Bangladesh beat New Zealand earlier today, and now the minnows who are longer minnows can go through to the knockout stage if England beat Australia tomorrow. That’s a mighty big if, and in a fair world Australia—who had two matches abandoned due to rain—go through because, let’s be honest, they are the better squad.
No matter what happens tomorrow, though, today is about Bangladesh. They knocked the World Cup runners up out of the tournament, and they did it not with style as much as with grit and determination—which is even more impressive. They had their backs to the wall at several points in their chase and they could have easily slumped to the loss and no one really would have blamed them, but the didn’t do that. They just kept coming at the Kiwis in a relentless chase that they had no answer for. It was an impressive and well deserved win.
The win for Bangladesh marks the third (!!) surprise result in this tournament, and surprise results just don’t happen all that often in this game. And I think those surprises have given this tournament a real boost instead of the usual slog through the group stages we see in other major tournaments. It’s a welcome change, in other words. Let’s hope the ICC sees the results and says something like “hey, we should keep this tournament around” and not something like “see, there shouldn’t be any associates in the World Cup.” For despite how fun this tournament has been (rain outs notwithstanding) taking the associates of the World Cup wouldn’t make it a better tournament, it would just water down its spirit. It would no longer be the World Cup, it would be the Champions Trophy II (Electric Boogaloo)—and no one wants that.
But I am making it sound here like Bangladesh never win. They do win. They made it the Quarterfinals of the last World Cup, and have won over 100 ODIs since their first in 1986. And they have won three out of the four they have played this year already. And they are ranked 6th in the world. There was lots of talk today about the Bangladesh squad that beat Australia in Cardiff 12 years ago, but there’s no doubt that the current side is better, and keeps getting better, and hopefully will keep getting better. It’s been said before but the future of this game rests not on Australia, England and India, it rests on Bangladesh, Ireland and Afghanistan. And that’s why this win for Bangladesh doesn’t mean there should be fewer non-Test sides in the World Cup, it means there should be more.
Today was a good day for Bangladesh, and it was an even better day for cricket.
Tomorrow, then, becomes a true quarter-final. Australia win and they go through. Any other result—including a wash out—and Bangladesh moves on. Then Saturday and Sunday bring us two more quarterfinals. What a fine tournament this has been so far, and we are just getting started, with six straight knock out matches to come.
Forecasts (all temps in fahrenheit):
Tomorrow in Birmingham (Australia v England):
Day: Cloudy with light rain developing later in the day. High 69F. Winds SSW at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 40%. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
Night: Cloudy skies early, followed by partial clearing. A few sprinkles possible. Low 56F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph.
Saturday in London (India v South Africa (this has gotten Match of the Tournament written all over it—and what a forecast!)):
Day: Sunshine along with some cloudy intervals. High 73F. Winds SSW at 15 to 25 mph. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
Night: Mainly clear early, then a few clouds later on. Low around 60F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph.
Sunday in Cardiff (Sri Lanka vs Pakistan):
Day: Cloudy early, becoming windy with a few showers later in the day. High 63F. Winds WSW at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
Night: Windy and partly cloudy early. Mostly cloudy with diminishing winds later at night. Low near 55F. Winds WSW at 20 to 30 mph. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
Not too bad all around!
Enjoy the cricket, everyone. Tournaments like this don’t come around all that often.