What a fun and unpredictable World Cup we have here.
On Sunday Bangladesh won its first match of the tournament, beating a lackluster, Dale Steyn-less South Africa who slumped to two losses in two matches. The highlight of that match — aside from the Bangladesh XI who played inspired, fun to watch cricket just like they always do, only this time they won — was the crowd. It was a sea of Bangladesh fans creating a really fun atmosphere. Even watching on a stream at my kitchen table as I wrote letters I could feel the energy steaming off the terraces. It was lovely. And it has been the seen of most of the matches so far. I guess that it is the blessing of having a tournament for a sport given global popularity by imperialism in the country that ruled that Empire. There are over half a million people of Bangladeshi ethnicity living in the United Kingdom, an influx that started in the 70s and continues to this day. The color and noise they brought to the Oval last Sunday is a testament to the life and culture they have brought to their new home.
Monday also saw a boisterous crowd of both Pakistanis and Brits as Pakistan shocked the cricketing world and beat England by 14 runs, batting for 348 which was too much for England to chase down, despite the first two centuries of the tournament from Root and Buttler. And, yes, this is the same Pakistan that were scuttled by the West Indies just a few days beforehand. And, yes, this is the same England that restricted South Africa to just 207 a few days before. Again, it is early days, but so far this tournament has not been an easy one to predict. I mean, who would have through that Joe Root would score the first century of the tournament?
Another first day happened today as Sri Lanka took on Afghanistan in Wales: rain. Something we can surely expect more of as the summer goes on. Sri Lanka won by 34 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method, giving them their first win of the Cup and Afghanistan’s second loss.
Tomorrow is a big one, as we finally get to see India play. They are taking on South Africa who are desperate for a win. It’s not a must win game for them, but it is a must win game for them. And they are going to have to do it without Dale Steyn, who has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament. So if South Africa do win tomorrow — which I do not see them doing — their World Cup might more or less be over with the sad news about Steyn this morning. He is one of those players everyone — except the opposing batters — likes to watch steam in. He makes the game more fun, and adds fire to every match he plays in, and it is a shame to know that we won’t see him bowl this World Cup. And even more of a shame as this was probably his last World Cup of what has been a wonderful career. It would have been nice for him to top it all off with some five cricket hauls here and there over the next few weeks. Alas.
More to come in what has been a great tournament so far. All those that predicted that the format would strangle the excitement and make for a dull World Cup have not been proven wrong quite yet, but we are getting there.