Monday, 19 March 2007

Topsies and turvies

Has the world gone mad? A weekend of dramatic upsets and results and then this morning we hear that Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer is dead.

I'll start with the last piece of news first. Not much is known about Woolmer's death, and I think it is in poor taste to start speculating about causes (take note Radio Sport). So I won't. I will just say that it is an absolute tragedy and I feel very sorry for those close to him.

As Osman Samiuddin outlined in a very good an article (written prior to Woolmer's passing), Pakistan cricket has been in absolute turmoil lately. They conceded a test match by walking off the field; they have handled their two drug cheats with abyssmal incompetence; and management and selection problems have been rife. I don't believe I have seen a cricket team in such disarray since the New Zealand side of 1994/5 (the dope smokers, the drunk for a coach, the infighting).

None of this should take away from the performance of the Irish side that beat them on St Patrick's day. To tie with Zimbabwe seemed miraculous. To beat Pakistan defies belief. The Zimbabwe match earned cricket its first ever front-page coverage in the Irish Times. The paper still seems to be struggling to get up to speed on this cricket thing. Super 8 games against England, Australia and South Africa beckon.

Sky's live coverage of the World Cup has been very disappointing so far. If New Zealand aren't involved, all we get are highlights. The only way I was able to follow the Irish victory as it happened yesterday morning was via Cricinfo scoreboards and the Guardian over-by-over coverage yesterday morning. The Guardian was supposed to be covering only the Bangladesh vs India match, but swapped over in disbelief as that match wound down. My wife's entire family turned up at around 10am, and I probably appeared the rudest host in the world as I ignored their need for tea and cake in favour of sitting staring at my laptop pressing "refresh" every few seconds. I caught the highlights and the Irish look a fairly decent side too. Riall O'Brien was brilliant with the bat (and how Irish does he look!) while any 6'7" bowler who can consistently hit 135 kmph like Boyd Rankin can is going to cause problems. The team fielded like tigers too.

It says something when people turn away from Bangladesh upsetting India to follow another match. It is almost a pity for the Bangladeshis because their performance was perhaps even more riveting. Only two members of the side are over 24 years old and several appear to have outstanding promise. Mashrafe Mortaza seems to have bulked up since last time I saw him bowl and he consistently bowled at pace. Meanwhile 17 year old Tamim Iqbal genuinely looks to be a superstar in the making. I caught the highlights of his 53-ball 51 and he played some breath-taking strokes. Several times he seemed to get into terribly tangled body positions, only to be perfectly balanced when bat connected and sent the ball flying over the boundary. At other times he was just classical and powerful. If he reminded me of anyone it would be Virender Sehwag - with perhaps a touch of Andrew Jones.

Australia beat the Netherlands this morning and, as I write, England are closing in on victory against Canada. This is just as well. After the weekend's turn-arounds and upsets we need a little sanity and breathing space.

2 comments:

Marshmallow said...

I was barely over the loss to Ireland before having to stop myself from doing a backward roll in shock over Bob Woolmer's death. I'm still stunned.

And zomg yes, much disappointment in Sky's live coverage of the World Cup. I most certainly remember the coverage in South Africa in 2003 being better than this? Maybe they just expect none of us to be awake enough to watch it so they don't even bother with the coverage? Much annoyance!

With all of the upsets of late, the match against Kenya will be... well... more interesting than it should be. (Not forgetting their antics in the last world cup o_0)

Fred Heutte said...

Yes, all the games are available on Internet pay-per-view at Willow (www.willow.tv). This is available at least in the US, I'm not sure if there are international restrictions. This is run by an outfit of Indian expats in Silicon Valley and they do a fine job. I watched the Chappell-Hadlee and then signed up for the WC, $200 US or just under 300 NZD for the lot. A bit pricey for one go but it's a month and a solid half of cricket. You'll need a fast net connection -- at least 384K, they offer a test site to insure that your connect works, which is always advisable especially if you're on Telecom not-so-wide-band.

All the matches are live but also immediately available afterwards on full replay.

It's already been worth it for the fine NZ showing, six consecutive sixes from Gibbs, and fireworks this weekend -- Ireland over Zimbabwe and Pakistan (!), Bangladesh over India and Yuvraj's Revenge over Bermuda (and the redoubtable Leverock, hero for all XXL blokes :), the sad passing of Bob Woolmer, and that's only with a week in. Play-by-play on browser refresh just doesn't equate.

cheers,
Fred, the only person in Portland, Oregon wearing the Black Caps official hat :)