Tag Archives: West Indies

Team Analysis for the Worldcup

The magazine Sportstar has done an analysis of theWorld cup teams. This is what they have got to say –

India : Perfect blend of youth and experience

The key is to do well in the first stage, where India often struggles to maintain form, so as to enter the second, better suited to India’s traditionally spasmodic style of play

Australia : Adapatbility is its forte

An eternal favourite, Australia will be the team to watch. For sheer consistency and quality of cricket, there is no team to match Ricky Ponting’s bunch of performers. History confirms that Australia has always been the team that has the character to win from hopeless situations.

West Indies : Consistency elusive

As host, the burden of expectations will be on the West Indies. The Brian Lara-led side is not without ability, but has, in the run-up to the World Cup, lacked consistency.

Sri Lanka : A side with good balance

The one significant advantage Sri Lanka has, going into the World Cup, is that none of its players are carrying injuries. The roster of casualties is long for other countries, particularly Australia, and for a side ostensibly loaded with geriatric men Sri Lanka isn’t doing too badly

South Africa: Attitude is the question

Four years ago, the South Africans got the Duckworth and Lewis arithmetic wrong on a rainy night in Durban; the team-management had blundered. This time Caribbean sun could shine on them

Pakistan: Enigmatic ensemble

There is reason to believe that Pakistan has a realistic chance of winning the World Cup. It may be an enigma, but it surely is a strong contender for the title, provided the players discover the collective way to dominate and not depend on individual brilliance

New Zealand Peaking at the right time

Stephen Fleming’s New Zealand has the variety and the depth to mount a serious challenge in the World Cup. It is one of the strong contenders for a place in the semifinals

England: Vaughan’s fitness vital

The first World Cup final victory can be a turning point in the English game’s history. It can obliterate the memories of more than 35 years in which they have underperformed and wipe out the dreadful defeats in Australia this winter

-Mahesh-

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Impressive win against West Indies

I agree the warm-up games are meant to be, well, warm-up games and do not count in the statistical scheme of things. Having said that, India played extremely well to win their game against the West Indies today. Importantly, these warm-up games have turned out to be extremely valuable for the likes of Irfan Pathan and Dinesh Karthik. Irfan Pathan impressed me quite a bit this morning with his spell of six overs. He mixed it up well (with the occasional real wides ones!) and, as he himself said in a interview with Jeff Dujon, he was able to get some swing and his in-dippers were beginning to reappear. Most satisfyingly, he is back at his best taking wickets. Munaf Patel bowled beautifully and I continue to maintain that he will end up being a true great (assuming he remains fit). Indians were at their smartest fielding and catching.

Virender Sehwag continues to be the disappointment. With Robin Uthappa more or less establishing himself a place in the eleven at least in the early part of the campaign, I would not play Sehwag in the XI especially as an opener. Dinesh Karthik played and missed quite a bit but hung in there to see India through. Michael Holding and Tony Cozier had very nice things to say about him — considering him as an “important” player for the future. He spoke very well at the end in an interview with Tony Cozier — a possible future India captain in the making?

Well, India walk into the tournament in the best position they can be in with respect to form and mindset. Good luck to them. My XI for the game against Bangladesh would be:

Sourav Ganguly, Robin Uthappa, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, M.S. Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel.

– Srikanth

Should the minnows be in the World cup?

Different captains have different opinions. Dravid thinks they should play. Ponting says they should not:

“I’ve always felt there are probably places and times for minnow nations to be playing. I’m not sure if the World Cup and the Champions Trophy is one of those times”

which is completely different to what he said four years ago, when asked if they should play in the World cup:

“They definitely have a place. The game has to be strong worldwide. The developing countries such as Holland, Kenya, Bangladesh and Canada, you play against them in other tournaments as well, not only in world cups. It’s good for cricket when you see them improving over time”

Speaking to a Bermuda newspaper, Michael Holding has even said that they diminish the World Cup. Do they really? Kenya was/is considered a minnow, but they made it to the semi-finals last time. South Africa, the current No. 1 ranked team and host didn’t. Zimbabwe is considered to be one of the minnows, but in the ’99 World Cup, they made it to the Super 6s. England didn’t.

The World cup has always had the minor nations participating and it gives them the chance to rub shoulders with the big boys and even pull a few upsets. Bangladesh have beaten Pakistan. Zimbabwe have beaten South Africa. Kenya have beaten the West Indies, and so on. One similar upset in this World cup could actually see ICC’s well orchestrated Super 8 schedule thrown into disarray. This can only be good for the game.

The argument for not having the minnows is that we may have mismatches where the minnows get beaten so badly that it has the potential to demoralize and damage the team. The other big argument is that the tournament now takes too long as we have too many teams. Both are valid reasons.

