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Thursday March 17 2011

It looks as if the England cricket team are finally being put out of their misery.  They are now 134-5 against the Windies.  Bright start but now they’ve crumpled.

Everyone is talking about how “tired” they are, but it wasn’t just the physical effort.  Their problem has been that after winning the Ashes, they were expected to carry right on.  Their problem was psychological as well as merely physical.  It’s hard to separate the two angles at the best of times.  With England now, impossible.

The thing was, while they were winning the Ashes, they were concentrating entirely on winning the Ashes.  Then, suddenly, that over-riding aim was snatched away from them.  The Ashes were done with.  They won them, but that’s not the point.  The point is, that was the Big Aim, to the total exclusion of all other aims, however immediately those might follow.  That’s the only way to win the Ashes.  But when a Big Aim has gone, you need time to turn your mental guns around and aim them at a new Big Aim.  And what was the new damn Big Aim, after the Ashes were done with?  Was it to win the one-dayers against Australia?  Was it to win the World Cup?  They were playing (and losing) those damned one-dayers when they should all have been having picnics with their WAGs and thinking about nothing at all, letting their subconscious minds adjust to the next Big Aim.

“Tiring” doesn’t quite capture it.  It’s like they were trying to do essential maintenance on a car and drive it at the same time.  It’s no wonder the wheels have fallen off.

They are now like people trying to do a full days work on no sleep the night before.  Because something similar happens when you’ve done three or four months of maximum effort, and are then expected to make more efforts without even a fortnight off in between.

Their subconsciouses have all decided.  The Big Aim is now to get bloody home and have a holiday.  Anyone who does well and causes them to have to stay out in India for another fucking week is a fucking traitor.  Their subconsciouses have all become a bolshy trade union.

Except Trott’s subconscious, because he doesn’t have one.  Trott is a robot.

Some say that, well, these preening bastards are paid top whack to do this kind of thing.  The Battle of the Atlantic was far worse, as is working in a call centre.  They should just get on with it.  Well, they have “just got on with it”, and they have done, if anything, amazingly well.  They tied against India, and beat South Africa.  Those were the surprises, not the defeats.  I wouldn’t put it past them to beat the Windies, even now, through a combination of sheer willpower (willpower being the conscious and brutal self-abuse that consists of over-riding the subsconscious) and the Windies getting a bit windy.

I see that Luke Wright is playing.  And Tredwell.  And Tremlett.  Good calls.  They picked the team consisting of the eleven blokes most eager (or least reluctant) to play.  It’s all about effort now.  Like I say, good calls.

England 243 all out.  Better than it looked like being.  Luke Wright a useful 44.


Okay I just had lunch with somebody, and I’m back.  Windies 140-5.  Pollard batting.  150-6.  Pollard out!  Bloody hell.  Looks like England could be there for another week.  Big stand.  Windies need twenty-one to win with four wickets left, going like a train.  England doomed.  Wicket.  Windies need 21 with three wickets left.  Wicket.  Wicket.  Windies need twenty with only one wicket left.  England favourites.  S.J. Benn run out 2.  England win by 18:

. W . . . . | . . . 1 . . | W . W . 1 . | . . . 1,W

By England’s standards in this tournament that wasn’t even close.  Go here for the scorecard.

Six of the Windy wickets taken by bowlers, Bopara and Tredwell, who didn’t play in the Ashes.  One run out.  And the other three?  Swann.  He of the dew-induced tantrum.  Two wickets in his last over.

England now need help from some of the other results.  If they lost that they were definitely out.  Now they’ve won, only maybe through.

So, the torture continues.  Will they get eliminated?  Torture.  They get eliminated.  Torture.  They get through.  Torture.

Australia won the Ashes, and then immediately won the World Cup in 2003, and then they did exactly the same thing again in 2007. (There was about six months between winning the Ashes and winning the World Cup in 1999). It can be done if a team is good enough and focused enough, although I suppose it was easier for Australia given that those Ashes series were played at home.

England now need to win three matches to win the World Cup. It’s possible. Sides have done it after making terrible starts before. (Pakistan in 1992, and Australia in 1999 for that matter). Under this format it is easier than under most previous formats.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 17 March 2011

Brian, you remind me of this. And you know how I feel about this game....

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 17 March 2011

How I feel about England at cricket…

Fan 1: What about last season?
Fan 2: What about it?
Fan 1: They were rubbish. They were f***ing rubbish.
Fan 2: They weren’t that bad.
Fan 1: They were f***ing rubbish last year. And they were f***ing rubbish the year before. And I don’t care if they are top of the League, they’ll be f***ing rubbish this year, too. And next year. And the year after that. I’m not joking.
Fan 2: I don’t know why you come, Frank. Honest I don’t.
Fan 1: Well, you live in hope, don’t you?

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 17 March 2011


The torture is being suffered by the England Team, having to spend yet another week away from home.

