The World Cup started earlier this week, and it’s already entertained. The first three matches were all routs, but in a fun way. England dismantled South Africa thanks to comeback kid Ben Stokes, while the most unpredictable side in the tournament — the West Indies — blew out the tournament’s second most unpredictable side, Pakistan. Then today New Zealand routed Sri Lanka, whose lackluster 136 barely topped Pakistan’s meek 106, while in Bristol its the innings break right now as Afghanistan who won the toss and selected to bat have put up a respectable but not quite par 207 against Australia.
It’s early days, of course, but England remain the only team to top 300 this tournament. They did what they needed to in that first match which was simply WIN. A loss would not have eliminated them from the knock-out stage, but it would have been deeply damaging to the psyche of the team and their fans. But now things can start to roll downhill for them as the country gets behind their hometown XI. And to finally have Ben Stokes back in form might be the final boost they need. Meanwhile South Africa has to be a little worried about their bowling, as does Australia, who let Afghanistan claw back to 207 after having them on the ropes at 77 for five.
And the West Indies? No one has literally any idea. They could do anything: win the whole damn thing or lose all the rest of their matches. Seriously, no clue.
All that and we still haven’t see India take the field in this tournament. And if they aren’t your favorites you haven’t been paying attention. They play their first match on Wednesday against South Africa, a test for both teams. That match is in Southampton which has yet to host game, so no sure thing on how that pitch will perform. That’s probably the marquee match of the week, followed by Australia versus the West Indies on Thursday, and Australia versus India on Sunday. Down the road, the big one everyone is looking toward is India versus Pakistan on June 16 and then India versus England on June 30.
Like I said, very early days, the semi-finals don’t happen until the 9th of July, so there’s lots of times for the favorites to rise the top, and for those that have stumbled this week to find their way back. Yes, the tournament is long. Maybe too long. But I don’t know. With the length of it, you have time and space for stars to rise and stars to fall. For villains and heroes to come out of nowhere. For stories to be told. And not short stories, but whole novels. There will be a fully formed and fleshed out narrative to this tournament. With characters you grow to love and characters you grow to hate, but either way characters that you know inside and out. And the tournament is a great way to learn the game, or at least this format of it, as there simply be so much of over the next month and change. It comes down to this: not everything in this world has to be so damn quick and efficient. It’s okay to take your time. It’s summer in England. The sun is out in Bristol. Let’s settle in and watch some cricket.
Until next time.