Nick Teale - More Remarkable Games To Come
28 Feb 2011 - 15:48:45
On the weekend of the Carling Cup Final and a crunch Six Nations clash at Twickenham it would have been easy for England's Cricket World Cup match against India to slip under the radar.
The six-week competition is one of the most drawn-out tournaments in world sport and won't gather pace until the quarter-finals start on March 23. Having 14 teams across just two groups creates far too many games, many of which are incredibly one sided as Test nations overpower the ICC 'associates' who had to qualify for the World Cup.
That trend has only so far been bucked by Netherlands, who impressed against England. But even in that match Andy Flower's side comfortably chased down a large total which had been conceded by horrific fielding and the wonderful talents of Ryan Ten Doeschate.
Even if one of the associate nations manages to overcome a cricketing superpower, the number of games in the group stage means that the humiliated Test nation will recover in plenty of time to secure a quarter-final berth.
So when the teams likely to progress to the last eight meet in their group, the only impact the result will have is on the final group standings. The winner of Group A will take on the country that comes fourth in Group B, while second in each group plays the third-placed team from the other group.
All that said, when England met India on Sunday we witnessed one of the greatest World Cup matches there has been.
The genius that is Sachin Tendulkar appeared to have speared India to an ungettable total of 339. And before you say it wasn't ungettable, ask yourself this: did you think England even had a slight chance of winning?
Tim Bresnan bowled a superb spell at the end of the Indian innings to restrict their total from what could have been closer to 380. Jimmy Anderson, on the other hand, really struggled. But he is a class act and shouldn't be written off, despite struggling on previous trips to India. Jimmy will be a vital player for England in this World Cup.
Even more important is a captain who leads from the front. Andrew Strauss has had his critics in One-Day cricket before but he outclassed Tendulkar, the master of ODI batting, to give England a real chance of victory.
His dismissal sparked a collapse in the batting which swung the game in India's favour before Graeme Swann and Ajmal Shahzad earned a remarkable draw with some powerful hitting.
The Cricket World Cup might be over-drawn with too many one-sided games but at least the lengthy format guarantees a host of fixtures between the world's best nations, giving cricket fans much to look forward to over the next month.