Thursday, March 08, 2007

ICC Cricket World Cup 2007

This world cup, even though being held in the 'poor' conditions of West Indies will prove to be quite intriguing. I say 'poor' because cricket has taken a back seat in the West Indies and so have the fortunes of their team. They have notoriously slow pitches and small stadiums which might make most of the matches an eye sore to watch, but probably that is what will make this world cup so close. Lets hope the management of the world cup get things right.

First, the issue of the associate teams. Of course they need to play more, only if they have a league in the host nation. No point making a a team of rag-tag 35+ players compete against the top teams. Put the money in developing leagues and send top managers/coaches from ICC to these nations to see if things can be worked out. If not the current top cricket nations are enough to sustain the game for some time. Cricket will face its moment of truth some time, unless every one converts to the 20-20 format, the game takes too long to hold viewer's attention in our today's fast paced life.

After that gyaan series: A look at the teams in may order of fav:

1) Australia: Everything will rest upon how much Symonds requires. In spite of the sometimes machine like execution of Ponting and Hussey, they need the spark of Symonds in all departments and to give that 'edge' to themselves. Unless something drastic happens, they will remain the favourites.
Watchlist: Hussey, Clarke, Gilchrist, Johnson

2) West Indies: Lara's last dance. That's all there is to it. The man is a leader, taking pressure, giving responsibility and fighting through. The bowling has improved quite a bit and they know the conditions the best. If only they could stop committing hara-kiri under pressure. But leaving out Runako Morton i think was a mistake. Again, i guess they are banking on the 'gayle' force
Watchlist: Lara, Bravo, Gayle, Samuels

3) Sri Lanka: They have been transformed into a brilliantly tenacious bunch under Mahela. With Murali and Vaas on the the slow wickets, their bowling could stifle any opposition. Batting remains their weakest link and is more often than not determined by one individual making a huge contribution. If the batting clicks, try stopping them
Watchlist: Murali, Vaas, Sangakarra, Lasith

4) South Africa: Oh c'mon, they start every tournament as favourites but then do nothing. Again Smith is a no nonsense leader and would be willing to get the maximum from his players. Pollock, both bowling and batting could well hold the key. Unless rain appears, this could well be their year
Watchlist: Kemp, Boucher, Pollock, Kallis

5) India: 1 billion people rooting for them seems only to make the pressure come on. They should not have any significant problems till they face the Aussies somewhere. The Aussies expose their psychological frailties each time and it takes a long time for us to recover. The form of Irfan Pathan would remain a concern, even though he would probably be chucked once they realize "it don't swing in WI" :). Batting would hold the key.
Watchlist: Sreesanth, Tendulkar, Harbhajan, Dhoni

6) Pakistan: Well errr.. they are Pakistan. They can win any game any day. Inzy and Md Younus can score at will. Their bowling is their biggest weakling but in case of slow pitches Afridi and Malik could come into their own. It is always dangerous to write off Pakistan for any tournament, but this time there might be no surprises from them.
Wathclist: Inzy, Younis, Md Yousuf, Afridi

7) New Zealand: They got beaten by Bangladesh, well well they better wake up. All their recent victories have come on either wickets that offer swing or batting beauties. How they stack up on the WI pitches remains to be seen. My feeling is that they wont do too well, unless the man Vettori creates a web. Form of Fleming would hold a key.
Watchlist: Oram, Vettori, Bond, Taylor

8) England: Maybe unfairly at the bottom of the list, but someones got to be there and England could have the pleasure. Possibly a dark horse if things click as in VB Australia, they are basically an unorganized one day team. Having finally got some sort of combination going, their batting would be key. On their day Flintoff and Pieterson could finish matches, but well they have not till now. This might be their chance.
Watchlist: Plunkett, Pieterson, Flintoff, Collingwood.

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