And just like that, England–the team I didn’t think had a chance–are through to the knockout stages after a convincing albeit unentertaining win over New Zealand today in the Welsh wind and rain.
They are through on their own merit, don’t get me wrong, they did what they were supposed to do: they won their matches. But they are also through because it rained, as all three other teams had a match abandoned due to rain. If New Zealand had gone on to beat Australia had gone on to beat Bangladesh, the table would look like this:
New Zealand: 2
Meaning England would have had to beat Australia on the final day in order to maybe squeak into the knock outs on Net Run Rate, as they certainly couldn’t rely on Bangladesh beating New Zealand.
But it rained, and England are through, and Australia are on the outside looking in, and New Zealand are in deep trouble, and Bangladesh are in with a shout. Who could have predicted that? Not me.
Now while some might be upset at how the rain has thus far affected the tournament, and that it’s a shame that Australia–the number one ranked side in the world and the World Cup trophy holders–could be packing their bags early, they really isn’t much to complain about. Rain is a part of cricket, it’s in the marrow of its bones. It’s another subplot to this game we love because it is full of so many subplots, layers, tunnels within tunnels. So while I understand complaints about the farcical ending to the Australia-Bangladesh match, that’s on Duckworth-Lewis, not on the rain, and it certainly isn’t on England. I mean, it’s not like they cheated. They won their matches, it rained, and they are moving on.
Plus now they get the added benefit of potentially knockout the Old Enemy out of the tournament in what would otherwise be a dead rubber. And nobody likes a dead rubber.
Speaking of that, what are the implications here? Who goes through?
Here’s how it shakes out (all of the below assumes a New Zealand win):
If England beat Australia, then England and New Zealand go through.
If Australia beat England, then England and Australia go through.
But since this is the 2017 Champions Trophy and it’s June and it’s the British Isles, you have to assume rain.
If England beat Australia and the Bangladesh-New Zealand match is abandoned, then New Zealand (probably) squeak through via NRR.
If Australia beat England and the Bangladesh-New Zealand match is abandoned, then Australia go through as before, Net Run Rate not needed.
Now, if it rains in Birmingham on Saturday and Australia-England is abandoned, then New Zealand go through with a win over Bangladesh, based on NRR (again, probably).
But, hey, since they have to play the games, I shouldn’t count out Bangladesh here: if they beat New Zealand and if England beats Australia then, yes, Bangladesh goes through. Holy hannah now that would be something. I’d avoid the Aussie bars in the UK for the time being if that happens, haha.
My prediction? England and Australia make it to the knockouts. Which is too bad, because I rather like New Zealand.
Tomorrow brings us more matches from Group B, and it feels like it has been years since we have seen these teams. Pakistan against South Africa is tomorrow with India against Sri Lanka the next day. South Africa and India are through to the knockouts with wins, which makes these must win matches for their opponents. I think Pakistan are out, but I wouldn’t bat an eye if Sri Lanka put up a fight.
Unless it rains, of course.