Look, nobody’s perfect. Just because we lost all three warm up games to county sides doesn’t meant we’re going to tank out in the early stages of the World Cup. Losing to Sri Lanka in the first game doesn’t help that, I admit, but there’s a long way to go. Besides, it’s little old Kenya up next. We really have to win.
The conditions give nothing away. Everything is average. It’s cloudy but if it’s going to be all day we’ll just wait. That pitch will presumably only get worse though, so I’m going to bat first if I win the toss. Tufnell is in for Fraser.
Kenya are no mugs, especially given our terrible form. We need to come up with something here.
Obviously we lose the toss and Kenya decide to bat. I guess that at least justifies my decision had I won the toss. I can win a hypothetical situation.
From the off Goughy is at it. Mullally keeps it tight but Gough is causing all sorts of problems and Chusasama edges behind. Shah goes on the attack but goes for one shot too many and drives straight to Ramprakash in the covers before we are met with some resistance. The medium pace of Wells and Bulbeck are brought on under the serious cloud cover and the pair dibbly dobbly their way through the middle order. Wells, who I will appoint as the godfather of any kids I have, is particularly impressive before Tufnell turns up to mop up the tail. His 6 overs provide 5 maidens and 2 wickets. Gough returns to seal the deal and we need 113 for my first win in charge.
Surely not even we could mess this up?
As is their norm, Stewart and Knight get us off to a good start and get us half way home before Knight is trapped LBW. That’s a shame. Hick follows shortly afterwards and those old doubts start to creep in. Flintoff and Ramprakash both fail to make an impression before Stewart departs for 38 with just 12 needed. Captain Thorpe and lovely Vince see us home with 20 overs to spare. A win is a win. I’ll deal with the rest later.
Kenya beat Zimbabwe in their first match and the way this is looking I’m going to have to beat one of South Africa or India to qualify, as well as beating Zimbabwe. Hmm.
Would you credit it, it’s South Africa next. They, unlike us, are good at cricket. Allan Donald will tear us apart. I don’t know what to make of the conditions, that pitch will presumably get worse but it’ll be a warm afternoon. Think I’ll lose the toss.
I know we won but I have to make changes. That middle order has been a disgrace. So I asked myself, what are we good at? That was a short conversation. But basically I know I’ve joked about Vince Wells but he’s reliable and deserves a promotion. Ramprakash has been horrendous so I’m going to bring in Nasser at 3 in the hope he can stand up to the pace attack, whilst Mark Ealham is given another chance at the expense of Andrew Flintoff who has struggled to make an impact.
South Africa meanwhile pick the most versatile side of all time. At least they only have one spinner. Donald is the obvious danger but Pollock’s his partner in crime. Winning this would be be my greatest achievement to date, but as my only other victory is against Kenya I don’t think you can read too much into that.
We’ll be bowling first. That immediately seems important, as the opening pair put on 43 before Mullally finally snares Kirsten caught behind. Unfortunately that brings Jacques Kallis to the crease. Jacques is mad. Him and Cronje go nuts, putting on 117 and leaving us in danger of being blown away. Eventually, Ealham gets rid of Cronje, his first of three wickets. Kallis is his final victim, but his 116 from 102 balls has put South Africa in a strong position. 262 will take some getting.
The bowling wasn’t awful, though Bulbeck took the brunt of the Kallis anger. Ealham was the suprise package but we’re in need of our batting lineup passing 250 for the first time in my tenure. I won’t hold my breath.
Naturally, we’re soon 38-3. Why do I bother? South Africa, the crafty bastards, held Donald back as first change. Pollock and Klusener cause the early problems, accounting for Stewart, Knight and Hussain before Pollock claims Wells for 11. 51-4. What chance from here?
Somehow, a fightback stirrs. Hick and Thorpe put on 90, at a good pace too, before both depart within 2 overs of one another. Bulbeck is keen to make up for his terrible bowling though and he more or less goes a run a ball, supported by Ealham and later Gough before departing for 40. Realistically any chance ended there but Gough takes over and shoulders arms for a few overs. We fall 26 runs short in the penultimate over. Damn.
A surprisingly good effort, all things considered. Pollock tore us apart and having to face Donald at the death was a problem, though his wickets were our number 9 & 10.
We’ve still got our work cut out to qualify. It’s Zimbabwe next which will mean a potential shootout with India to qualify…if we beat Zimbabwe.
Join me next time for the final 2 group games. Can we turn this around?!