ICC World Cup 2015 – Semi Final time: limits stretch only so far

There is widespread agreement that art is very important. But it can be remarkably hard to say quite why, or what it is for…  

“Art is a tool which should help us to cope with a variety of cognitive frailties: it should help us to understand ourselves, empathise with others, guide us to morality, console us for our sorrows and function as an agent of hope.

– The Book of Life

 

And then there were only three games remaining in the ICC World Cup 2015.
New Zealand v South Africa, Tuesday 24 March, Wellington
Australia v India, (CORRECTION)  Thursday 26 March, Sydney
With the final on the weekend in Melbourne.

 

Is that important? Millions would say so. But why? Much like the Book of Life thesis above regarding art, sport can be a tool for understanding ourselves and others. We can empathise with the terrible burden of South African tournament history. We can imagine what it would be to live abroad for four months, living in hotels, departure lounges and cricket training facilities. We can place ourselves as underdog or as antagonistic morally bankrupt front-running sledger. We can think. Cricket, the real version, allows much room for thinking.

 

This tournament though, is of a limited version of the sport.

 

At this point, each game could go either way. And weather and pitch conditions will play a part, especially now that we’re beyond the Equinox.

 

In (CORRECTION) Auckland, both teams have batting dynamos in the 21st century model, both have crafty bowling attacks, both are capable in the field. Yet the batting of each has an element of the high wire act about it. Vaudevillian, outrageous, risky, and maybe too dependent on too few. The one match I’ve seen (part of) in person was India v South Africa. The limp run chase of South Africa that night was telling, particularly after AB de Villiers was run out.

 

India and Australia each seem deeper teams, in the sense that they are less dependent on any one or two players.

 

The fall of results has it now that one of South Africa or New Zealand will make the final. It would be wonderful to see BB McCullum, (or MJ Guptill – what the…?) or AB de Villiers go off like a Territory Day firecracker in the main event. But if they flop, the machines of either Australia or India will swallow them up. It’s high risk, high reward stuff. Imagine chasing 310 in the semi final and walking to the wicket as BB McCullum.

 

Which of the Australian or Indian machines will make the final is difficult to pick, too. The Sydney pitch, late in March, is playing low and slow. Australia’s World Cup spin bowling stocks are Kate Moss -thin. India’s players seem united and more focused than at any point since their arrival last November. They’ve made a point of calling themselves “defending champions” right from the off. It’s tight.

And while it’s easy to imagine a DA Warner slog-a-thon or some SPD Smith shuffling patience tearing the game away, it’s also easy to imagine R Ashwin and RA Jadaja causing trouble and S Dhawan and V Kohli batting on and on.

 

I’m hoping for three low-scoring games in which each wicket matters. Three games in which bowling changes, field placements, batting decisions are important.

 

But the high-risk high-reward style of play too often ends with a one-sided blow-out. The current idea seems to be that it’s worth trying to land a knock-out blow (and risk missing), because if you connect, you win.

 

And in a limited overs game, with each team limited to one innings each, there remains no opportunity to catch up. If it’s shown us anything, this limited overs World Cup has highlighted that a crash or crash through approach kills the contest.

And so, the limits of limited overs cricket are again revealed. Long live the Test match. Long live the contest.
My tip: India to win the Cup.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. Is it still going?

  2. Yeah it is Pete and it’s been fabulous (coz it’s got soul) and Clarke’s played 6 straight games

  3. E.regnans says

    There has been an element of the marathon about this tournament, but to labour that analogy, the finish line is looming.
    Hopefully weather is not too much of a factor; no one wants a final decided on obscure run rate / wicket calculations.

    MJ Clarke has survived til now (rather than thrived). We’ll never know what GJ Bailey could have produced.

  4. I have to tell you, we’re nervous as hell over here in Auckland waiting for the Eden Park contest this avo.

    Rain stopped (for the moment), tables being laid in the pub over the ready for a messy session, Radio Sport full of stories and predictions, memories of semi-finals past trying to be erased, fingernails already being assaulted….

    It’s going to be a rough afternoon for what’s being billed as what could be NZ cricket’s most important game ever. We hope so.

    (Though, as Mr Wilson points out, the limitations of this mode of cricket have been further revealed.)

  5. E.regnans says

    Ahh, g’day P Creswell.
    Sorry – yes – Auckland today, rather than Wellington as I incorrectly thought.
    Are you going?

    What an occasion. This sense of expectation and wonder is a hook, isn’t’ it?
    There’s an A.A.Milne Winnie-the-Pooh quote about that that I like:
    ==
    “Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”

  6. Aye, I’ll be there. Office up the road from the ground, so I’m getting the fridge organised as we speak.

    I like Pooh’s sense of anticipation. There really should be a name for it. But after his injury and replacement, the “A. Milne” reference just makes me even more nervous!

  7. Good luck today Peter. I’ve absolutely loved the way New Zealand have risen to the occasion. A win today will do wonders the games growth on middle earth. Just love to see the Kiwis become a major force in the coming years.

  8. Thanks T-Bone. That’s what we’re hoping…

  9. DBalassone says

    Turn it up gents! The Kiwis have been given the softest draw of all time, amassing massive scores on their sub-standard toy grounds with 40 metre boundaries. They could never host a cricket World Cup on their own, and yet are benefiting from the synergies of Australia hosting the lion’s share. And what’s more they get the home games (like they did in 1992) against Australia.

  10. E.regnans says

    www radio: http://www.abc.net.au/radio/stations/grandstand/live?play=true

    www text: http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-cricket-world-cup-2015/engine/match/656491.html

    And the AUSvIND game seems to be scheduled for Thursday 26th rather than tomorrow, as I thought in my error-strewn piece above.

  11. E.regnans says

    It’s a good one.
    Wickets matter.
    NZ 4/165 from 24
    Target 298 from 43
    S Africa need to take wickets.
    On GEM free to air if that way inclined.

  12. A bloody fantastic game. Watched it all day/ night. Well done New Zealand !!

  13. To quote RP McMurphy “Someone get me a ______g wiener before I die.”

  14. E.regnans says

    Just brilliant.
    What could be better than a low scoring thriller?
    A high scoring thriller.

    Well done all players
    And well done Duckworth & Lewis.
    But these NZ players carry themselves with that something extra. Confidence, maybe. Freedom. They are truly men in the arena, in the Theodore Roosevelt “Citizen in a Republic” sense. Daring greatly.
    Well done them.

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