Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

Tag: Ireland

Ranji in Ireland

Henry Kelly in the Irish Times traces the great Ranjitsinhji’s Irish connection:

A few years ago while on holiday in Connemara, I spent an afternoon with Martin Halloran, then the last surviving member of Ranji’s staff at Ballynahinch. [..]

Martin remembers hearing [of Ranji’s death] with sadness and disbelief. “You’d meet people on the road crying their eyes out and we even convinced ourselves that he’d died on April 1st and one of the men said he was still alive and it was just his idea of an April Fool’s joke”.

Ranji never married, though Martin told me with a wink: “He always had a nurse with him”.

Great stuff.

Ask Not What the Associates Can Do For You

It occurs to me (and to ducking beamers before me) that we are having the wrong argument.

The argument should not be about whether the Associate teams (e.g. Ireland, The Netherlands) should play in World Cups every four years.

It should be about what we do in the interim to make sure they are better teams in four years.

England: Producing Excitement Through Mediocrity

There have been two good and two great cricket matches in the World Cup so far:

  1. England v. Netherlands: Netherlands bats first, scores 292 on the back of a ten Doeschate blinder and England falter a bit before winning.
  2. Sri Lanka v Pakistan: Sri Lanka fail to chase a total within their reach against a never-say-die Pakistan bowling attack.
  3. England v. India: India bat England out of the game. Then England almost walk away with it. Zaheer brings India right back. And it’s a tie.
  4. England v. Ireland: England bat Ireland out of the game. Ireland collapses, before Kevin O’Brien walks away with it.

Do you sense a pattern? England was involved in three of the four games. They’ve produced exciting matches by vastly under-performing.

On the other hand, two teams produced excitement by over-performing: Ireland and Pakistan.

In fact, Pakistan and England have had diametrically opposite performances in the World Cup so far.

England: Top order fires, middle-order misfires and bowlers don’t show up to work.

Pakistan: Top order fails, middle-order rescues and bowlers save the day.

Ireland Makes a Fool Out of Me

I was afraid this would happen. Someone in the Irish dressing room has taken exception with my blog.

Ireland beat England today in what eclipses the India v. England match as the best match of the World Cup so far- thereby cutting to shreds two of my recent columns:

  1. Associates should not be part of the next One Day World Cup
  2. The World Cup format is dull and the next five matches will be more of the same

I’m glad to be wrong, if it means we get more matches like this.

The Associates Portfolio

On the subject of the Associate nations, Ducking Beamers makes a good point:

[O]f all the Associates, I think Ireland and Afghanistan have the most potential. I say this not to disparage the likes of Canada or Kenya or the Netherlands. No, this is simple geography: the Irish are a good team in part due to the proximity to England, and Afghanistan’s squad was born in Pakistan. These teams make sense and we’d be stupid to let them slip back into obscurity.

Now if only someone could come up with a plan to save New Zealand

Like I said, I wouldn’t mind trading NZ and WI for a couple of scrappy associates.

The Best of the Rest, and Other Lessons From the Warm-Up Games

Everyone is curious about those other cricket-playing countries once every four years. Look how cute the Bermuda team looks in their bright blues. Is Obuya a common name in Kenya? Has Mugabe ruined Zimbabwe yet? They play cricket in Canada? And so forth.

Here’s a handy guide to the best of the rest, based on what happened at the warm-up games this week:

The Best of the Rest

The Best of the Rest: The World Cup Warm-Up Games

Everything clear now?

You will notice, I left Bangladesh out. I think they are a cut above the rest, but they regularly prove me wrong.

Here are the lessons we gained from the warm-up matches this week. You know, the warm-up matches that everyone assures us mean nothing. Except when they win.

  • Canada beat Netherlands. Afghanistan beat Canada. Kenya beat Afghanistan. Netherlands beat Kenya. Ireland beat Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe beat Ireland. The associates are a most exciting bunch, but only when they play among themselves.
  • Ireland came close to chasing 300 against New Zealand. Canada came close to beating England. Upsets in the World Cup seem inevitable.
  • India Proved they could win a match with the bat as well as the ball.
  • New Zealand’s bowlers enter the World Cup with even less confidence than they had before. Giving up 360 to India is one thing, but 279 to Ireland is criminal. At this point, I wouldn’t mind trading New Zealand and West Indies for a couple of promising associate countries on the international calendar.
  • Australia is in trouble. Plain and simple. They couldn’t take a wicket against South Africa in 46 overs. They couldn’t get past 217 in two attempts. Of course, I’ve said it before, I wouldn’t bet against them. The format of the World Cup allows them to be mediocre for the first four weeks, and surge towards the end. And the Australians can surge.