Insipidity of the good loser syndrome
More than ever each World Cup has its many stories – a large number staying in the background and never really coming to light. England, the country which gave the game of cricket to the world, cannot really be happy with what transpired in full public view at Adelaide Oval last Monday. England needed to win against - not Australia, or India or South Africa or New Zealand – but against Bangladesh, a place most cricket lovers had only heard about some twenty years ago, in order to escape the indignity of succumbing in the early stages of World Cup 2015. When a Bangladesh player dropped a relatively simple catch in the outfield after settling comfortably under the ball at a critical stage of England's grasping of their last straw to avoid utter indignity of an unthinkable reverse my heart went out to the young man in context of what unending censures he might have stood to suffer from his not so forgiving countrymen back home. He could be branded forever as the man who ditched "our chances" of going on to the quarter-finals on the world's biggest stage.
As it turned out, the England batsmen did not capitalize on the guy's misfortune and all stands to be forgotten as Bangladesh joyfully jumped to the ecstasy of a first ever passage to the elimination rounds. Bangladesh, sent in by England, made 275 for 7 and succeeded in defending this by bowling out their opponents for 260 in the 48th over.
The scenes of unadulterated post-match jubilation by Bangladesh supporters were poignantly counterbalanced by the inward woes groaned by the English. On the one hand, the relative nonentities had vanquished giants of the sport- albeit the latter had acquitted themselves as menial dwarfs. Where did England go wrong? Ignoring all that preceded the match and the idiotic idea of England finding themselves in predicament of uncertainty against their unequal rivals, Eain Morgan and his men ought to have been buoyed by the overwhelming good favour of winning the toss and set out to splash an imposingly high total on the board, looking to annihilate their little adversaries with the enormity of an unassailable task.
Instead, Bangladesh were sent in and given the opportunity to enjoy putting their runs on the board in hope of defending at whatever means at their disposal. The English bowling, after the early inroads of grabbing two wickets with only eight runs conceded, appeared clueless as to the business of restricting the flow of runs by batsmen who should have been kept on safe leashes held by those holding the upper-hand.
Without any disrespect for the Bangladeshi, Riad Mahmadullar getting 103, his first ODI century and his country's first in a World Cup engagement, and Mushfiqur's 89 in repairing the innings spoke volumes for England's grave inability to effect a decent job of containment. However, a target of 276 in 50 overs - little more than five and a half runs per over ought not to have fazed England. They should have gone after the runs in proper stride, not giving impression of timidly offering the bat without the necessary initial foot movement.
It may sound ungenerous, but the watch was ditched when Ian Bell committed suicide with his score on 63, donating a catch to the keeper to make it 121 for 3 just when any knowledgeable batsman ought to have seen the reading of the game as fully dependent on his seeing his team through right on to the finish. The ship was entering port and should have been steered to the point of dropping safe anchor. Bell departed from the policy that had stood him in good stead- forcing the bowlers to bowl on his terms! Alas, he elected to attempt to steer a delivery he was better advised to leave alone close to the region of his neck. That was serious abdication from good sense by the man ordained to retain his cool. After this disastrous indiscretion England was scratching courageously but without the essence of cool control.
Let it be said- in the sum of the wherewithal available to England for its cricket development – she should easily have a second or third string side capable of acquitting itself above and beyond what an impoverished country might be able to concoct. Still, it is not always the physical and financial resources which tip the balance in ultimate performance on the big stage. Bangladesh displayed a hunger, batting as if life depended on the match outcome, such to the extent that England were moved to wonder at the extremes their opponents went to save a bare run.
Such intrepid motivation tipped the balance against superior foes taking the stature offered by the world ratings for granted. England could not afford a single slip at that stage and are consigned to returning home post haste. One gets nagging feeling England basks in consolation that the success of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa is pridefully lifted as a signpost unto themselves - our kith and kin are still in it and carry our own bloodlines into position of honour.
Who else might join Scotland, United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and England in the early exit? Alas, the warm betting seems to place West Indies as qualifying for this doubtful distinction. West Indies at latest showing lacked the calibre of batting skills to match defending champions India. Advantage of the toss led West Indies to bat first but only produced a feeble showing of 182 all out on the bouncy Perth surface in only 45 overs. And things would have turned out even worse had it not been for a bulldog innings by skipper Jayson Holder, 57, which repaired the position from 88 for 7 wickets amid some spilled catches by India.
The West Indies bowling proved little more than tepid after Jerome Taylor's early inroads and the good fortune of India dithering on 134 for 6 in the 30th over. India was content to pull through with 185 for 6 leaving Dhoni not out on 45 with no one really distinguishing himself.
Ominously for West Indies, Ireland eked out a 5 –run win over Zimbabwe at Hobart – Ireland 331 for 8 and Zimbabwe 326 in the final over. Equally disconcerting for West Indies, the destination of Group "B" honours was Pakistan's heroic win by 29 runs over highly rated South Africa in a rain shortened affair at Auckland. Pakistan 222 in 47 runs was enough to restrict the Springboks to 202 in 34 overs despite a come from behind 77 by De Villiers in the grimness of 135 for 7 at one stage.
West Indies has first to escape the worst of possible bad weather and then to beat United Emirates very heavily, while hoping Ireland is savagely trounced by South Africa in their final encounter. All then would be determined by the slender graces of net run rate for the final places to the quarter finals from the group. India dismissed Ireland for 259 and put the Irish in their rightful place with 260 for 2, literally toying with the bowling in a 174 run opening partnership giving Dhawan 100, Sharma 64, Kohli 44 not out and Rahane 33 not out.