A two year qualification period involving so many countries that millions of people haven’t even heard of some of them, let alone know where they are, narrows the great game of football down to 32 of the very finest for the World Cup. Yet North Korea were thrashed 7-0 by Portugal last year.
Perhaps the calls for North Korea to be banished from future qualification tournaments were suppressed by the only media regime stricter than that which exists in the country itself, FIFA. Maybe that’s why we didn’t get to hear about how embarrassing they were and how much they had devalued the game’s showpiece tournament.
Even Canada and Kenya, admittedly out of their depth and lacking even a few players of genuine quality, have added to the flavour which makes World Cups unique. The Netherlands and, of course, Ireland have already done more than enough to justify their presence here.
For all the thrashings endured by the lesser nations so far, Bangladesh’s capitulation to 58 all out against the West Indies has outdone them all for pea-hearted ignominy. The ICC says their offer of more places in the World T20 should be enough to appease the little boys. Right. And for everyone who likes chocolate brownies, perhaps you should try the sugar-free ones made with rice flour. They’re good for you, honestly. Just like the real thing.
For all the strides being made by the women’s game in recent years, cricket will remain almost entirely in the male domain so long as the people who produce it for television remain men. Take the ‘longest six’ innovation being so laboriously enthused about by commentators. As all women will tell you, once you reach a certain size it really doesn’t matter. Whether it’s six inches or eight, or even ten, it still only counts for six. But boys will be boys so the contest remains on for who can hit the ball further than a six. If you have the technology, then use it. I guess.
South Africa’s sluggish start to the tournament (itinerary speaking, that is) has had an expensive side effect for Faf du Plessis. A group of enthusiastic Playstation competitors spent many evenings during the first fortnight hotly fighting it out for top honours in the Tiger Woods golf game and the FIFA soccer game.
“Being the new boy in the squad we set the Playstation up in Faf’s room,” explained Dale Steyn. “Some nights we played until well after midnight – leaving some pretty hefty room service bills for all the drinks and snacks we ordered.”
Some members of Zimbabwe’s management team went to great lengths to organise a liquor permit in the ‘dry’ state of Gujarat before Friday’s match against New Zealand, and even greater lengths to buy a case of beers in case they produced an upset win. Several members of both the playing and administration team, however, are non-drinkers and felt that mention of beers before the match was inappropriate. A compromise was reached by which the beers were referred to as “incentives.”
After the 10-wicket thrashing at the hands of the Black Caps, Zimbabwe bowling coach and former captain Heath Streak was heard to mutter to batting coach, Grant Flower, as they boarded the team bus back to the hotel: “I hope those bottles of pain killers are nice and cold when we get back.”
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