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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Cricket World Cup preview

It's hard to get too excited right now - this bloated tournament runs for longer than two Tour De Frances, and with 6 'minor nations' joining the test playing ones, making 16 teams - that's a hell of a lot of minnow flogging before the real action begins (Hands up if you even knew Bermuda had a serious cricket team? Hands up if in the last two weeks considered moving to Bermuda in a late bid for playing in the World Cup yourself?).

New Zealand are (of course) Dark Horses for the competition. We've got a long, proud history of making semi finals, and a long, embarrassing history of farking it up once we get there - can we go one better? Two even? Our key men will be:
- Brendan McCullum is being talked up as one of the best 'finishers' around, referring to his ability to push singles and hit boundaries to keep up with a required run rate, not cleaning up Macca's plate when he's full
- Shane Bond - if you've ever played an EA Sports Cricket game, you know how good Bond is, and now we've got the real thing - he took a bit of tap in the CB series, but came back spectacularly in the Chappell Hadlee - if he's fit, he'll win us games
- Macca is a man reborn, making the greatest comeback since David Tua (if David Tua ever becomes THE CHAMP!). His vast experience and enthusiasm will be invaluable, and he's bound to get one or two vital wickets at vital times and look delighted / sheepish afterward
- Taylor - the great white hope. There's been a lot of talk about how the young players will be the stars at this tournament - let's hope he's one of them, there's no doubt he's got the ability and temperament
- Oram - on the small West Indian grounds he's in with a real chance to become St Lucia Glaziers Association Man Of The Year. He's vital to our chances
- Vettori - still the best left arm offy around, and he ties batsmen into indecisive knots, keeping them from scoring, kind of like Winston Peters faced with a choice of mirrors
- Fleming - he's the best captain around, and usually puts the fear of god into his opposite number by looking fucked off most of the time. He was in crap form going into the last World Cup, but wound up scoring a lot of runs, including that majestic century against the hosts. It would be fitting for him to go out with a bang, if he is at last coming to the end.

I fancy our chances, considering the conditions are not dissimilar to those found in say, Eden Park or Hamilton with the slow pitches and short boundaries. First up is England, and while defeat isn't a compete disaster, it would be heaps better to win it. England are even more of an enigma than us, with a bunch of county cricketer journeymen along for the ride with the world class Flintoff and Pieterson (and Collingwood to a lesser extent). It should be a great match - pity the time difference makes viewing this World Cup in NZ as shithouse as it possibly can be, with the first innings in the middle of the night, and the second while you're at work - make the most of England v New Zealand falling on a weekend.

Have a great World Cup - stay tuned to your ever lovin' sport review nz for coverage that's sporadic, scattergun and stupid. Good luck

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