Monday, April 4, 2011

The Sparkling Minnows

When I had finished my schooling, the IITs (leading engineering institutes in India - Indian Institute of Technology) announced that, that year (2006) would be the last chance for all those people who finished schooling one or more years ago to sit the exam. The exam was then made open only to the ones who have completed their schooling successfully in the year of exam or the year before.

It was a similar announcement that the ICC made during the course of this World Cup, when they said that the next CWC will have only 10 teams, as it wanted to shorten the length of the tournament. Indirectly, they said that they don't want the Associate Nations playing in the world cup, because : 1. THAT was what made the tournament longer, 2. reduced their income (note, this is the main reason) and also, 3. caused upsets which even resulted in expulsion of major teams (and hence, all over again). The tournament organisers were frank enough to tell that they had planned the 7-team group stage so as to not eliminate any "big team". Frankly, I call that cheap!

How the hell can you call it a "World Cup" if the world doesn't get a chance to play in it? I don't play cricket amongst my friends here and call it a National tournament... I won't, because I can't.

Jonathan Agnews has shown the way to a much better tournament organization with the same format, so that the tournament is shortened and the interest is maintained. A four-pool of 4 teams is another good way to go, but alas, ICC is much worried about its money churning teams, rather than cricket. Very nice, ICC, I hope you choke on the money you eat.

All said and done, ICC has pushed the button. And, while on the chair, The Minnows did show a lot of heart, courage and cricketing beauties for us to remember for quite some time.

I bring you 6 of them.

6. Ashish Bagai vs New Zealand

Bagai is a diminutive man by size, but a big man by heart. He has quite some experience on and off the field of cricket. Having had some injuries dogging him down throughout his career, which has hampered his running, the wicketkeeper-batsman-captain turned his volume up during the high-scoring encounter vs New Zealand. His team was already 2 down with not more than 4 on the board. And he played one of his most memorable innings (along with Hansra) to take Canada to a position of respect at the end of the day. NZ were unable to bowl them out after Ashish Bagai's 84.

5. Ryan ten Doeschate vs England

The Indian crowd got its first good look at their going-to-be IPL player, Ryan ten Doeschate, when he got the better of England in a complete all-round performance. The wise and experienced Dutchman took the attack to the English camp with the bat as he scored massive against the likes of Broad, Andersen and Swann. He scored 119 (109 balls) to take Nederlands up to 292. RtD returned to take team-best (and most economical) 47/2 off his 10 overs. One man could only do so much. His teammates couldn't help carry on the momentum given by his efforts as Ravi Bopara took England to safety in the end. But, this was surely RtD's game.

4. Collins Obuya vs Australia

Australia had set a massive target against Kenya, and right from the start, it only started to grow bigger. The innings was steadied a bit by the Obuya brothers. After David was run-out in a mis-hap, Collins saw what a big mistake he had made. And then on, he took the responsibility. He settled himself down, and then took the attack to the Australian with some of the best pieces of timing one would see against the Australian pace battery. That he didn't get two more runs will be the only thing that might've saddened him, but that is one innings the Australians will not forget, as Aus failed to bowl Kenya out, managed only 6 wickets actually).

3. Hiral Patel vs Australia

Nineteen year old Canadian, Hiral Patel gave the Australians a nightmare of a jolt when the pace battery of Lee, Tait and Johnson were briefly reduced to ashes (no pun intended). That was an innings of courage, and brute power. I've only seen David Warner hit Shaun Tait in front of the square better than that. It was an innings that showed that Canadians are not here just to party around, but to play some serious cricket.

2. Jimmy Kamande vs Cameron White

One fine day, Cameron White was playing an off spinner named Jimmy Kamande, whom I guess he rarely heard of. 5 minutes later, that line would read "One fine day, Cameron White played an off spinner named Jimmy Kamande, who he will never forget". Captain of the Kenyan team, Jimmy Kamande bowled the ball of the tournament around the best defense of Cameron White, which turned a nautical mile to beat the Great Barrier of White and hit the middle and off. Though the video suggests it might've clipped the inside edge of White's blade, all commentators said there was none, after watching multiple videos. That look on Cameron White's face is going to become a poster and will be hung in Kamande's living room.

For video of that magic ball, please click HERE .

1. Kevin o'Brien vs England

Kevin o'Brien played the mother of all resurgent innings in that one pulsating night against England, when Ireland turned the tables around on ICC and smacked them hard at their decision to do away with the minnows. After throwing away the game against Bangladesh hardly a week before this innings, KoB made sure that he stuck around this time, in his own style. Crucial partnerships with able men, Cusack and Mooney helped him score the fasted century in the World Cup. That century brought Ireland to the fore, and almost got rid of England from qualifying to the knock out round later on.

So, the ICC wants to now have a 10-team world cup, which will have less probability of extincting a top notch team than what it has been all these years. Top teams can play absolute crap, and still manage to qualify, unlike what England, WI or India had to do this time (all 3 were biting fingernails at some point of the time... England had even resorted to toe-nails once finger nails disappeared).

I will miss these teams, and their bullets that dented some teams on or off the chart.

You might also like to read : With Love, Minnows

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