It has been billed as the match of the tournament thus far. England play India on Sunday for the right to, err, neither qualify for the quarterfinals nor be eliminated from the competition. That’s right, nothing really hinges on the result except perhaps momentum … yet then again, we all know it’s bad for a team to peak too early.
Back in 1992, England bowled Pakistan out for less than a hundred in the group stages only for the game to be washed out. The form of Imran Khan’s so called ‘team of destiny’ had been abysmal, but they squeezed into the next round by virtue of this ill deserved ‘no result’.
Come the final, England, who had clearly been the team of the tournament up to that point, played poorly and lost. The lesson? Save your best form for when it matters. Or alternatively, try to injure Wasim Akram before the start of play.
However, although the competition is still in its infancy, I really don’t want England to lose to India. The ramifications of defeat aren’t too bad – our matches against Bangladesh and the Windies will probably decide if we progress – but from a cricket bloggers’ point of view we desperately need something to get excited about.
Thus far, nobody seems to give two hoots about the World Cup. If we lose to India, levels of apathy are likely to exceed those of first year students to lectures. The problem, of course, is that us fans, like the England players, are totally exhausted after the Ashes. The team and supporters have nothing left to give. We’re totally burned out.
The five minutes between the tour of Australia and the start of the World Cup wasn’t enough to recharge the batteries. Consequently, we’ve got nothing to write about, nor the desire to write about, anything other than the fact that there’s nothing interesting to write about. An England win on Sunday would give us a much needed shot in the arm.
It must be hard being a professional cricket journalist. You’ve got to approach every contest with enthusiasm (even if it’s fake) and pretend that every game is significant. And if your audience isn’t excited, then it’s probably your job to generate some excitement – otherwise everybody will turn over to the indoor bowls on BBC2.
If we lose to India on Sunday, Sky won’t have to worry about people turning over to the bowls during subsequent England matches – they’ll already be watching it. Public interest in the World Cup might be revived if, by some miracle, we reach the quarterfinals, but I wouldn’t bet on it. That’s when England normally get eliminated
In our opinion, only a run to the final would capture the public’s imagination – and we all know that’s about as likely as Colonel Gaddafi resigning magnanimously and telling the world ‘I’ve had a good run’. If England get smashed for 350+ tomorrow and our run chase flounders like a Libyan dictatorship, the World Cup will be dead as far as England fans are concerned.
That’s why, from our perspective, England desperately need to win Sunday’s all but irrelevant game.