Selfishly, my work place has stopped my direct access to blogger. Bloody Capitalists. I shall though, find time to report on my near perfect prediction regarding the Scotland game and a continued look at the smaller nations in the competition.
Teams for Australia v Scotland @ St. Kitts
Gilchrist + , Hadyden, Ponting (c) , Clarke, Hodge, Hussey, Watson, Hogg, Bracken, Tait, McGrath
Watts, Haq, Watson, Hamilton, Brown, Poonin, Smith + , Wright (c), Rogers, Blain and Hoffman
Scotland won Ze Toss, and have chosen to concede 400 runs and then attempt bravely to chase them down only to be bowled out for 80.
In the first game of the tournament we had a shock, or did we? Playing in front of a home crowd, imbued by Red Stripe and sense of celebration, those gathered to see the West Indies play roared and cheered every ball as though it might be the last they'd see.
The players one would normally rely on to score the big knocks looked pedestrian, and scraped to jittery double-figure scores. It took the man who commentators have frequently called upon to show his real cricketing self: Marlon Samuels to provide the backbone of the West Indian innings. His 63 was a cultured and sometimes brutal display of batting, laying the foundations for a respectable 241/9 by the island side.
On a pitch which offered more pace than anticipated, the score seemed eminently 'gettable' for the Pakistanis. Their core batsmen of Inzi, Yousuf and Younis rival any in the modern age, but on this occasion all three failed much like the West Indian trio, and this proved to be their downfall losing them for a combined total of just 82.
What was remarkable about this victory (or loss) was the way for the first time in memory, the West Indies bowled as a unit. All five bowlers took wickets, and none conceded more than 4.5 per over. They pressurised at all times, giving away little - the West Indian bowlers conceded just 17 boundaries compared to the 28 leaked by Pakistan - and this was the factor which beat the tourists into submission.
If the Windies batting fires, and the bowling remains this strong, we may find ourselves, in six months time, with the first victors on home soil. But there's still a long way to go...
This is definately how to catch a ball. Although I am suspicious of all American sports, this 'chuck' or 'lob' or whatever they call it to the catcher was incredible. I shall never say that again, should I die of embarassment. The catcher is called Tyrone Prothro, the chappie who fails miserably to forsee that he was going to catch a baguette shaped object on his back is called a fool.
But seriously folks, don't try this at home, you'll fall asleep.
Just heard on commentary that, there's lot's of spectators standing here...
a) To do with the fact that the stadium was about 0.6% ready at 9.30 am?
b) It's an unbelievable game, unparalleled in modern cricketing history?
c) It's so hot that people are turning their bottoms into ribeye steaks by sitting down?
d) They are in fact sitting down, but Jonathan Agnew has seen a new breed of people?
If you answered anything other than a) you are to go to Hove in the middle of winter, have an outdoor net with Graham Gooch in the pouring rain and not kill yourself.
In the end, the WI, not the God fearing women from middle England, but the Caribbean Cricket team, got a hugely average 241, thanks in no small part to some lusty middle and lower order pinch hitting.
Marlon Samuels broke free of the shackles that have restrained him in the early part of his career, and crafted a delicious 63 off just 70 balls including 3 enormous sixes. Accompanying him on his journey were Ramnaresh Sarwan and Lara who got 49 and 37 respectively.
The Islanders though, never got into full flow on the Sabina Park pitch which offered more pace than many had speculated it might, where a par score looked to be 280+.
For all the West Indian Failings, there were moments for the Jamaican crowd to cheer, including some bazooka-like hitting from Bravo and Smith, and Corey Collymore hitting 'the greatest shot ever by a number eleven' out of the stadium on the very last ball of the innings to give the score an air of respectability at 241-9.
Pakistan's bowlers did well to contain the West Indian attack, especially in the middle part of the game where Lara and Samuels were cutting loose. Iftikhar Anjum was worthy of individual note in taking 3/44 off his full allocation but his performance was simply a part of a fine team effort by Pakistan. It was all nearly ruined with some odd fielding, most humorously by Danish Kaneria who, when offering a return catch to the Pakistan 'keeper Kamran Akmal lobbed it straight over his head for four.
What is notable about the game so far is that we've had crowd noise, boundaries, and some fun. If it continues in this fashion, the World Cup will certainly be one to remember.
Oh, Jerome Taylor has already got 1/13... I'm not going to say I told you so yet...
