirement. Bradshaw may not be the most naturally gifted player in the team, but he has made the most of his abilities, is a thinking cricketer and has shown total commitment to the West Indies. The West Indies waited until Ridley Jacobs was in his 30s before deciding to select him and it is obvious that they did not learn from that situation for they waited until Bradshaw was 30 before handing him a maroon cap. All manner of undisciplined, uncommitted players were given a chance but Bradshaw, a shining example of hard work, discipline and civilised behaviour was kept out. When he was finally given the chance he performed admirably. Unfortunately his form dipped in this World Cup and he only played three matches. West Indies needs many more players with his attitude.
So what does the future hold for our cricket? I am, to be honest, pessimistic. The WICB cabal/politburo has stubbornly resisted any type of meaningful reform and continues to function almost like a secret society. Unless there is a revolution in the way the game is run in the region, our cricket will fail to lift itself from the lowest ground it has now reached. Rawle Brancker was supposed to deliver the Sir Frank Worrell Lecture tonight on the topic of the WICB. I am looking forward to hearing what he said.