Before the world cup I talked about how much I like that this is still cricket’s ultimate tournament, and I love that at the end of this we’ll know who is the best ODI team in world cricket. Probably.
The other thing I love is the minnows. And because of typical ICC stupidity, they’ll be going soon.
In 07 Van Bunge and Ireland were the stories. In the 03 t my favourite memories are from John Davison’s batting, Kenya’s form and Aasif Karim’s bowling. In 99 I loved Neil Johnson. And anyone who has seen The Chuck Fleet-Smith’s will know how much I love Sultan Zarawani from 96.
In this tournament we’ve had minnow highlights coming thick and fast.
Collins Obuya’s 98* was heartbreaking. What a story though, the man who was one to watch in 03 with his leggies, gets the yips with his leggies and re-brands himself as a dogged barely functioning batsmen who somehow finds 98 runs against Australia before running out of time for making a hundred. Here is a man who has done whatever he came to perform for his country in this world cup.
Peter Borren is the most violent looking cricketer I’ve ever seen. If Crank 4 needs a Dutch Kiwi Villain I could see him in a knife fight with Jason Statham. Borren is the sort of barely functioning all rounder that minnows rely on. His medium pace makes you want to face it, and when he bats he seems to try and cut every ball. Throw in his captaincy, scary eyes and forehead, and you have a nugget of minnow gold that his team would be scared to miss field in front of.
Ryan Ten Doeschate smashed England around so bad that people thought he’d scared them straight. The South African Essex man with the nickname about his cock has smashed a few balls before this world cup, and he even had a cameo in Stuart Broad’s comedy romp in the World T20, but to see him fully take down England for a few hours was as good a structured innings I’ve seen by a minnow batsmen since Neil Johnson’s hundred against Australia. Plus it’s fun to call him Ryan Ten Inches.
Rizwan Cheema has barely scored this world cup, and yet, he’s built up a cult following by batting like an arsonist. Before this world cup the only taste of The Cheema (as he should be called) was on youtube. Now I’ve seen him open the batting, slog in the middle order, bowl his crafty rubbish medium pace and try and hit kiwi batsmen with beamers. He’s like every club cricket slogger you’ve ever seen, but he does it once or twice to international bowlers before getting bowled with his eyes shut.
Nehemiah Odhiambo has taken five wickets in the world cup, and his econmy rate is far from Ray Pricean. What he does have is a smile. When he beats a batsman, he smiles so much that no matter how much Shane Warne or Mitchell Johnson whiten their teeth, they’ll never smile like he does. He is impossible not to like, if he cheated on you with your girlfriend, you’d want to beat him up, but his smile and infectious attitude would make you take him out for a beer and ask him about his bowling action.
Then there is Kevin O’Brien. I was under the opinion that O’Brien was a cult figure before this world cup. He’s a chubby slogger with ginger hair, surely there is already an Indie band called the K’OB experience after a few of his hits in the 09 World T20. Apparently not, and most people only seemed to notice this beast when he beat England on his own. It was one of the best world cup innings in the entire history of the tournament, and it was done by a guy who was hyperventilating after 30 balls from a country that’s only been in a few tournaments.
Now, while I suspect I’m in the minority, even those who think that minnows are a waste of time would find it hard to argue that these guys have added to the tournament.
If the tournament is too long, shorten it, play two games a day during the early part of the tournament, don’t allow minnows to play from Friday to Sunday and it’s all good.
With 10 teams, we’re giving ourselves less chance for stories like Aasif Karim, Kevin O’Brien and Collins Obuya to come through. I can’t see how that will improve the cricket world in any way, or make the world cup a more interesting tournament. I’ve seen New Zealand play Pakistan a lot, I don’t see much Netherlands Vs West Indies.
And perhaps the most important thing to remember is that Sri Lanka went from minnows to winners in 13 years.
The cricket world needs a touch of minnow, and if looking at Balaji Rao’s bulge doesn’t convince you of that, nothing will.
