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World Cup - Initial thoughts

The coming World Cup is sure to generate a lot of heat and attention, both among fans as well as the media. I will also be contributing my two pence worth of opinions as the action ensues. Please bear in mind that I am as good, or bad, an armchair expert as any and hence feel free to discount my opinions, hopes and predictions to the maximum extent. For those of you who are rabid cricket-haters, I shall be prefixing the titles of all my World Cup related posts with, what else, "World Cup -" so you can safely skip those without missing out on the usual heavily insightful commentary on life and its vicissitudes that I usually do not provide on my blog. Comments, while usually read with a lot of scepticism, are most welcome and might even be allowed to see the light of day if they do not rub me the wrong way.

With this, as Brokerage houses would say, I initiate coverage of the World Cup with sedate "NEUTRAL with a Negative Bias" rating.

First and foremost, I would like to state, at the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, that this forthcoming World Cup is very likely to be the boring-est ever, both in terms of the sheer number of pointless matches as well as the relative lack of quality in the various line-ups. Barring the usual suspects Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and to some jaundiced extent, India, there is no team that looks as formidable as it did in the previous edition of the world's most overambitiously titled sporting event.

In the last WC,Pakistan had Shoaib Akhtar at his prime bowling form, forget any other bowler they might have had, he was way more than enough, and Inzamam, Youhana, Afridi and RAzzaq at their batting best. This time, Shoaib and Asif are out and the batsmen are mere pale shadows of what they were in their heydays. And their fielding has dipped distinctly.

Sri Lanka had Jayasuriya, Atapattu, Jayawardane and Sangakkara in decent, if not good, batting nick and Vaas and Murali were ably supported by the Chandanas of this world. This time around, Atapattu doesnt exist and Tharanga is clueless while the others are clearly struggling to stay at the crease. So much so that Jayasuriya had to be recalled from retirement to shore up his team's fortunes. On the bowling front, while Murali remains his miserly self, Vaas has lost his pace and hence his sting and the pitches in the Windies are not going to do their pacers any good. The rest of the bowlers are not worthy of any mention. Their fielding, always a strong point for the islanders, has held them in good stead but with oldies like Jayasuriya, Jayawardane, Murali, Vaas etc in the lineup, it surely wont have the zing of 2-3 years back.

England is a team that I would rather not write about at all. Barring those 3 exceptions in the series down under, when they inexplicably managed to put it across both New Zealand and Australia, with two victories incredibly coming in the finals, they have been a bunch of strugglers the world over. Apart from Pieterson, they have no batsman who can lay claim to greatness in the future and honest triers that Flintoff and Colingwood can be, they do not have the look of men who can take a fight to the opposition and wrest the initiative. And a team dependent on one batsman to fire consistently, as England are on Pieterson, is akin to a certain team dependent on a little chap from Shivaji Park in the 2003 WC. The only difference being that Pieterson is no Tendulkar.

West Indies, hmm..well..err.. I cant find words to describe them, they are just pathetic. And its made worse by the fact that they are the hosts. Even Zimbabwe, as co-hosts the last time around, had a better chance.

Bangladesh, all talks of Asian tigers notwithstanding, the only team in the big league they are capable of beating is India, due to sheer hubris, if nothing else. Apart from that, if our neighbours manage to defeat any other top team, it will either be a miracle or a fixed match.

Zimbabwe and the rest, well unfortunately I can not even name 3 players in their line-ups. Suffice to say, they are all there to boost the numbers, of both teams playing and matches played, of course leading to higher revenues to broadcasters. Make no mistake; the turnstiles will remain barren as the Sahara desert. World Cup or not, no one is going to shell out a hundred dollars to watch Holland take on Australia in a mockery of a match.

My Semi-finalists -

Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England

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