So the Cricket World Cup is upon us, and I’ll come back to the cricket below, but I first want to make note of the women’s golf tournament that concluded on Sunday.
The event was the Australian Ladies Masters, held at the Royal Pines course on the Gold Coast, and was won by Australian Su Oh. Oh is an Australian from Victoria, of Korea Republic (formerly South Korea) ancestry.
She did all that it takes to win a big tournament, held her nerve, played the right shot after selecting the right club and was a worthy winner.
However, it was her maturity under pressure that really impressed me — or, to be more accurate, making it look as if she was under no pressure at all.
She demonstrated this on the final hole of the championship, playing an excellent long shot with a fairway wood onto the final green, putting her in position for an eagle. As she was already two strokes clear of her nearest rival, Katherine Kirk, when she began the last hole, so she was clearly going to win with only one green’s worth of putting left in her tournament.
So the ABC’s on course reporter, Sandra Mackenzie, ran out to interview her as she made the “walk of triumph” up the final hole.
Sandra asked her how she was feeling, and Oh replied:
“Oh, I don’t know, mixed emotions really, just thinking about this putt, really.”
Sandra then congratulated Su on her overall performance over four days, before asking her another question, to which Oh made a non-committal reply, again indicating that the tournament wasn’t over yet.
Mackenzie, to her credit, recognised this was a participant that didn’t want to speak at this time and left her to it. Thus, Oh is young woman of extraordinary self-possession and I was greatly admiring of that, as I was also of Mackenzie’s ability to know when to leave an interview.
If only those bonehead males on Channel Nine would follow Sandra’s lead.
And so, with that obvious segue, to the cricket.
New Zealand notched a comfortable victory by 98 runs and will be very happy with the solid performance. Corey Anderson equal top scored with 75, but all seven batsmen who went to the crease for NZ got some runs. Martin Guptill (49), Brendon McCullum (65) and Kane Williamson (57) set things up at the top of the order, while Grant Elliott (29), Corey Anderson (75) and Luke Ronchi (29 n.o.) all hit out strongly in the happy hour, to see New Zealand close after fifty overs on a massive 331.
Sri Lanka made a good start through Lahiru Thirimanne (65), Tillakaratne Dilshan (24) and Kumar Sangakkara (39), however when Sangakkarra went in the 24th over, followed quickly by the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene (0), things went downhill for the Sri Lankans and they were never in the hunt from then on.
In Perth later that day, the other co-host, Australia, began their campaign with a cyclonic demolition of England. Australia posted 342, led by Aaron Finch with 135 off 158 deliveries. In a gruesome start England fans, Finch was dropped on zero by Chris Woakes at mid wicket. Now,while I generally have no sympathy for England on the sporting field, I had to feel for the man as he stood afterward hands of head, obviously wishing for a hole in the ground to open up down which he could disappear.
Sadly, that set the tone for England’s day and they were out of the match more or less from that moment on.
Other Australian batsmen in the figures were George Bailey, with 55 off 113. Bailey, no slouch of a hitter himself, happily played a support role to Finch’s fireworks at the other end. And Glenn Maxwell (66 off 63), Mitch Marsh (23 off 31) and Brad Haddin (31 off 23) all cashed in on a demoralised England at the end of the innings.
England at bat fell apart early and were quickly in a mess at 6-92 in the 22nd over. One of those wickets was captain, Eoin Morgan, who notched his fourth duck in five innings. He is woefully out of form and can only rue the timing of this bad run, coinciding as it does with the World Cup.
England’s only significant contribution came from James Taylor, with 98 off 126, however his rescue mission was too late to help England out of the 6-92 mess they had got themselves in.
Other completed matches saw Zimbabwe do well against South Africa. South Africa posted 339, but the Zimbabweans were courageous in defeat, notching 277 in reply. South Africa were in early trouble at 4-83, including the loss of inspirational captain AB de Villiers for 25, but then David Miller and JP Duminy said enough of this rubbish and powered the South Africans home with 138 off 133, with Miller scoring 115 and Duminy 119.
Biggest thing for miles though, was definitely the match in Adelaide between India and Pakistan. This match was tipped to be the most watched sporting event ever, with one billion viewers. Previous to that was another India-Pakistan cricket match in Mohali, with 988 million (0.98 billion) viewers. Before that the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, with 900 million viewers. There is still no clear readout on whether this one billion figure came to pass, however there is no denying that if one billion viewers are going to be recorded then a cricket match with between India and Pakistan will certainly be the event to do it.
To say these nations are obsessed with cricket barely hints at the scale of it. An Australian friend of mine, who had no interest in sport, was telling me that, while travelling in India, the locals would, upon hearing he was Australian, think that he must want to talk about cricket. When he said he had no interest, the look of shock on their faces was something to behold.
My friend added:
“Where we carry picture of our children in our wallets, some of the Indians I met would carry pictures of their favourite cricketers — both Indian and Australian players.”
The West Indies have definitely faded since their brutally powerful days of the 1980s — the days of Lloyd, Richards, and the four-barbed pace attacks containing Holding, Roberts, Marshall, Garner and the like, but even with this waning power, I don’t think anyone expected this.
Ireland are an “associate” team, so this was a big day for them. The West Indies batted first and posted 304. They struggled early and were looking very doubtful at 5-87, but then major contributions from Lendl Simmons (102), in partnership with Darren Sammy (89) saw them home feeling comfortable at last.
So the men in green took to the wicket and took immediate control, Paul Stirling (92) and Ed Joyce (84) set it up, taking Ireland to 3-273 before Joyce fell. Then Niall O’Brien brought them home with 79 not out, with victory coming in the 46 over, total 307.
It was embarrassingly comfortable for Ireland in the end and a warning for everyone else to not take associate nations lightly.
So, the cricket World Cup is underway, alcohol advertising has been greatly reduced, which I like, and the ABC are doing their excellent commentary, which is even better.
Even better than that would be to see Scotland beat England and, considering England’s woeful first up performance and Ireland showing it can be done, there now seems a fighting chance of that!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
Why England would like Pakistan as quarter-final opponents: their batsmen couldn't cope with the bounce in Australia http://t.co/Oqo4oiZF0s— Scyld Berry (@scyldberry) February 15, 2015