How South Africa can win
It’s not impossible to mention the world cup without slipping in South Africa’s past; it’s just not that fun. Without South Africa failing it wouldn’t feel like such a special tournament. Everyone needs the Washington Generals. Their torment is part of the mystique; no one proves that World Cups are hard to win more than South Africa.
Every thing South Africa does is looked at through their comical history. It doesn’t mean they can’t win the world cup; it also doesn’t make it easier. If South Africa wins this tournament, their painful past will just make it sweeter.
Their big problem was obvious against England, the middle order was weak. Yet, with their top four all being cautious batsmen, they have the potential to cover over the cracks with careful batting.
While other teams can’t afford to bat in a one paced way and give up potential runs, South Africa have the best attack in the world cup. Their weakest bowler is Robin Petersen, and he doesn’t even have to be their fifth bowler. They could play Steyn, Morkel, Tsotsobe, Tahir, Kallis as the 5th bowler and Duminy as the 6th bowler, if they play slightly within themelves and don’t lose wickets.
With this line up they should be able to control the game and play decisive conservative balanced cautious pragmatic cricket, also known as the South African Way.
What South Africa must do
Keep Amla in his magical form.
How you can beat South Africa
Morne Morkel is mentally fragile, Imran Tahir can go for runs, Kallis doesn’t seem to like to bowl as much these days, Tsotsobe is hittable, Botha is easier to manoeuvre without a doosra and Robin Petersen is a bowler you can work over. Sure, I’ve just said above that their the best bowling attack in the tournament, but they’re really only fighting for that honour with Sri Lanka, so it doesn’t mean that much.
The attack is varied and talented, but take Dale Steyn out of it, and it has issues. The problem is taking him out of the attack without losing any wickets to him is not easy. If you don’t give him wickets, you can afford to go along at four an over against him. Against India, he took five wickets, you just can’t allow that. Without Tahir, and they may not play him, Steyn has to take wickets. Especially if they are batting slower to protect the middle order.
In 07, Australia let Kallis bat because he couldn’t score quick enough to hurt them. Now that system would play into their hands as their attack is better, and thanks to T20, Kallis has a fifth gear. To beat them you have to get out their top four. I know what you’re thinking, “Jrod, what a revolutionary game plan you’ve come up with, the first four wickets, genius”. The thing is, I don’t think their middle order has what it takes to post or chase a total if early wickets go down. They are capable of chipping in, like they did against India, but at the moment they don’t look like being part of anything substantial. You have to get through to them, so unless you want to off them in a comedy Springfield Isotopes way, I’d suggest wickets.
The most important thing is to never give up against them, distant and recent history show that you’re always a chance, no matter how over the game looks. However I’d suggest spending more time on working out how to beat Amla and Steyn, and less on working out who will pull a Donald.
What not to do against South Africa
Don’t mention the C word when facing Steyn.
I understand that in this rapidly changing world with technological advances, my space being unused and mobile devices taking over that the need to engage with younger audiences with something that fees seems fresh and unique in an edgy kind of way is important. I really do.
Also I can see why when filming the world cup you’d like to look like you are the leaders of cricket coverage, and thusly you need a way to show it. I mean this is the world cup, and you’re the chosen ones, this could be your one chance to really make your name.
However, if you think that by showing every free hit from a stupid angle you are doing anything other than annoying people, you’re so far beyond simply being fucked in the head that you should invent a mircowave that you can stick your head into it so they radio waves can still turn your head into a mushy mess that no one would like to eat.
If you use this angle one out of three times, or even experiment with other angles (perhaps behind the batsman?), you might find something worthwhile, but the low mid off and mid on camera that makes it hard to instantly pick up what is going on the first time you see it, and every other time you see it the world cricket world swears at you in unison.
You see, and you should know this, for almost 30 years cricket has been shown from straight behind the umpire’s head. People like this. If this angle was poor, it wouldn’t have lasted this long. If you can find a better angle, we’ll like that too.
Instead what you have done is given us a poor angle, and then stuck with it even when it’s impossible to believe that anyone likes it, and if they do, it’s only because their head is permanently on the same stupid angle and for the first time they’re seeing cricket like the rest of us always do.