- Gayle gone without troubling the scorers much in the third over for two...
- Sarwan first four in the fourth over... 9/1
- Windies reach their 50 without further trouble... Chanderpaul 16, Sarwan 30 (15th over)
- Chanderpaul out in the 20th over to a snorter from Anjum who's been excellent this morning. 64/2
- Samuels in with Sarwan
- Sarwan out! Anjum again, this fella is bowling with some spirit, although the West Indian Batsmen have certainly been helping the bowlers here at 'New' Sabina Park. One short of his fifty. 77/3, 24th over.
- Not quite the last hope for the Indies, but the great man is in to bat. No, not Alex Tudor - It's Brian Lara.
- Kaneria and Anjum keeing things neat and tidy, giving away little at the end of the 20's...
- Lara and Samuels playing excellent cricket at the end of the 35th over - upping the pace with some HUGE hitting from both men. Each has cleared the fence and the boundary is starting to take a bashing. Run Rate up - classic finish in prospect... 138/3 15 overs to go
One of Cricket's truly memorable stadia, Sabina Park has been host to centuries, controversy and cacophanous noise over the years it has been a test match host. The old Sabina Park though, is no more. The advent of the ICC World Cup has brought about drastic changes to the stadium that was host to Sobers' test match batting record. It is now renovated and truly ready to host cricket at the highest level.
Some believe the tinkering (seating has been bumped up by 5,000) will ruin the deafening and mind-boggling atmosphere once found there, but those who believe it will be a chastening experience for the ground are outnumbered by those, including me, who are saying 'about bloody time'.
On more than one occasion the ground has been under great suspicion for providing pitches which more resembled martian surfaces than grass, and recently England's game with the West Indies was abandoned because of danger to life and limb. But what will the two teams face when they arrive for the game on tuesday?
The West Indies, regardless of their triumphant opening ceremony, could not come into this game on a lower note. Demolished by India in the recent warm-up games, and rumours of money frustrations still abound, it is going to take something heroic from their ageing Captain to mould this team into something resembling professionals.
With age and talent on his (left-hand) side, Chris Gayle ought to be the performer of the tournament. Brutal but languid power, coupled with an eagle-eye for the ball and some laconic but accurate bowling, means Gayle is the proverbial man for all seasons. The current regulations, although no doubt they will change probably mid-over, play right into the Jamaican's gloves. With the field set in for the first ten overs, he is in a position to play a game within a game, much like Sri Lanka did in 1996.
Gayle cannot carry a team all by himself, and the senior and frankly, superior, players around him must mentally turn up at Sabina if they're to stand any chance of winning. Sarwan, Lara and Chanderpaul have vast experience of the world game and all average 40+ in the shortened version of the game, there is no excuse for these men to fail on home soil. If they can't do it in the West Indies, it might be time to make wholesale changes.
Key man: Jerome Taylor
Frightening speed and hitherto unharnessed accuracy could mean that on a good day, he can give his team mates the chance to get an early bath.
Although I have dismissed the chances of the West Indies, because they are a team lacking in direction at least they haven't got a couple of disgraceful drug cheats ruining the party for everyone else.
The media melee surrounding Asif and Akhtar means that Pakistan are going to be guaranteed a multimedis scrum whereever they set foot, and it must, for the players, be impossible to ignore.
Their case is an example of the total lack of communication and correlation between the confederate cricketing nations and their overseer, the ICC. One moment they are not banned, then banned for life, and then it is reduced and increased incrementally, and finally they are not playing because they conveniently have injuries, most probably to their egos. The ICC members should have stood up off their Saville Row-ed backsides and done something about it before the World Cup started, because to still have the row rumbling on, is for me, showing a great deal of disrespect to the host nations.
Problems aside though and Pakistan have to be seen as one of the top four teams in the competition. With the established 'golden tripod' of Inzamam, Yousuf and Younis, Pakistan have a central core to rival Australia. Kamran Akmal is emerging as a huge talent in the game, and Danish Kaneria's hybrid leg-spin/impish pest routine has accounted for the best in the world.
As long as Politics doesn't spill into the dressing room, Pakistan will surely be a force to be reckoned with this year, and will hope for a repeat of their 1991 success.
Winner: Pakistan by either 80 runs or 5 wickets.
Here is a link:
To Andrew Miller's potted history of last night's events. The fact that he uses the word 'Jerk Chicken' makes it worth the read.
