The World Cup win

I’ve been quite surprised at the online reaction to England’s Cricket World Cup win last night. So many calls that Stokes’ inadvertent extra boundary shouldn’t have counted, or should have counted for less (fewer?); so many people saying that the final outcome being decided by the number of boundaries in the game was “unfair” or “too arbitrary”.

Allow me a couple of points, if you will.

Firstly, it’s fine to be irrational, as long as you know you’re being irrational. Sport brings out the irrational side in a lot of people, and yesterday’s game encouraged it even more simply because it was so spectacular, so topsy-turvy, so big: and so damn close. The fact that it was played in such great spirit and with such gracious sportsmanship only adds to the emotion, and to the belief that neither side deserved to lose: that they should have simply declared it a draw (which is clearly hugely irrational, but it’s ok, because I know that I’m doing it).

Secondly, it’s really not “unfair” or “arbitrary” to decide a game in any given manner, just so long as the participants are aware of the rules ahead of time. It would be ridiculous to get to a tie at the end of the Super Over and then choosing a method to decide the winner. I’m sure that no-one could have believed that it would ever come down to how many boundaries each team had scored, but since there was a chance that it might, maybe Kane Williamson (yes, lovely guy) should have rallied his team to score more boundaries. Mind you, since this is kind of the aim of the batting side in cricket generally, I’m not sure why they weren’t trying to do this anyway.

It’s unfair (and irrational) to cherry pick the method of deciding the game only once one gets to the stage where one has to. But still, people thought they’d give it a go. Some other suggestions to decide the game might have been: using the result in the round robin matches (England would have won), the overall net run rate (England would have won), relative positions in the ten team league (England would have won), wickets lost in the Super Over (England would have won), overall boundaries scored in the tournament (England would have won).

But those all seem to have been ignored, with many people seeming to have settled on the number of wickets lost in the 50-over final, which conveniently would have meant that New Zealand took the match, and with it, the World Cup. Of course, it we’d all known about that up front, presumably both captains would likely have encouraged their side to try and lose fewer wickets (which is – again – pretty standard stuff unless you’re raking in some dollars in from some dodgy bookmakers).

Of course, it simply comes down to anti-England sentiment. Which is why we have to hear about all the different original nationalities of the players every time we play.

Everyone: England should accept more immigrants and put them in positions of responsibility.
ECB does it.
Everyone: Not like that.

And which, of course, is rather irrational.

But we’ve covered that already, haven’t we?

So here’s a photo of the World Cup winning team, full of diversity (except that they’re all men, obviously), who scored more boundaries than their opposition yesterday.

Well done, boys!

The Groot Upload

I extracted the SD card from the camera to upload the photos from this weekend’s Cape Town 7s experience and was immediately confronted by all (or more) of the photos I took last weekend. These hadn’t been uploaded because the intervening 7 days were chaotically busy.

So, I sorted that, and you can see the results here.

From there, it was a fairly straightforward leap to yesterday’s amazing day out at the stadium. My photos are here.

Obviously, I don’t know what sort of show the Dubai or Edinburgh or Nuuk (?) 7s put on, but I have to say that what Cape Town does seems to be very well received by all those involved. (Although of course they’re hardly likely to turn around and slag the place off in these days of mutual ego massaging.) The atmosphere was amazing, the entertainment was superb, the rugby was absorbing and even the final was balanced upon a knife-edge right up to the final kick. This being my kids first 7s experience, it was always going to be that way – never forget Alex’s first footy match was a 7-0, and their first cricket match finished with an incredible SA win off the last ball after a missed run out opportunity.

This time around, England were the beneficiaries of the last minute miss, and really the only disappointment of the day was how few people stayed around to see the trophy presentation. ‘Bad losers’ might be a bit harsh, but after the phenomenal support and sporting reception given to all the teams throughout the day, that extra 10 minutes would have made a big difference, especially given just how tight that last game was. Sadly, all the photos of England’s presentation and celebration are against a backdrop of empty seats. That’s not how it was for the previous 9 hours, nor how it should have been for the last ten minutes.

As Tom Mitchell stepped up to take this second half conversion right in front of us, I remarked on how important it was going to be, and so it proved, being the 2 point difference between the teams at the end.

Sevens

We spent the whole day at the Cape Town Sevens at the Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town.

It was great entertainment, England won, and then the mardy Cape Town crowd deserted the Cape Town Stadium before the presentation of the trophy.

We stayed to watch. Then we had a look at the inside of a parking garage for a while.

Many photos (not of the garage). Tomorrow.

Good ball

Shared on twitter earlier, but (I think) deserving of some further degree of record for the sake of posterity (i.e. ISTOTBIDMPD), this Cricinfo.com description from the Afghanistan v England game in the World T20 today:

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After a disastrous batting innings, England bowled (just) well enough to get past the Afghans.
Other than this ball, of course.

Remember 2010…?

With the World Cup “kicking off” in Brazil this evening, everyone is going all misty-eyed over those Halcyon days in 2010 when we enjoyed Philip’s visit here. I’ve chosen to mark my memories with a photo of a free kick from the worst game I think I’ve seen since moving to South Africa – England’s bore draw with Algeria at Cape Town Stadium.

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England’s chances this year seem slim (not like in 2010, when they had a superb qualifying campaign), but perhaps because of that, they find themselves free of the weight of expectation. Or rather they did.
Up until about two weeks ago, everyone back in Blighty had completely accepted that this wasn’t a tournament in which England were going to go far; expectation – traditionally an albatross around the teams’ collective necks – was at an all time low and that was a Good Thing.
Sadly, about a fortnight back, someone in the papers noticed this and remarked on it, probably saying something along the lines of:

Without the fans’ expectations on their minds, England could actually do quite well in Brazil.

This in itself, raised expectations and thus was a self-defeating prophecy. But then again, maybe if people see that the low expectations of success have raised the expectations of success, and that that approach will, in turn, increase the pressure on the team and thus lower the expectation that they will do well, maybe they will do well.

Not that I want to raise expectations of that.

The other thing that has made the British press is the state of some of the stadiums going into the tournament, most specifically Manaus, where England play Italy on Saturday. Now, we saw some scare stories from hysterical journalists all over South Africa 2010, but it does seem that we were a whole lot better prepared than Brazil is:

Carlos Botella, head groundsman for the Royal Verd company which is responsible for the turf at Manaus and six other World Cup stadiums, has conceded that the game on Saturday, which will take place in severe heat and humidity, will be played out on a desperately inadequate surface.
“Frankly, Manaus is in bad shape,” Botella told the Associated Press. “We’ve started to implement an emergency plan to try to save the field and improve it as much as possible, but I don’t think it’ll be in good condition by the weekend.”

No worries, Carlos. You’ve only had several years to prepare, so yes, get that emergency plan into operation 72 hours ahead of the first game. We’d been playing football and rugby in our stadiums 4 months before the 2010 World Cup got started.

Worryingly, while I’m looking forward to having some footy back on the TV, I’m rather unexcited about the whole World Cup. Maybe it’s the time difference. Maybe it’s the fact that last time around was Just So Good.
I just hope that I can get into it soon. I’d hate to not enjoy the whole 4 weeks.