But the counter argument is that the ICC have been trying to spread the game and to do it they need the money…and publicity – which the World cup provides. And this reason far outweighs the occasional big defeat or a long competition. Read this article which talks a bit more on this subject. It says :

In order to grow the game in any country, money is required. And the easiest way to gather money in sport is to put it on television. So Ireland, Scotland, Holland and Bermuda can offer their sponsors television coverage and, consequently, command a far greater sum of cash

I believe we need to come to a middle ground somewhere. My solution is to split the World cup into a preliminary round where the minnows fight it out with all teams ranked 7 and over. If we go by the current World rankings, it means England, West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe would have to play Kenya, Scotland, etc in the preliminary round. The top two or three teams then get into the main round with the top ranking teams.

This means that the World cup campaign will be longer for the low ranking teams, which I think is actually good – it gives them the opportunity to play more and improve. The higher ranked teams have a shorter tournament and everyone is happy.

This debate on whether the minnows should play or not has gone on far too long. I hope the ICC changes the format of future World cups and puts an end to it.

Let me finish off with a link to a BBC Sports article on the minnow’s realistic chances in the World cup. My opinion – they don’t have a chance beyond the group matches. But hey, Good luck to them and may they cause an upset or two!

-Mahesh-

More accurate Super8 schedule?

This appears to be the most likely schedule for the Super8s we may end up with. The ICC obviously planned this schedule but didn’t publish it because there is always the potential for an upset in the group stage. It appears that the earlier article I wrote was a misinterpretation of how the seeding rules apply.

Aus RSA SL Ind NZ Eng Pak WI
Aus Apr 16 Mar 31 Apr 20 Apr 08 Apr 13 Mar 27
RSA Mar 28 Apr 07 Apr 14 Apr 17 Apr 03 Apr 10
SL Apr 16 Mar 28 Apr 12 Apr 04 Apr 18 Apr 01
Ind Mar 31 Apr 07 Apr 02 Apr 11 Apr 15 Apr 19
NZ Apr 20 Apr 14 Apr 12 Apr 02 Apr 09 Mar 29
Eng Apr 08 Apr 17 Apr 04 Apr 11 Apr 21 Mar 30
Pak Apr 13 Apr 03 Apr 18 Apr 15 Apr 09 Apr 21
WI Mar 27 Apr 10 Apr 01 Apr 19 Mar 29 Mar 30

-Mahesh-

Unravelling the Super8 schedule!

After the Rediff expose of the ICC schedule bungle — perhaps as a result of an overzealous website editor/copywriter — I did some thinking on the nomination of the teams as A1, A2, B1, B2, etc.

For a brief period the ICC schedule website, had the following rule in it (copied from Rediff who were quick enough to clip it from there!):

    Team names for the Super Eight stage are indicative based on the top two teams from the Group Stage qualifying. If these two teams do qualify they will be seeded in position 1 or 2 as specified regardless of whether they finish first or second in their group. For example, if South Africa wins Group A and Australia comes second, for the purposes of the Super Eights, South Africa will still be A2 and Australia will be A1.

Note that the ICC runs two schedule websites, here and here — the latter being the website being run for the ICC by its official Internet partner, http://www.indya.com!

Let us think this through logically. The Super8 stage is a league where every team plays every other team apart from the one from its own Group (which it would have played already and carried over points from). So, it doesn’t really make a difference which team is named A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D1 and D2 — given that they will all play each other! For example, even if India wins all its 3 group games and tops Group-B, it would not make a difference if India is named B2 and Sri Lanka (say) is named B1 — as long as India carries over 2 points into the Super8 stage.

Now, why would the ICC want to label India as B2?

Easy. If the ICC did that, India would play most of its games on Saturdays or Sundays. Big TV audience. Big moolah! Clever.

The ICC would maximise its TV revenue if it labels the teams in the following way (assuming no upsets in the Group games by the 8 minnows that are just there to make up the numbers and fatten the stats).

    A1: Australia
    A2: South Africa
    B1: Sri Lanka
    B2: India
    C1: New Zealand
    C2: England
    D1: Pakistan
    D2: West Indies

This will mean that marquee games (or showcourt games) that would have larger TV audiences would be on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays! Note the strategically positioned gap in the schedule between the Wednesday 4th April and Saturday 7th April. That’s so that India can play South Africa on Saturday the 7th of April, if we follow the labelling as above. An alternative to the above labelling is that D1 and D2 are swapped — this would make a toss of a difference to the “revenue earning” games that matter — as far as the ICC is concerned! The swapping of A1 and A2 will also produce reasonable dollar results for the ICC — after all, is that not their main concern?

However, I am pretty confident that India will be labelled B2 and Australia will be A1, regardless of the Group results.

