Before the quarters there was a lot of enthusiasm about England’s resilience and also the prediction that they were battle-hardened by the close games they had played in the tournament.
However, it always seemed to me that the team had played very scratchy cricket ever since their Ashes
Perhaps they could look at giving Ashes hero Alistair Cook a go because they are still to fix on a good opening pair.
SA must Soul search
The other team that needs to do some serious soul-searching is South Africa. They are yet to win a knock-out game in this tournament, and this year, they were my favourites for the World Cup.
Sadly, Graeme Smith’s poor form with the bat and a little bit of inexperience in the middle order did have a telling effect on Friday. Mark Boucher was perhaps required in that middle order just for his mental toughness, and in his absence, there was a bit of panic whenever the game went past the top order.
Kiwis on a high
For New Zealand it’s a great result, particularly when you see the amount of effort Daniel Vettori has put into this team over the years. Perversely they had been thrashed at this venue by Bangladesh a few times last year and perhaps that helped them understand the wicket better. New Zealand have some fine players, however, and they normally get results when the whole team rather than just one guy contributes. The other factor that has always helped New Zealand is the availability of a fit and rested Jacob Oram. He has always been a talismanic figure for them. He was exceptional the other night and might blossom at the Premadasa on Tuesday, because those conditions suit his bowling well.
The final word
To say that Sri Lanka are favourites would be an understatement. However, New Zealand are a team in that dangerous mental state of having nothing to lose. They have good spinners and a batting order that could challenge the hosts. But it remains to be seen whether they can hold it all together once again against the calm and class of this Sri Lankan side.