Yesterday went pretty much as expected really. England were far too good for Afghanistan, it was always going to be thus, and the result was never in any doubt whatsoever. One could possibly argue that England’s innings started a tad slowly, but we were never really under pressure, and I doubt the opposition would have chased anything near 300 anyway.
I don’t like mis-matches as a general rule, but at least this one seduced like a gala bingo offer. England hit 25 sixes in their total of 397 – an international record for ODIs – and Eoin Morgan beat the record for sixes by an individual in an innings too. His 17 sixes in an innings of 148 in 71 balls was quite simply brutal. Rashid Khan, who conceded 110 runs in his 9 overs (another record), must have wondered what hit him. So much for Eoin’s sore back!
The one thing that struck me during England’s assault, which yielded almost 200 runs in the last 15 overs, was that it was a bit like watching a Mike Tyson fight back in the day. You knew that Iron Mike was going to win; it was simply a matter of how much punishment his opponent was going to take. A few winces later it was usually over. And one couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor sod lying on the canvas. At least he’d been well paid, however. Something, I doubt, Afghanistan’s players are.
So what did we learn from yesterday’s massacre – other than the fact that the broadcasters’ hyperbole knows no bounds? Once again I’m left scratching my head. We’re still waiting for this tournament to heat up, and it might not get much beyond tepid until the semi finals now. I’ll be amazed in anyone other than England, India, New Zealand, and Australia qualify for the semis now.
At least the crowd got some entertainment for their money yesterday. They must have been relieved that England won the toss and elected to bat, otherwise the game might have been over quite quickly. Afghanistan’s innings, however, was a bit of a non-event. Their only ambition was to bat out the overs and keep us in the field for the full 50 overs – something that would be frowned upon in club circles.
One can understand their desire to keep the score looking respectable in the circumstances though. And England probably bowled too short to dismiss them any sooner. The result was a kind of stalemate whereby people were simply waiting around for the game to end. All of England’s bowlers bowled ok, although I’m still not convinced that Adil Rashid is firing on all cylinders. His shoulder injury is a bit of a worry.
The day, however, will always be remembered as Eoin Morgan’s day. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that we often forget how good the skipper is because he’s surrounded by sexier names. Everyone wants to see Buttler, Stokes, and Roy, but they forget that Morgan has an ODI record that’s up there with the best: over 7,000 runs at an average of 40 and a strike-rate of 91. That’s quality in any era.
I just wish news journalists covering the World Cup, who obviously don’t know the first thing about cricket, would stop bloody calling him Owen Morgan. Do some basic research you numskulls. His name is Eoin. And he’s Irish, not Welsh.
Written in collaboration with BR Agency