Saturday, January 22, 2011

Good Week, Bad Week

Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Stuart Broad, Zaheer Khan and Graeme Swann are just some of the players whose World Cup participation has been in some doubt over the last seven days as the absurd calendar takes its toll.
The bad news is that further players will certainly fall before the tournament starts despite the naming of provisional squads this week.
The good news is that the tournament has shrewdly built in a 44-game warm-up circuit before the real business begins with the quarter-finals. Key men need only be ready for the three matches crammed into nine days at the end of March.
Life Begins At 40?
Four decades since the first one-day international and plenty of silliness for the anniversary at the MCG. The boom in twenty20 has made a mockery of the infamous New Zealand v Australia fancy dress that marked the inaugural international in 2005, yet there was retro revival in Melbourne on Sunday.
Just a bit of fun or an indication that the 50-over format is no longer all that serious? It has been said widely that its future rests on a good World Cup.
But why? The number of 50-over games has declined somewhat in the last few years to make room for T20Is, but it remains far higher than in the first 25 years of one-day cricket. Sure the calendar could stand to lose a few matches but it maintains an appeal as a sporting and commercial spectacle.
If anything the problem is the other way around: it is the World Cup that is in trouble, and a good run of 50-over cricket is badly needed to save it. The last three instalments have been a shambles and the next in 2015 promises to be the worst yet.
One-day cricket will retain a large and interested audience, though perhaps at 40 overs. The World Cup cannot count on the same unless it does something to merit our commitment.
Bad week for...
Xavier Doherty
When the left-armer is the highest profile player to be dropped by Australia, you have to wonder how serious their challenge is.
Shaun Tait is unfazed - indeed he doesn't seem sure the holders need a spinner alongside himself, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Doug Bollinger.
'If you put that pace attack up against any in the world and I think it comes out No. 1," says Tait.
A first Test series win since 2006 should send a well-balanced squad to the World Cup with an added sense of coherence and confidence.
Unfortunately, that squad doesn't have a captain. Coach Waqar Younis has put forward the opinion that the PCB might select a captain sooner rather than later.
How did the lads react? By appointing a captain? Tush!
They have issued a notice demanding that Waqar explain his comments in view of a contractual obligation never to criticise the powers that be.
They remain the blazers to watch in 2011.

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