Yesterday the West Indies beat England by seven wickets with, gulp, 227 balls remaining. Their attack wiped the floor England’s with batsmen and the Chris Gayle did what Chris Gayle does, scoring a lightning fast 77 off of 27 balls to chase down England’s total in just 12.1 overs. It was England largest defeat ever in terms of balls scored.
The result evened the series at 2-2 and so the trophy was shared. But I think the West Indies can and should claim the victory, while England and their fans can and should be very, very worried heading into this summer’s World Cup. The number one team in the world was handed two staggering losses by the ninth ranked team in the world. Sure, it was on Windies home turf, but still: worry.
This was supposed to be THE year for England. Hosting a World Cup for the first time in 20 years whilst simultaneously sporting the number one ODI squad and maybe the best English ODI squad in a generation. But. Chinks in the armor have been discovered. One loss would have been one thing, an aberration, hey it happens, but two losses plus the ridiculous victory thanks to some insane death overs by Adil Rashid has to create some deal of consternation among England supporters.
The pitches will be different in soggy England this June, but the coronation that was supposed to happen is now most assuredly in doubt. This is now India’s tournament to win, and New Zealand’s or South Africa’s tournament to spoil. England will need to settle down and play out of their minds just to make the final. I am not sure now if I see that happening. But, for a neutral, it makes for a more interesting tournament, a few more plot lines to follow. So no complaints. Sorry not sorry, England. Chin up.
The sentence above reminded me of one thing I needed to teach Americans about cricket. “Their attack wiped the floor England’s batsmen … ” You might think, on first glance, that cricket is more or less like baseball. But it’s not. In fact it’s the opposite. In baseball, the pitcher is on defense while the batter is on offense. But in cricket, the bowler is the attack, while the batsman’s primary job is to defend his wicket, scoring runs is secondary.
Now, this isn’t quite as true in one day cricket, but in first class it is absolutely true. And once this is understood, the game ceases to be like gentlemanly baseball or fancy golf and takes on this interesting and fantasical light, and you see the game in a whole new way, and that’s when you know you’re hooked.