The beauty of modern World Cups is that we can expect to see some wonderful and creative cricket. Players of today can do things we never considered doing in the 1970s and 1980s. If we tried to be a bit fancy and it didn’t come off, we invariably got a telling off. Players today play high-risk cricket and if successful the rewards are great. I would venture to say that the current players are far more skilful than the players of yesteryear.
I am fascinated seeing a batsman play the reverse sweep, switch shot, backing away and plundering the ball over cover. Stepping outside off stump and hitting the ball anywhere on the leg requires great skill and confidence.
Fast bowlers have three or four slower balls – I had two. I expect the spinners to succeed with subtle variation and taking the pace off the ball to make the batsmen hit over the inner field and boundary.
Sharp on field
The fielding is outstanding — players are fitter and faster than previously. They put their bodies on the line to save a run and that can make the difference between winning and losing. Seeing fielders catch the ball centimetres inside the boundary, throw it up in the air as they step over the boundary only to return to catch it is extraordinary. Unknown factors can cause a major scare at this crucial stage.
A rain-affected match against a lower-ranked team that allows the Duckworth-Lewis system to decide the outcome could be costly if the fancied team misses out on crucial points. A rained out game or losing the toss and batting first on a frisky pitch could be crucial, which Australia faced against Bangladesh. Senior players running out of form, injuries and other situations could decide the world champions.
India have almost confirmed the top position in Group B. They played some good cricket and are coming into top form at the right time. With four good wins they are unbeaten in their group.
The India pace bowlers are doing well and R Ashwin is adding the much-needed balance to the attack. Although the target was not high, the India batsman found themselves in some trouble after losing wickets quickly against the West Indies. But captain MS Dhoni took charge and saved his team. It looks as though the team is focused and is erasing the bad memories in Australian conditions. As defending champions, they look interested in becoming back-toback winners.
I am hopeful this tournament will be played competitively and fairly. I do not want to see player confrontations and verbal attacks – there has been too much of this going on inside the ground and outside. The game can do without this nonsense. The ‘spirit’ of the game must prevail at all times.