Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Cup Runneth Over

It’s been 2 days since India lifted the holy grail of cricket, but I’m pretty sure the celebrations are still very much in full swing – as they should be. In fact…I won’t be surprised if India’s population increases by 10%…9 months from now ;-)
After the Proteas’ hiccup at yet another knockout stage, most South Africans were tempted to “switch off” from the World Cup. However, the past month and a bit has definitely restored the 50 over game to its former glory – with India’s spirit, fight and passion leading the charge.
As South Africans we appreciate these attributes and as such, quite a few of us jumped on the Indian bandwagon. In addition, for the couple of months that they were here, we could sense Gary Kirsten was nurturing the goose that would (eventually) lay the golden egg.
It’s for these very reasons that I was so (constructively) critical of India’s performances during the group stage. While I obviously wanted the Proteas to “exorcise their demons”…India’s threat, however, was like that annoying fly which always seems to just bother you in a room full of people.
Sri Lanka’s efforts should not go unnoticed though. As always they played their unique brand of cricket…with their unique brand of players and in Kumar Sangakarra, they have one of the most distinguished cricketers the game has ever seen.
As for the other teams, well let’s see…
  • Australia were present, but somehow…they left their “aura of invincibility” back in 2007. Ponting managed to end off the tournament with a bang, but sadly one still feels his best days are behind him. In addition, Australian cricket in general is in a decline and for the benefit of the game, let’s hope this doesn’t continue for too long.
  • Pakistan, as always…confused us all with their form during the group stage, but managed to fix this when it mattered most i.e. knockouts. Afridi’s bowling and captaincy was awesome, however, he still bats as if though it’s taboo to receive a dot ball or hitting it along the ground.
  • England provided us with the most entertainment, but in the end…even a clown loses energy at the circus. Apart from a quarterfinal thumping at the hands of Sri Lanka, every other game was like one box office hit after the other. Throughout all of this though, Strauss’ prudent captaincy came to the fore and I must admit…I’ve got a new found respect for the guy.
  • New Zealand…mmm…they kicked out South Africa, so I really don’t want to praise them, but it has to be said…they’re indeed the “street fighters” of world cricket. They’ll always be the underdogs (except for when they’re playing minnows) and they’re quite comfortable with this label. The way they make the best of the abilities & talent at their disposal is admirable.
  • West Indies as I’ve said before are progressively declining. Without Gayle & the Bravo brothers…they’re just as useful as a Japanese holiday voucher. I don’t know what’s more depressing…watching them play or knowing that West Indies cricket is indeed…dead.
  • Lastly we have the “minnows”…Ireland and Bangladesh had exciting wins over England and together with (maybe) Zimbabwe…are probably the best of the lot (worse), while Netherlands once again proved Ryan ten Doeschate stands out like an all English-born cricket team. Kenya had a better chance sending their long distance runners, while Canada fielded a world eleven…with disappointing results.
In conclusion…it was an awesome World Cup, which provided us with memorable moments, but also gave us the last opportunity to see the greats of the game in action…Lee, Ponting, Muralitharan, Kallis and of course, his highness…Tendulkar!
So…thanks for supporting and commenting on my blogs during the World Cup and I’ll continue to (hopefully) entertain you all going forward, after all….it’s IPL season :-)
Sharief ‘Sheriff’ Allie for DieHard Cricket Fans

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