The first of an informal weekly (if all goes to plan) (p)review of the 2019 Cricket World Cup – or, as I like to call it, the #Champ10nsTrophy.
I have a confession to make. The World Cup starts tomorrow. England have a more than decent chance of winning. Yet I’m not excited.
Maybe it’s the ridiculous round-robin format that will ensure games are still going on not just next month, but the month after next. Maybe it’s the appalling 10-team restriction that ensures that there are no genuine surprise packages, no out-and-out underdogs to root for. After all, the weakest team is probably Sri Lanka – and they’re one of five teams to have won the whole shebang in its history.
Perhaps my ennui is founded in more selfish reasons. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve only managed to obtain tickets for one game. Maybe it’s the fact that the games have been overpriced, at least compared to the 2015 World Cup. Maybe it’s the fact that maximum purchase quantities have been too high, allowing too many people to hoover up, for example, six tickets for each semi-final.
Maybe it’s the geographical isolation from the cricketing centre that does it. Down in darkest Herefordshire, it feels as if the benefits have a long way to trickle down. While the cities have their jamborees, cricket stumbles on here – often only just.
I went to New Road yesterday and it, in some ways, summed up everything that was good about professional English cricket. Tim Murtagh was Murtaghing away to such an extent that you wondered whether the laws of mathematics would bend and let him register more maidens than overs. Tom Helm was showing off the fluidity of action and sharp bounce that reveals why he’s tipped for greater honours.
As Malan and Gubbins (one Test player, one future Test player, surely) rescued Middlesex from 20-2, a German Shepherd at the base of the D’Oliviera Stand (presumably a Worcestershire supporter) couldn’t bear to watch, lying down and panting. Off the field, the queues for tea and cake (£2.50 for a mug and a slice) in the Ladies’ Pavilion signalled their quality and value. The thought of paying, by contrast, upwards of £10 for a World Cup-branded sandwich isn’t exactly filling me with pleasant anticipation.
I’m sure this too will pass. I only hope it passes in time for (my) World Cup Game Day. At least the official song isn’t a total write-off; perhaps I need to heed its advice and just Stand By.