In the event that the labelling is as I indicated above, India’s Super8 games will be:

  • Saturday 31 March: Australia V India
  • Monday 02 April: New Zealand V India
  • Saturday 07 April: South Africa V India
  • Wednesday 11 Apr: England V India
  • Sunday 15 April: India V Pakistan
  • Thursday 19 April: West Indies V India

How convenient? This is smart, but devious of the ICC, in my view. Devious because I haven’t seen this transparently explained anywhere. In the absence of such transparency, most people would like to believe that the labelling follows the normal rule which would suggest that the leader assumes first spot in the Group table…

— Mohan

Wise Words from Ranatunga

Ranatunga has categorically said that this is the strongest Indian one day side ever and is the side to beat. I have not had a chance to read through all the posts and comments on  this blog on the possible last four combinations. Having said that, I find it difficult to argue with Ranatunga’s selection of India, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand. The only side that I might have had different would have been West Indies instead of New Zealand. Home side advantage is a huge factor in the World Cup and particularly in the Caribbean. My prediction of an India v Sri Lanka still stays. It is interesting to note that Ranatunga has a very high regard for Uthappa and recommends that Uthappa open in all the games. I am not so sure I agree to his view that Sehwag should be up at the top, atleast, I am not convinced yet. What is most satisfying to hear is his comparison of this Indian side with the winning combination that he lead in 1996.

-Srikanth

A tale of captains…

I decided to have a look at the ODI and World Cup stats of the eight captains that are captaining the likely Super8 teams.

By the way, I have to acknowledge CricInfo for all the stats that I have compiled together — in this and previous articles. Where would we all be without this magnificent treasure-house of cricket data, information and knowledge?

First, their overall career ODI stats (organised in the decreasing order of batting average):


Name |M |Runs |HS |Avg |100s |50s |W |Best |BowlAv |
Ponting269985616442.48225831/1234.66
Lara2901013616940.54196242/515.25
Dravid3101004415340.01127742/4342.50
Inzamam37511665137*39.67108331/021.33
G_Smith1043683134*38.36622143/3057.07
Fleming2707684134*32.1574611/828.00
Jayawardene236618512831.7183472/5677.00
Vaughan77177390*27.70015124/2246.83

The first thing to note is that they are all batsmen. So comparing their bowling is hardly worth it. The only one from this list that does bowl — and that too, occassionally in ODIs — is Greame Smith. But it is hardly anything worthy of serious note. Smith and Vaughan are the relative fledgelings of the captains’ group — in terms of overall number of games played. It surprised me to see that Vaughan has only played 77 ODI games overall!

There appears to be a distinct clustering here. Ponting, Lara, Dravid and Inzamam belong to one cluster. They have batting averages around the 40s. Ponting and Lara have converted a lot more of their 50s into 100s. That could be explained by their position in the batting order as much as anything else. We observe that Dravid and Inzamam have a larger proportion of 50s against their names. However, their is not much between this group. With the exception of Ponting, whos is a mere 144 runs away, all of them have over 10,000 runs in the game! That is a sensational performance by any yardstick!

With an average close enough to 40, Greame Smith could claim that he belongs to this grouping. And perhaps he does. But I’d place him on his own. As far as I am concerned, the jury is out on him. This could be his World Cup. If it is, I would say that he belongs in the first grouping.

The remaining three captains (Fleming, Jayawardene and Vaughan) bring up the rear. In my view, Jayawardene has been a somewhat disappointing ODI player. He is a class act, but does not seem to have the wherewithal to convert his style and panache into high scores. He is one of the more frustrating players of our time. I thought Sri Lankan cricket missed a beat by not appointing Sangakkara as captain. How Jayawardene will turn out over the long run is anyones’ guess! But it sure is disappointing to see him in a clustering with Fleming and Vaughan. In my view, he is a better player than that and he is probably not as tactically-astute as Fleming or Vaughan.

Now for a look at the performance of the Super8 captains in World Cup games (again, organised in the decreasing order of batting average):


Name |M |Runs |HS |Avg |100s |50s |W |Best |BowlAv |
Dravid1977914564.9125
Lara2595611643.4526
Ponting28998140*41.5832
G_Smith31216340.3301
Fleming23722134*34.381211/88.00
Vaughan51395227.80020
Inzamam326438123.8104
Jayawardene131234511.180022/5665.50

Again, it is amazing how far ahead Dravid is from the rest! There is daylight between his performances (in terms of batting average) and the rest! One could conclude that the big match brings out the best in him. And that is not entirely surprising, given his mental strength, discipline, self-belief and sheer determination.

The disappointments in this list are surely Inzamam and Jayawardene. Maybe this will be their World Cup. Who knows?

— Mohan