WHEN cricket’s World Cup kicked off I was among those thinking that the whole process was going to be too long and drawn out.
Looking at the programme of group matches you had to feel that there was not going to be any meaningful cricket played for at least three weeks – but as an England fan I suppose I should have known better.
Thanks to the aggressive yet circumspect hitting of Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien, England now face a situation where they need to win their remaining three group games against South Africa, Bangladesh and West Indies to be sure of qualification for the quarter-finals if they are not to rely on other results in Group B.
The efforts of former county player O’Brien have to be praised, let’s face it you don’t put yourself top of the fastest World Cup centuries list ahead of the likes of Matthew Hayden, Kapil Dev and Adam Gilchrist without having produced a knock of real quality.
And I don’t really want to take the gloss off Ireland’s victory either because theirs was a stunning team effort, but just what are England playing at?
You would have thought the alarm bells that were ringing after the sketchy win in the opening game against Holland, when England’s fielding was abject in the extreme, would have been heeded.
However, the England camp must have thought they could get away with that level of performance against the Irish as well.
While the bowling was poor (do we not possess a single seamer who knows how to stick the ball in the block hole?), sadly it was the old adage ‘catches win matches’ that stuck in my mind.
Letting five chances go is a recipe for disaster and while the men in Orange failed to punish England for their lackadaisical approach, the men in green were not about to let a golden opportunity escape their grasp.
Hopefully Andrew Strauss and his troops will take heed of the warning this time – otherwise they will not be in the competition when it is supposed to get really interesting.