But it is very good and he covers everything that happened.
Emotions are running high in the office, so I apologise for the brief tirade in the last post :)
I am also fretting about the fact that the SKY man, as yet, hasn't been to put my dish in. I am buying SKY for the simple reason I want to watch as much cricket as my retinas will take over the course of the nest 2 months... I have rung up at least twice inquiring of the whereabouts of said dish... but to no avail: 'SKY is very popular at the moment Mr Burt, but we'll get it to you as soon as we can...' I threatened to move over to Virgin, but that idea was poohpoohed when the woman at the other end of the line sniggered. Defeated by a girly giggle. I'm less of a man than I thought I was.
But enough babble:- To the Cricket.
Last night, we and the world saw the opening of the greatest show on Earth (until Zippo's comes back into town anyway) and damn it was good fun. But then again it was always going to be the case.
As holders of the official title: 'The most fun nation on the planet', the West Indies produced a sonic and visual feast to savour in Montego Bay. 2,000 dancers, a collection of the greatest cricketers of all time, $2,000,000 spent, one of the most awesome singers in the world Jimmy Cliff (with Shaggy... can't have everything I suppose), and party to savour.
If this infectious start continues, we'll not only have one of the best Cricket World Cup's ever, but one of the first truly memorable sporting events of this new Millenia.
Sitting in my pokey office, my day is currently bearing all the hallmarks of the similarly titles TV show. It is related to the cricket, so bear with it...
I have just had to do a health and safety assessment which encompassed the following:
1) "Stacking chairs - The efficient, correct and quick method."
2) "Fire: What and what not to do" My question about fighting fire, if your name happened to be fire didn't go down as was intended:
"Mr Burt, should that situation ever occur, I would advise that everyone involved got out of the building, and did not persist with tackling, battling or indeed as you say, fighting the fire. That would be insane."
Dan 0, sense of humour failure 1
3) "Coffee, tea and the hazards of workplace related burns." After hearing the horror stories from this talk, I'm very much going to stick the fags, Mountain Dew and Red Bull - None of which seem as harmful as the sinister cuppa that's just been described to me:
"The heat of a boiling cup of tea is more than capable of doing as much damage to your skin as a hot oven or stove..."
In that instance I was transported back to year nine science. How can this be proven or disproven? Already in my mind I was imagining how I might write up the experiment for the H&S man to mark for me... I would be aiming for a B+
2 x Hands
1 x Body
1 x Oven (Aga will suffice, but middle class status must be confirmed before commencement of experiment)
2 x Leather driving gloves
1 x Tea Bag (optional sugar)
1 x Splash of Milk
3 x Nice Biscuits
1 x Sponge cake
Get two human hands placing one in a steaming mug of tea and the other on a red hot/nuclear stove.
What I will do:
I will place one of my two hands in a mug of tea, and at the same time, put my remaining hand onto an electric stove. I will be timing the two hands to see how long it takes for them to jump away from each heat source. As a placebo I will take a third hand and plunge it into a Victoria Sponge cake to see how long this third hand lasts (Walnut or Battenburg shall suffice).
Hand one lasted 3 seconds in the tea.
Hand two is still attached to the hob and making a funny smell.
Hand three got bitten off by Tracey Wilkins.
Put self on hand donor list at local hospital.
But this all brings me to my point (at last). I work in a mundane, veluxed and white office with little danger of death, apart from impending World War and canteen pies. I sit on my own, I drink 2 cups of tea a day and I go to the toilet perhaps 3 times a day.
I do not have the following happen to me:
- Concrete balls being deliberately thrown at my head, at an average velocity of 85MPH/130KPH
- Stand three feet away from someone hitting concrete balls AT me, at an average velocity of 60MPH/100KPH
- Try to catch balls in rubber gloves bowled by Steve Harmison, Shane Bond or Brett Lee
- Inzamam Ul-Haq running anywhere near me.
- Go for a 'quiet' drink with Andrew Flintoff
There is more chance of dying on a cricket pitch than there ever will be in an office. I have to sign various disclaimers because of a toilet roll, these guys just get on with it, for the love of the game, and the chance to do it to someone else next time around. It seems to me that, in a world where everything is becoming increasingly complex, cricket, for all its failings represents a time when life was life. This exhibition of cricket in the West Indies, should highlight to the World, that sometimes it's important to look beyond form 13.4(a).