Friday, March 4, 2011

The week 50-over Cricket was revived

As much as it pains me to say it as an England fan but Ireland's victory over Andrew Strauss' men was just the result this World CUp needed as it has breathed new life into a flagging competition.

The 50-over game needed a match like this, as well as the dramatic tie between England and India, to show an increasingly sceptical public as well as the administrators that this format of the game still has the ability to entertain.

The rise of T20 is seen as a replacement for One-Day cricket, which in turn was seen as the quick-fix, sugar coated alternative to the drawn out test match.

But One-dayers are now seen as boring in comparison with T20 and the critics do have a point. The middle overs between power plays can result in tedious cricket as batsmen simply knock the ball around to a field pushed back to the boundaries for ones and twos.

But doesn't that make you appreciate the better games even more?

The best one day games are the slow-burners that gather pace towards a dramatic conclusion. The India v England game was a case in point as Strauss and co kept ahead of the run-rate throughout their innings, resulting it that last gasp finish which delighted anyone following the cricket world cup betting news.

The Ireland game though eclipsed that, mainly thanks to that explosive century by Kevin O'Brien. It also answered those critics who have questioned the participation of the associate nations in the early rounds.

The Netherlands and Canada have both given test playing countries a scare while Ireland humiliated England - making the ICC's decision to reduce the next World Cup to 10 teams a questionable one, as cricket world cup betting upsets happen on a regular basis.

The problem for me lies in the scheduling of the international calendar. More and more T20 competitions are being introduced with no comparative reduction in other games, meaning the calendar is as jam packed as ever.

One-day cricket seems to be the one that is undermined the most. The ridiculous seven-match series between England and Australia tagged onto the end of a three month gruelling Ashes test tour a case in point.

This week has proved that there is still a place for one-day cricket. But the administrators need to give it space to breathe before it drowns in a sea of T20 infused hysteria.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

O’Brien hails record breaking ton

Ireland batsman Kevin O’Brien has declared his match winning century against England is the “best” he has ever played.

O’Brien hit a magnificent 113 and bought up his century in just 50 balls to record the quickest century ever scored at the World Cup as Ireland famously beat England by three wickets on Wednesday.

Chasing a total of 327 set by England, O’Brien led the way with a series of big hits including six 6’s and excellent support from Alex Cusack (49) helped Will Porterfield’s side beat England with five balls to spare.

“I chanced my arm, attacked and batted as positively as I could and thankfully it came off," said O'Brien.

"I kept going and everything went my way, with the odd bit of luck too."

Ireland, who made it past the group stages at the previous World Cup with a remarkable win over Pakistan, will now face India on Sunday on the same pitch, and will have real hope of upsetting the odds against the side that drew with England last Sunday.

O’Brien admitted that the scale of their achievement had yet to sink, while captain Will Porterfield praised his team’s effort after some bookmakers were offering free bets at odds of 400-1 midway through their response.

“(It is) the greatest day in Irish cricket history and one of our best-ever performances.” He said.

"We believed in ourselves and even at 111-5 we managed to bounce back - so all credit to the lads."

"There'll be a big party after this but we still have four games to go and have to produce more big displays." He added.

England now face the prospect of leaving the tournament early if they slip up against Bangladesh and fail to beat either South Africa, who they play on Sunday, or the West Indies.

A free bet on an England departure from the competition currently returns odds of 5-2 with some bookmakers.

Captain Andrew Strauss admitted he was “bitterly disappointed” with the loss and said England need to shore up their bowling if they are to progress beyond the group stage. He said: “They fully deserved their victory. We're bitterly disappointed, our World Cup is not over by any means but we've been haemorrhaging runs too quickly.”