You know what? We knew this. We intimated as much this morning. This South African team hasn’t choked, it just isn’t really all that good. This particular XI had a couple of good batsmen and no bowlers. You don’t win much with a line-up like that.
You may point out that 80-8 is particularly bad. It is, but it’s not a choke. A choke is throwing away a winning position. This was a mediocre team failing to hit its own reasonably low standards and sort of rolling slowly downhill towards defeat as a consequence.
Look at it this way: this was a batting line-up which had Robin Peterson at three, even though he only has one fifty in 72 one-day internationals. Peterson came up against James Anderson on a day when the ball swung. With that in mind, his 30 was the overperformance of the day.
Several England players performed well, but whoever they face in the final will present a far bigger challenge. As will the rain.6 Appeals
This seems to be a common assessment at the minute, but it’s a bit unfair. They’re more polarised, polarised England – steady upper order batting and then the three dementos at five, six and seven.
Admittedly, two of the dementos – Morgan and Buttler – have mostly failed in this tournament, but no-one has hit more sixes than Ravi Bopara. Add James Anderson’s wicket-taking and England are a reasonably watchable side providing you miss the first half of their innings.
There seems to be some debate as to whether Graeme Swann is actually injured or whether it’s just a face-saving excuse for dropping him. If it’s the latter, a dry Oval pitch might give rise to rapid rehabilitation. Let’s see if both he and Tredwell play.
If we’re evaluating boring teams, South Africa surely score quite well. Take out Amla and De Villiers and the batting seems to lack something, but not as much as the bowling lacks should Steyn be deemed unfit to play.
If you’re a neutral, look at it this way: should England win, the commentators will have more to talk about during the final’s long rain delays than if South Africa were to get through.23 Appeals
It’s funny how you can rely on the guys who’ve played 300-and-odd one-day internationals in these major tournaments. And by ‘funny’ we of course mean ‘predictable’.
Mahela Jayawardene has played so many one-dayers that his average (33.40) is meaningless. What you actually need to do is split his career into several manageable sized careers in order to be able to compare him to others. His efforts span so many rule changes and so many different Jayawardenes, it’s pointless to try and comprehend his efforts as one whole.
Australia, by way of contrast, are best evaluated cumulatively, as if all eleven components comprised just one all-rounder. Looked upon that way, they’re a decent player – not earth-shattering, but pretty consistent.37 Appeals
South Africa are supposed to be playing the Windies today, then India play Pakistan before England play New Zealand. However, we’re away for the weekend with no plans to use the internet, so you’re going to have to fill in the gaps yourselves in the comments section.
We’re not really in the habit of predicting things because we always anticipate being wrong and if you don’t trust your own predictions, why should anyone else? However, if pushed to commit to some sort of opinion, we’d say South Africa’s bowling line-up appears to have been put together for Chris Gayle’s benefit, so maybe something will happen there should the rain relent.
As for the second match, we’ve been backing India in this tournament and so should probably stick with that. It’s a bizarre match though with a great batting line-up and mediocre bowling line-up pitted against a shoddy batting line-up and fantastic bowling line-up. Only one thing’s for certain: one team will reveal themselves as being better than the other one (unless the match is rained off).
England v New Zealand? We’re pretty confident that one will be a washout. It’s just the way these things work.39 Appeals
That Kumar Sangakkara, eh? He can bat. There’s a decent chance he’s set things up for the perfect England home tournament exit as well where they are ejected after one loss and a bit of rain without having done too much wrong. It’s the way it should be: incomplete and entirely unsatisfactory.
When England reverse-swung their way to victory against Australia, the decision to leave out Steven Finn looked like something of a masterstroke. However, with reverse swing conspicuous by its absence, continuing to leave him out looks more like a novicestroke. His form may have been patchy recently, but Finn has been England’s best one-day bowler for a year or more. It does feel a bit like memories have become spectacularly short.
In rather more cheering news, today we learnt that Cricket Australia employs a ‘Code of Behaviour commissioner’. We’d love to see a complete list of job titles within that organisation.7 Appeals
In other words, they didn’t get enough overs in for messrs Duckworth and Lewis to put their umbrella-holding hands up and come to the rain-affected party.
Aside from David Warner’s performance ferrying drinks, this match was perhaps most notable for Dan Vettori’s immobility. His Achilles tendon problems necessitate saline injections to inhibit the pain. Kyle Mills says he’s okay getting his toast and cereal for breakfast but struggles on the field. You can tell.
It’s most striking because of how much Vettori’s visibly changed since he first appeared in international cricket. Back then, he was a scrawny thing who stood out because he wore glasses. Now no-one notices the glasses and he’s a huge, lumbering bear of a man with walking difficulties.
Time, eh? It passes. Each day your body becomes incrementally more decrepit until you suddenly notice that one of the components no longer functions at all. At that point, you may regret not using it more. However, it’s important to remember that you didn’t do the things you didn’t do for a reason – you couldn’t be bothered.9 Appeals
They were in a Walkabout. Of all the pubs in Birmingham, David Warner and Joe Root opted to go to an Australian-themed bar which uses the slogan: “Home of the awesome spirit of Australia.”
This makes Warner look like a homesick child, desperately clinging to anything even faintly Antipodean, while Root has basically committed treason.
Regarding the confrontation, The Sydney Morning Herald says it featured a ‘glancing blow’ to Root’s chin. Sounds to us like Warner chinned Root and the wee man took it like a proper Yorkshireman.
Why did it happen? Well, that’s a matter for conjecture. Why not go on Twitter and read some hilarious jokes about bullying. Joe Root looks really young, you see.
Update: Apparently Root had been wearing a wig as a fake beard. Warner pulled it off before swinging, clearly believing that fake hair would entirely neuter his weedy blow. This may also shed light on the motive for the act: David Warner will not stand for inappropriate usage of a wig.27 Appeals
And largely thanks to the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja, of all people. We’re still not quite sure how he gets wickets.
This week’s instalment of The Spin was about Jadeja and how fans didn’t value him for a long time. We’re glad he’s no longer getting a hard time, but we’re not too sure how we feel about him taking five wicket hauls. Surely that should be the preserve of bowlers who don’t purvey such a nondescript stock delivery?
So while it’s good that Jadeja is at last getting positive recognition, we’d much prefer him to get it for taking 2-48 and chipping in with a few handy lower order runs. Surely that’s the point – appreciating someone for doing the less spectacular work. Anyone can get positive recognition for dismissing half a team.
The other major contributors to India’s win were Shikhar Dhawan and his moustache who scored a second hundred on the bounce. India are still our tip for the Champions Trophy.1 Appeal
Largely because Pakistan never actually got round to chasing the target. Instead, the batsmen just sort of stood there and hoped that it would go away on its own.
It didn’t.11 Appeals
But not by a huge amount. Chasing 139 to win, you’d hope to get there without losing nine wickets. Then again, they didn’t lose ten, so what’s the problem?
A really bad run chase is a wonderful thing. A big run chase is faintly absorbing, but for real tension you need the looming spectre of a right royal balls-up. We’re not sure as to the exact visual appearance of such a spectre, but we’re pretty sure it would make a spooky noise and exude a bad smell.
When the top scorer for the winning team was batting at number eight, you know it was a good match. Furthermore, New Zealand scored eight in leg byes while Sri Lanka scored one. The significance of that should also be considered a badge of quality.16 Appeals