It’s the sticking with it that gets to me. We’ve had about 300 games of this world cup, there has been a few free hits in that time, yet I’m still to see one because of this stupid dutch tilt free hit angle.
Just show us the cricket the best way you can.
Save the wacky angles for replays and montages.
I don’t want innovation in the coverage of the world cup, I want to see every ball bowled in the best possible way, not most of them in the best possible way and then some of them from a stupid angle that means that I won’t see exactly where the ball has pitched, or what it did off the pitch, or understand what the batsman has done with his feet.
However, if this free hit angle was just a ruse to stop us from noticing that the commentators you’ve picked have been lobotomised mid or pre tournament, then I can only marvel at the TV cricketing slight of hand you have pulled off.
With the tournament heading towards the pointy sticky end, it’s time to look at how the big teams can win this.
How India can win
India has the perfect template to win this tournament in the one-man clichemeister Ravi Shastri. When Shastri was replaced by the Shastribot a few years back, everyone sighed. But it is the Shastribot that can help India win this world cup. All they need to do is look at what he says, study it, and then do the opposite.
The man is now so full of pointless positive cliches that he’s actually a Chance the Gardner type.
Ignore the the batting side will be look for more runs while the bowlers will be looking for wickets, and listen to what he says about India. It’s pure genius, if you reverse it.
When Ravi says that Sachin inspires his teammates, think the opposite. It’s far more likely that Sachin Tendulkar making runs, and Sehwag, stops the rest of the team from putting in. It’s a common theme amongst teams with really strong top orders, once you see them take over, the rest of the batsmen relax, although against South Africa they didn’t so much relax as drift into a rohypnol coma. If India can rectify this, they may not need to fix their fielding or bowling to win this world cup.
When Ravi says Yuvi/Raina never usually miss catches/fumble like that, look at all the back footage to see just how often they actually do make mistakes and start fixing the problem. Perhaps even encourage Yuvi to bend over. Make him watch Legally Blonde for the bend and snap seen, I’m sure he’d like it enough that it might rub off on him.
When Ravi says with Bhajji and Zaheer India have a top class bowling attack, someone should check who the next three bowlers are. Also, any praise for how well Yuvraj is bowling is a sign that things are going horribly wrong.
I say all this because if all 7 batsmen put in, the fielding gets better and they find at least four frontline bowlers, India win this with a leg in the air and Ravi Shastri won’t have to go trawling through feces to find the positives.
What India must do
Find four bowlers or drastically improve their fielding to the point of competency.
How India can be beaten
You’ve got to milk Bhajji, don’t let him get a wicket and pretend he is big and tough. The man likes to win, and gets pissy when he can’t make an impact. Zaheer should be kept out when the ball is reversing, scoring off him at that stage is not that important. And then take the rest down as much as you can. If India wins this world cup, they’ll do it because Yuvraj and Yusuf have managed to steal through a few overs.
Push their fielders around. Take them on, mock them, these are the most feted cricketers on the planet, why not abuse them when your stroking a cover drive on a lifeless pitch. Every fumble should be mentioned. Sacrifice a nymph at the feet of Satan to ask for at least one collapse when they bat.
What not to do against India
Let Bhajji take wickets.
It seems that no one in this world cup is that good.
Every couple of days a major team puts in a shocker. Somehow there is only one team left who hasn’t lost, and I don’t think that will last either.
So we all need a system to tell if your team has lost, or choked.
I’ve devised this one, and by putting your answers in, you can tell once and for all if a team has choked.
Being that I’m just throwing shit up against a wall, this might have some flaws, However, when used correctly, it could work. Maybe.
Was the team in a position to win?
1. Not really, in fact, they were barely in the game.
2. Sure, but not even Ravi Shastri was excited.
3. The fans were cocky, and rightfully so.
4. Fat ladies were singing, women were moist, men were hard, and people were getting naked and pouring champagne into any orifice they could.
Where there mitigating factors?
