28 February 2015

Do these games have any impact on the end result of the World Cup?

Time will tell, but I suspect that they'll have zero impact on the end winner.   I may well have written on here before about how - at the very least - I'd make the final of the World Cup a best of 3 matches as ODIs can sometimes sway one way or another for little reason.   So listening to these matches is interesting and 2 in particular have been thrilling - NZ v Australia this morning and Scotland v Afghanistan earlier in the week, but they all feel like warm up games really.   

Four - or at a push five - sides *could* win it but for so many I can't help but feel they're not playing their best side for so many reasons.

Australia don't have Ryan Harris playing, or Nathan Lyon even in the squad.   

South Africa have the recently retired Jacques Kallis watching, despite the fact that he was in the top 10 Big Bash batsmen and South Africa are crying out for a 5th bowler who can bat 7.   They've also left out Johan Botha and Ryan McLaren, despite seemingly grooming McLaren for this tournament over the last couple of years.

West Indies have Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard at home and that definitely can't be for cricket reasons.   And very sadly Sunil Narine wasn't allowed to take part as he's currently considered to throw it - he would have been my pick for top group stage wicket taker.   I say currently because it seems routine that you go away for a bit and then come back and all is ok.

Much like South Africa with McLaren, New Zealand spent the last two years grooming James Neesham and then went back to Grant Elliott (which may well have been the right choice), but on cricketing ability alone Jessie Ryder has to be in any NZ XI.

Pakistan didn't take the chance to draft in Saeed Ajmal into their side after his clearance to bowl and Shoaib Malik seems to be suffering one of his many "not the right fit" moments during a World Cup which is a little unfortunate for him.   What happened to Umar Gul is anyone's guess.

Sri Lanka couldn't find a place in their squad for Ajantha Mendis which could become an issue if Herath gets injured.   And no place in their starting line up for the very under-rated Nuwan Kulasekara.

And of course England have Jonathan Trott working for Sky rather than playing and no Kevin Pietersen.   They don't play Ravi Bopara, and there wasn't room in the squad for Ben Stokes.

So all these group matches may have a point after all.   Perhaps more sides will have their best XI on the park by the time the knockout stages come about.   But I doubt it.

And who were the five that could win it?   Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India could win it, with Sri Lanka the outside bets.   The others have no chance whatsoever, even given the unpredictability of one off ODIs.    It'll still be good to listen to.

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