This World Cup will be the curtain call for a handful of modern greats who have been involved in the game as it’s developed into the game we see today, players such as Tendulkar, Kallis, Ponting & Murali will be looking at this as the last opportunity to take a much prized trophy home with them for the last time.
Much has been made of the 6 week tournament, and where its place is in the grand scheme of the game, and if it should even survive. Every world tournament will have its early round matches of minnows battling it out against themselves, this happens in football & rugby and is no different in this event, and we must remember that these teams need this trophy to help spur on the rise in cricket in their nation. Our memories only have to glance back at the first Indian team that refused to use attacking tactics in 1975 and were seemed then as minnows in this form of the game.
The cricket World Cup is an important, if not the only important trophy in cricket, and its history of the players who been before those that shall play on Saturday is proof enough that it should kept. You only have to sit back as I have done the last couple of days and watch the crowds jump the fence at Lords chasing Clive Lloyd to the balcony as he raised the first ever trophy, or the joy of Allan Border as his team raises him into the air after winning in India. More recently the joy in Australia and Adam Gilchrist batting his way into history in beating Sri Lanka in a dim lit final. The ICC has not helped the one-day World Cup with its constant changing format, but the players have made it their own, and everyone you talk to who loves cricket has their “moment” and it is this historical list of moments that means this tournament will always stand above any other.
In a 2 part series I shall be reviewing my TOP 4 for the World Cup finals and how they can win and lose in India.
AUSTRALIA, winners 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007
You can’t look past this team to win it again, maybe not as easily as they have in the past (Ricky Ponting having not lost a World Cup match since 2003) The Australians love this format of cricket, and showed this in the beating they gave England, that even after the dent to the national pride of losing the Ashes they still had the heart and ability to put away a very good English side 6-1 in the series.
Why They Can: the players are built for this game, Shane Watson is right now the best shorter format player in the World and will have this stage to prove himself even further, Brett Lee is the perfect senior head for the young bowling line-up. Much has been spoken about the turning wickets of India, but these are more likely to be IPL batter friendly which will help the Australians as they go deep down the order for batsman in Mitchell Johnson and john Hastings.
Why They Can’t: Batting Match Winners, they have lost a couple of greats in this department. And Shane Watson is magic when firing, but the well rested Ponting will need to become that match winner again if they are to have a chance. Losing the likes of Gilchrist, Hayden & even Symonds is a big hole to fill when you’ve lost a couple of early wickets. This coupled with the fact that teams no longer fear them as much as they have in the past, means they are now the hunted rather than the hunters a change in mind set is required for them to do well this time around.
The bridesmaids of this competition since joining in 1992, the memories of the almost catch, and that run out when victory seemed assured. Along with the great one-day players to have worn the Green shirt always has this team in the mix to win the trophy, and it seems at times they find new ways of stopping themselves. Much has been said of the retirement of Kallis in the wings and the team doing it for him, but this team needs to do it for themselves to exorcise the demons of trophies past.
Why They Can: This time around I feel they have a more complete line-up compared to past teams that relied heavily on the great players to get them though the tournament, this side with Duminy, Smith, Parnell, Steyn, Morkel and of Kallis. Batting is strong enough to drive up big scores on batting decks, the attack of Steyn & Morkel from each end is as dangerous a combination in world cricket, tag in Parnell as well as Botha on a turning deck and you have your closers. The leadership of Smith has shown he has a better understanding of his players and teams strengths and knows how to gain the most from them.
Why They Can’t: The ghost of World Cup’s past shouldn’t directly affect this team as many of them have no recollection of such a time, but like anything its pressure that produces these visions of failure in South Africa. The pressure of being the better team, with the better line-up. This pressure is put on them from outside the team, from its fans rather than themselves, in such a way they remind me of the English football team, all the quality but never able to produce when required.
That is part one of my Top 4 for the World Cup, Thursday I shall my final review prior to the first ball being bowled as well as my prediction of the who will in the final.