1. Shit was going on like crazy, like in Nam.
2. It was like a party at Chris Lewis’s house.
3. There were factors, but they were hardly mitigating.
4. It was calmer than a BBQ at Michael Hussey’s house.
What level was the collapse?
1. More like a trip than a fall.
2. A sudden drop that would require oxygen masks.
3. The part in the monster film when the monster falls down.
4. Yao Ming falling off the empire state building.
How much pressure?
1. Like Miss Daisy chirping at you.
2. Similar to asking Steve Waugh a controversial question.
3. There was as much pressure as the time I tried to get my foreskin out of the zipper it was stuck in without losing it all.
4. You’ve just realised you’ve picked up Majeed’s jacket by accident and you’ve noticed a dude filming you.
How good were the opposition?
1. They had one guy that could cure cancer by the way he played.
2. They had it going on, like they sing about, but it wasn’t perfect.
3. They were ok, but they shouldn’t have won.
4. Could have been beaten by putting your lips together and blowing.
How important was the match?
1. I wouldn’t cut off anything to win it.
2. I’d sacrifice my little toe to win it.
3. I’d cut off my wanking arm to win it.
4. I’d cut off my cock/clit/nipples to win it.
Add up your totals.
If the total was 6-10, the best team on the day won, or other such clichés.
If the total was 10-15, the team was a bit shit, it doesn’t mean they choked.
If the total was 15-20, it was a non-lethal choke, but they felt it around their neck when it mattered.
If the total was 20-24, an auto-erotic asphyxiation that went wrong.
I can only hope that this system ends up in cricket bars across the world, just so it can be used and abused.
You may not believe this, but between innings I managed to fly to Sri Lanka, convince that security at the ground that I only speak English, walk out on the ground, get several key reporters to give me a press pass and interview Kamran Akmal as he came off.
Kamran, it’s Jrod from cricket with balls, can we have a quick chat?
We need him and we need his wisdom and his bitchin’-ness.
Cool, how do you feel about missing those three chances?
If you think about it, dude, it’s like I’m 0 for 3 with catches, with never an excuse, but like in cricket, the scoreboard doesn’t lie, never has. So what we all have is a catchof the heart. To sully or contaminate or radically disrespect this fielding with a shameful catch is something that I will leave to the amateurs and the Bible grippers.
Good point. What do you say to those who think you should be dropped?
I am on a drug, it’s called Kamran Akmal!
Some people are going to accuse you of match fixing out there.
I’m so tired of pretending like my life isn’t perfect and bitchin’ and just winning every second and I’m not perfect and bitchin’ and just deliverying the goods at every frickin’ turn, because, look what I’m dealing with’ man. I’m dealing with fools and trolls, dealing with soft targets and it’s just, you know it’s just strafing runs in my underwear before my first cup of coffee because I don’t have time for these clowns.
OK, but some people are going to accuse you of performing badly for cash?
I have one speed, one gear. I’m different. I have a different constitution, I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man. Dying’s for fools, dying’s for amateurs.
Nice Imran Khan reference, but are you saying you took money?
I don’t buy it. I don’t agree with it, I don’t trust it, I don’t care about it, I don’t ever want to hear those words put together again. What it was isn’t what you thought it is because it is what it is, because you claim so, because you confirm it, because you insist that it is what it is and therefore it ain’t what it ain’t. It ain’t what it ain’t, which is gold and winning and magic, because that’s how I roll. It is what it is, and your stupid, boring contaminated world because you allowed it.
Are you shit or a cheat?
I’m burning my own face but I can’t feel the fucken heat because I don’t feel fucken pain because pain is a fucken myth.
Thanks for nothing you shitty keeping fucktard.
What’s not to love? It’s MY life. Winning!
The ICC host their most important tournament.
Along with the local authorities, they do everything they can to make sure the players and officials are safe and secure.
Then a guy walks in who speaks English and the let him out on the ground and give him a press pass.
The guy, Syed, just walks into a ground, says Pakpassion and it’s all ok.
