Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

Tag: Cricket World Cup

Tape Delay Cricket

Samir Chopra elaborates on the story he told in the Boredwaani podcast a couple of weeks ago. Some times, even one day cricket demands patience from its viewers:

When the 1996 World Cup rolled around, I was living with my girlfriend in Manhattan, and working in the Bronx. The day-night games began early in the morning and ended in the afternoon. I would only be able to watch an over or two live before I had to leave for work to begin the long subway ride on the D train, uptown to the Bronx. The extended-play mode of the videocassette, and an extremely patient girlfriend came to the rescue. I would leave after having set up the VCR with a tape in EP mode; my girlfriend, who worked at Rockefeller Center, would walk back at lunchtime to our apartment, change the tape, and then return to work; the two tapes added up to more than eight hours, more than enough for a one-day international.

Though, someone should have taken mercy and warned him about the Calcutta semi-finals.

The iPad, the World Cup and a Baby: A Story of Cricket-Life Balance

This World Cup was unlike any other. I told part of the story at the end of yesterday’s BoredWaani podcast on experiences watching cricket in the US, but wanted to elaborate below.

Reason #1: The iPad
Willow TV streamed the games to all kinds of Internet-connected devices. I could switch from my iPad, to my iPhone to the Roku-connected TV and the game was on.

Reason #2: The Baby
My wife and I had a baby 5 months before the World Cup began. So the 5am starts weren’t an issue; one of the three of us was bound to be up at that hour.

But if you’ve ever had a baby, you know that you can’t deposit yourself in front of a television for a 7-hour game. You can’t deposit yourself in front of a television for T20. You can’t for more than 5 minutes until the baby is much older. I hear some people have to wait until their kid goes off to college. We’ll see.

So here we were: a cricket-loving couple with a 5-month old that was a higher priority than the World Cup. Sachin Tendulkar may be God, but his smile doesn’t make grown men weep. Just the way it is. His backfoot punch past the bowler, on the other hand…

This is where the iPad came in: we watched more cricket on the iPad than on the television. At 5am, without getting out of bed, we’d reach over to the iPad on the nightstand and flip it on. One ear bud in my wife’s ear, one in mine, drift in and out of sleep, sometimes with the baby sleeping between us.

As the day would begin: the baby’s playing in her room, Tendulkar’s playing on the iPad in a corner. We’re changing the baby, Ponting’s lying on the changing pad next to her. The baby goes to sleep, ear buds to hear Ravi Shastri.

Ubiquitous cricket. There’s nothing like it.

Reason #3: India won

Read the rest of this entry »

The ‘Ridiculous’ World Cup Schedule

Kevin Pietersen questions the World Cup schedule:

Pietersen also criticised the format of the six-week long tournament, saying the gaps between matches were too long. “How can the England team play once and then in six days’ time play again, and then in six days’ time play again,” he asked.

That’s what I’ve been wondering. TV revenue for the win!  Read the rest of this entry »

India’s Path to the World Cup Finals

Never Again

Never Again.

The Cricket World Cup is still three weeks away, but it’s never too early to lay out a hypothetical situation.

The Group of Death
The fourteen teams competing in the World Cup are divided into two groups. The top four in each will make it to the quarter-finals.

First, take a look at the two groups:

Group B Group A
  • Bangladesh
  • England
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands
  • South Africa
  • West Indies
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Kenya
  • New Zealand
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Zimbabwe

One of these things is not like the other. Clearly, based on recent form, Group B is the group of death.

100 Hundred Overs = 98 Ad Breaks
Thankfully for the members of Group B, cricket is ruled by a powerful few, and their television revenues. The ICC cannot afford (another) World Cup where the most popular teams fail to make it to the later rounds. For this reason, four teams from each group will qualify for the next round– which should make sure most, if not all, of the high advertising-revenue countries will play the quarter-finals.

Note: Of course, major upsets are always possible, as we saw in 2003. And 2007. Just ask Bob Woolmer. In all seriousness, statistically, a single upset among eight teams is likely. If I had to guess, Bangladesh could beat West Indies to a quarter-final slot. Pakistan, New Zealand and India also have the tendency to vastly under or over-perform, but never meet expectations.

So, in all likelihood, the usual suspects will make it to the quarter-finals. For sake of argument, my nominal prediction:

  • A1: Australia
  • A2: Sri Lanka
  • A3: New Zealand
  • A4: Pakistan
  • B1: South Africa
  • B2: India
  • B3: England
  • B4: West Indies

For the most part, the ranking within the group does not matter. You could come fourth in your group, and still make the quarter-finals. Except, if you’re in Group B, this will likely mean you have an early date with Australia.

[Note: And no one wants an early date with Australia. Not even New Zealand. They live next door, they would know.]

On the other hand, a top-three place within Group B would (likely) ensure avoiding Australia until at least the semi-final. The other three potential opponents are deadly on their day– and Sri Lanka in the sub-continent can be lethal– but if I had to choose when to meet Australia, I would choose the finals.

[Note: In reality, I would choose never, or when the moon turned blue, or when Ponting returns to form.]

[Note: Note to self: never bet against Ponting.]

Location, Location, Location
There is another wrinkle in the story.

If India finish second or fourth in their group, they play their quarter-finals in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

If India finish third in their group, they play in Colombo, Sri Lanka. If, simultaneously, Sri Lanka finish second in their group India play Sri Lanka in Colombo. Short of playing Australia, this is probably the second worst-case quarter-final scenario.

Here’s the best case: If India finish at the top of their group, they play at Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, India. India does not have a terrific One Day record in Ahmedabad (winning only five of twelve), but they would prefer a home ground to Dhaka or Colombo any day.

[Note: India has a better record at Dhaka, but that’s only because they played Bangladesh. The three times they have lost were to Sri Lanka and Pakistan. India’s recent record at the Premadasa in Colombo, isn’t too bad either. They have defeated Sri Lanka five of the last seven times in the past two years.]

As an added benefit, the winner here would play their semi-final in Mohali instead of Colombo. And everybody loves Mohali, right? Right?

[Note: India have lost their last three ODIs in Mohali.]

#1, #1. #1
In short, while the early stages of the World Cup are largely meaningless (as they have been for some time), there are a few minor goals to shoot for.

If they finish in the top three in their group, India may be able to avoid Australia. For now.

If the they finish on top, they have the home advantage and most likely avoid Australia until the finals. And avoid a repeat of 2003. And hope someone else beats Australia before them.

One-day cricket’s acid test

Bhogle waxes poetic about the potential for another insipid world cup, but manages to avoid mentioning the elephant in the room– Twenty20.

If indeed the viewership and attendance tend to be too strongly skewed, if games not involving the top four or five leave people disenchanted, it would mean that the ICC’s decision to have no more than 10 teams for the 2015 World Cup is right.

It’s a tournament planned to maximize television revenue. It’s a form of the game that’s simultaneously too long and too short. A leaner, meaner version in 2015 may be fine, but euthanasia is even better.