Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Match Thirty two

England versus Australia.  Whatever the sport this is always a nervous affair.  With a day off work I could have parked in front of the TV for the day but instead I went out with my son for the morning.  Why?  Maybe I couldn't handle the nerves of an England vs Australia match but mostly I wanted to spend time with my son.

We got home in time to watch the last few overs of Australia's innings and with a score of 285-7 off the fifty overs (Finch 100) I felt confident England could close this one out.  However by the time I'd got my fishing gear ready and loaded the car England had been reduced to 53-4 by some excellent new ball bowling by Starc and Berendorf.  Vince went second ball, Morgan fell hooking, Root missed a straight one...By the time I was away in the boat things were looking much better with Stokes and Buttler pushing the score passed 100.  I thought to myself that if England could bring it home from here then I would have great faith that we could win the tournament.  But Buttler fell hooking soon after...

The rest of the innings consisted of short spells of hope punctuated by crushing wickets.  Stokes top scored with 89 but no one else reached thirty and the defeat was made less painless by it's inevitability.  By the end there was none of the pain and anxiety familiar to the England cricket fan, I had ceased to care.

Since then Pakistan have beaten New Zealand and Bangladesh saw off Afghanistan, both results pile the pressure on England who now have to win two tough matches to qualify.  The pre tournament favourites are now looking unlikely to qualify for the semi finals just a week after looking nailed on certainties.

What has gone wrong?  The defeat against Sri Lanka was terrible, this was a match we should have won comfortably and it is this that has heaped the pressure on England.  It's no disgrace to lose to an Australian team that are now looking like favourites to retain the cup.  However it is ironic that the Aussies used two  players who were banned for on field antics that were absolutely disgraceful yet an England star, Alex Hales, was left out of the squad for allegedly having a puff off field.  His replacement, James Vince has not been up to the task.  It's also ironic that England have struggled against top quality pace bowlers on seaming "English" style wickets.

So to qualify for the final four England must now beat both India and New Zealand, two teams in top form in this tournament.  As I said it seems unlikely even though it's still possible, the potential world champions should fear nobody.  If we manage to qualify from here then I will be confident that England can go all the way and win the trophy and what's more we will deserve it.

The parallels between this tournament and the 1992 affair are now looking horribly familiar, that time the favourites and host nation failed to qualify and Pakistan came from nowhere to win.  More about that another time.

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