I am thoroughly enjoying it all.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 18 March 2011

I watched THAT game (from Fever Pitch) as a Liverpool fan. The following season Liverpool won the league and haven’t done so since…

As for the England cricket team. I’ve been waiting for a World Cup win since 1975.

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 18 March 2011

Bangladesh, annihilated by South Africa, out of it.  England through.  Australia (all out 176 against Pakistan) facing their first World Cup defeat since 1787.

Actually, though, Pakistan have probably been instructed to play as well as possible to begin with, to get the bets pouring in, and then crumble.

As I have said before, Pakistan could have been real contenders, like the West Indies used to be.  But they were bought off.  Real shame.

The commentators I have heard are being ever so tactful about Kamran Akmal dropping sitters but not himself being dropped, like nobody is being suspicious about it.  But everyone is, under the mega-media radar.  I don’t twitter, but I imagine the twitterings about the continuing bentness of Pakistan are just flying around.

If they lose this, the doubts will only grow.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 19 March 2011

Apparently Michael Vaughan thinks that the wicket and the Aussie bowling are such that they’ll win.  Plus, I would add, they will really want to, but Pakistan, also already through, won’t care.

Which will look bent even if it isn’t.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 19 March 2011

Australia’s strategy is to defend whatever they can score with a battery of pace. I can see Australia blasting out the tail here, if they can get to the tail. We will see.

If Pakistan win this, the quarter final lineup is likely Pakistan v WI, SL v England, Australia v India, and NZ v South Africa.

If Australia win, it is likely Australia v WI, SL v England, NZ v India, Pakistan v South Africa.

This are another set of permutations if the West Indies beat India.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 19 March 2011

And Australia lose, despite the bowling being quite good. Ponting’s captaincy continues to demonstrate that there are single celled organisms with more brain cells than he has, alas.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 19 March 2011

Now, India are playing the West Indies now. The West Indies are 0/27 chasing 269. I wonder how India feel about this. If they win, the quarter finals are what I gave above if Pakistan won. If the West Indies win, it is

Pakistan v England, SL v India, Australia v WI, South Africa v NZ.

I am not sure whether India would rather play SL or Australia. I wouldn’t think they would consider either to be an easy game.

One more thing is that the tournament rules state that any quarter or semi final involving India will be played in India, and any quarter or semi final involving Sri Lanka will be played in Sri Lanka unless it is against India. (The final is in Bombay). Sri Lanka would not be pleased if the WI win today though, as it would mean both that they have a much tougher game and they would lose their home quarter final.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 20 March 2011

And even more interestingly, if the West Indies win today, the semifinals will be the winners of Aus v WI and Pak v Eng against the winners of Ind v SL and SA v NZ, meaning the three favourites are on the same side of the draw and there is a relatively easy route to the final for someone else perhaps.

(If India win today, it is the winners of Aus v Ind and Pak v WI against the winners of SL v Eng and NZ v SA, which I think is a more even draw, and is certainly a tougher one for England or Australia).

Posted by Michael Jennings on 20 March 2011

And I completely muddled up how I expressed that.
(Brian, if you feel like deleting the previous comment?)

What I meant to say was that if the WI win today, the semi-finals are the winner of Aus v WI against the winner of Pak v Eng, and the winner of Ind v SL against the winner of SA v NZ, meaning the three favourites are on the same side of the draw and there is a relatively easy route to the final for someone else perhaps.

(If India win today, it is the winner of Aus v Ind against the winner of Pak v WI, and the winner of SL v Eng against the winner of NZ v SA, which I think is a more even draw, and is certainly a tougher one for England or Australia).

Posted by Michael Jennings on 20 March 2011

"Brian, if you feel like deleting the previous comment?”

On the contrary, I was thinking of making it a Samizdata quote of the day.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 20 March 2011

Well, at least I would then have the power to delete it myself....

Posted by Michael Jennings on 20 March 2011

And the West Indies collapse from 2/154 to 188 all out under the force of the Indian spinners, dashing Australia’s hopes of being given a relatively easy path to the final. Given that India’s games will all be at home from now on, one things that pitches will favour those spinners. India v Sri Lanka might be interesting, though, if it happens.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 20 March 2011

And the West Indies follow that up by being bowled out for 112, and Pakistan are 0/99 in the 19th over chasing that. So, Pakistan will be the first team going into the semi-finals, and will play India or Australia in that semi-final. It’s a shame Pakistan are so crooked, as they have played very well in this tournament and are obviously a very talented side. On the other hand, the West Indies have been awful, alas.

Australia v India tomorrow. If India wins that, we have India v Pakistan in the semi-final. That’s likely to be fun. (To be cynical, it is a game that would normally attract a lot of betting, although one has to say that anyone who bets on any game involving Pakistan needs their head examined).

Posted by Michael Jennings on 23 March 2011
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