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What competition?

24-Feb-2015
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World Cup 2015 results so far:

Match 1: NZ vs SL, NZ won by 98 runs
Match 2: Aus vs Eng, Aus won by 111 runs
Match 3: SA vs Zim, SA won by 62 runs
Match 4: Ind vs Pak, Ind won by 76 runs
Match 5: Ire vs WI, Ire won by 4 wickets and 4.1 overs
Match 6: NZ vs Sco, NZ won by 3 wickets and 25.1 overs
Match 7: Afg vs Ban, Ban won by 105 runs
Match 8: Zim vs UAE, Zim won by 4 wickets and 2 overs
Match 9: Eng vs NZ, NZ won by 8 wickets and 37.4 overs
Match 10: Pak vs WI, WI won by 150 runs
Match 11: Aus vs Ban, NO MATCH NO RESULT
Match 12: Afg vs SL, SL won by 4 wickets and 1.4 overs
Match 13: Ind vs SA, Ind won by 130 runs
Match 14: Eng vs Sco, Eng won by 119 runs
Match 15: WI vs Zim, WI won by 73 runs

The ICC complains about a lack of competitiveness, and is using that as an excuse to restrict the next world cup to the 10 “full” members. A cursory look at these results shows that competitiveness and close finishes are by no means guaranteed when the 10 full members are playing each other.

The opening matches, all between full member teams, were routs. New Zealand won comfortably by almost a 100 runs against Sri Lanka, who fought, but the outcome was never in doubt. Similarly, Australia thrashed England by 111 runs in a match where the English batting lineup folded like a bad hand, with the notable, tragic exception of James Taylor. Where was the English competitiveness?

The first match involving an associate member, West Indies vs Ireland, saw a confident, assured Ireland dismantle an out of form West Indies. It was the first successful run chase of the cup, and was a delight to watch. There was no doubt that while West Indies managed a decent score, on the backs of Lendl Simmons and Darren Sammy, Ireland was by far the better side. 

The biggest rout so far has been England against New Zealand. This could have been thanks to one of those lucky days of glorious form for Tim Southee who ravaged the English lineup and came out with 7 wickets. When New Zealand came out to bat, the demoralized English bowlers defending an atrociously low score were mercilessly beaten all around the park by Brendon McCullum, and lost by 8 wickets. Compare this to New Zealand versus Scotland, where after posting a similarly low score, Scotland took advantage of New Zealand trying to mop up quickly, and took as many wickets as were thrown away. Scotland lost, but only by 3 wickets, with more overs remaining than England to boot.

A final example: West Indies, smarting from an Irish defeat, set a similarly respectable target for Pakistan. An out of form Pakistan was easily routed, and lost by 150 runs. Competitiveness? Looking at another West Indies win, consider their match against Zimbabwe, the weakest full member that regularly plays matches against the other associates. When facing the largest target of the world cup so far, 372 (363 after rain and Duckworth-Lewis), and the early fall of wickets, Zimbabwe fought and finally were all out for 289, losing by 73 runs. Till the fall of their last batting pair, there was a very real sense that Zimbabwe could have won. This is competitiveness. This is competition.

Only 10 teams for 2019? No, thank you.

When upsets are regular, they cease to be upsets, and are simply indications of quality. Associate members have proven they can provide fine quality, so there is no reason to restrict them from the 2019 event.

ICC, take note.



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