You can read his account of it here (EDIT: Quite smartly this guy has taken this link down, proudly announcing you’ve tricked the ICC the day before the game is not the smartest move) he relives it in minute detail, even about his trip to Kandy to see Buddha’s tooth and how they wouldn’t let him in with shorts on (same thing happened to me).
Syed has some courage, and I love the story, but what does this say about the security at these grounds when this guy is out in the middle, taking photos of the players and the pitch,without a press pass, and then is given one because well, other journalists who had just met him have asked for it to be pushed through.
He could be a date rapist, or a Christian rapper, the ICC don’t know, all he used for ID was the name of a well known website.
So if you’re at to the World Cup, and you’re thinking of using my site’s name to get into the ground illegally, go for it.
The ICC now condone this.
All I went is pictures of you sniffing Ramiz Raja’s hair on the ground.
Ofcourse, if you get arrested, shot or beaten by Peter Borren, the comments about you going into the ground an saying cricket with balls was meant purely as a satirical joke on the afore mentioned incident.
Anytime South Africa lose in a world cup, the choking tag is used. Not to say they haven’t earned it, but it does get a bit much. And since I say it more than most, I know it’s a bit much.
So instead of deciding on whether South Africa choked or not, let’s pretend this was a match between Sri Lankan and England. Sri Lanka and South Africa have similar teams, both have essentially five front line bowlers, amazing top orders and their weakness seems to be the middle order.
If Sri Lanka had restricted England to 171, and then at the 30 over mark required 54 runs in 20 overs with seven wickets in hand, and lost, would you’d think Sri Lanka had choked?
Or that their middle order had simply not worked.
To me, there is a difference between a fragile middle order and a team who loses 7/41.
Sri Lanka’s chase was going along comfortable, they were above the run rate, had wickets in hand and their number five was finding it hard to score, but importantly still scoring at a rate that would ensure his team a victory.
Then they had a collapse, including a run out, and suddenly they had given England a sniff. This collapse was 4/3, and it hurt bad. It was panicky and ugly, but they fought back.
The game wasn’t over, and they edged their way up to the score with handy batting, yet again at a run rate that was enough to easily win them the match. This was a hard pitch to score on. When this 8th wicket partnership was together, four of their first five overs was from the fifth and sixth bowlers, who’d already bowled more than the 10 overs needed between them, and were now just taking overs away from the front line bowlers. The 8th wicket partnership had scored 33 runs in 9.2 overs, more than fast enough to get them to their total without needing risks.
Then they took the powerplay, and it was a mistake not to use it before the 30th over, a mistake that most teams would have made.
When the partnership was broken, all the tail needed to do was eek out another 12 runs from four overs with two wickets in hand. They’d built themselves into the second situation where they should have won the game. It wasn’t as rock tight as the first one, but with one half of the partnership well set, two wickets in hand, and a very gentle run rate to contend with, they should have won the game from there as well.
Now, if this were Sri Lanka, and you saw the panicky dismissals and two sudden collapses from a team who were chasing 171 to win, I don’t think you’d be wrong to say that Sri Lanka had choked under the pressure.
Not everyone would say it. Some would point to the batting powerplay, Broad’s bowling at the death and middle order as reasons as well, but without the pressure of the chase getting to the batting team, there is no way they would have lost this game. England did not bowl unplayable balls, they did not even use their main bowlers enough, their fifth and sixth bowlers took 1/76 in 16 overs while the three pacemen couldn’t bowl out and took 7/58 from 20.4.
Any team losing from this position did so because of pressure. England played as well, you can’t lose from that position without your opposition playing well.
Now think about South Africa again, and the choke meter (it’s like the crowd cheering meter, it doesn’t really exist) goes off the chart.
Millions use the word choke, far more than is really needed for a group game that has little meaning for the standings of the tournament.
That doesn’t mean they didn’t choke.
For South Africa to win the world cup from here would be one of the best performances in any world cup ever. They have to beat the tag, their own insecurities and their middle order whilst taking on the opposition.
They might not choke again in this tournament, they also probably can’t win it now.