Thursday, 5 April 2007

World Cup misery

Slightly choked by England's last-ball defeat by Sri Lanka last night, which leaves them needing a few results to go their way if they're to reach the semi-finals, even assuming they can start winning themselves.
Still, after a World Cup which has so far failed to catch light, what with the Bob Woolmer tragedy, India and Pakistan crashing out, poor crowds and one-sided games, it was good to see a real contest. I thought England just about deserved to win, if only for showing such character in coming back from 12-2 and 130 odd for six. Bell's run-out looked a bit dodgy (did Jayasuriya actually touch it?) and Fernando's aborted last ball was an unnecessary piece of gamesmanship, so it would have been nice to see Ravi Bopara and Paul Nixon rewarded for their guts. Bopara looks to have it all - touch, power, and above all, a cool, cool head - while Nixon (I'll admit to some partisan feeling here, as he's Leicestershire's own) is everything a keeper should be - irritatingly gobby (but not abusive), in constant motion, and possessed of a bizarre style of batting all his own.
That said, I'd not be disappointed to see Sri Lanka win the tournament, because they're full of players who add a bit of individuality and colour to things. Of course Murali gets all the headlines, but Jayasuriya is the type of batsman to warm the heart of every village player. It's not that he isn't technically good too, just that his default approach to every innings - how can I set about hitting every ball out of the ground? - would be instantly recognisable on any park. And then there's Malinga the Slinger, whose javelin-thrower style is somehow far more thrilling than any classical, side-on, textbook bowling action. They'll take some beating by anyone.

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