Let the Games Begin

I know it’s only the Cricket World Cup but the dramatic lead up to this particular World Cup seems to require a grand announcement. The World Cup officially starts this week with host nation, the West Indies (well, I guess you can’t really call it nation) taking on Pakistan (the last team known to have thrown a World Cup final) at Sabina Park, Jamaica, on Tuesday. Thinking caps on now for Australian and New Zealand readers: If a match is on Tuesday (local time) and is a day night match, it is played on Wednesday our time, starting around 2:00 a.m. (Sydney time) and finishing after we get to work.

This World Cup seems to have had more dramas in the lead up, than most. It’s been a fine balance between comedy, farce and things of a more serious nature. Here’s a brief summary:

The champions, favourites and number one ranked team, Australia, lost 5 matches in a row at home and abroad. They also lost their number one ranking.
With that back drop, Sunny (not Sonny Bono) gave it to Australia basically for being scum bags for the past 10 years and wow, weren’t we all enjoying the suffering now. Ponting, being Ponting, returned fire and that is before they have even come face to face. Somebody hide the bar stools.
Key players have fallen like flies. For Australia, Hayden, Lee and Symonds suffered major injuries. For England, Pietersen was injured in Australia. For New Zealand, Jacob Oram was in trouble. The race is on to see who can come back and when.
The juice brothers (Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif), having flown to London on route to the West Indies suddenly discovered that they were injured and had to pull out of the biggest cricket show on earth. Goodness me, London is a dangerous place. Mohammad Asif is out with an elbow injury of all things. Now, I could believe that of an Australian cricketer on a flight to London but I’m not too sure about a Pakistani. This incident leads me to think about the Olympics more than any other because it is comedy, farce and very serious all at once. I recall the star Greek athletes in Athens (Kostas Kenteris and Ekaterini Thanou) who had a motor bike accident on the way to their drugs test immediately before the 2004 Games. The parallels are pitiful.
Jacob Oram was so determined to play that he announced he would have his injured finger amputated rather than miss the Cup. At first I thought this was a little over the top. You’d expect that sort of thinking from an All Black but not a Black Cap. But then I realised that it was this level of commitment and desperation that had driven the Kiwis to smash the Aussies and be in the running for the big prize.
On the other hand, and the other side of the World, young Liam Plunkett had vowed to miss the World Cup to have his kidney amputated (you could called it transplanted) to save his ailing father. His father, of course, was having none of that.
Once everyone arrived in the Caribbean, suddenly, order seemed to be restored. Australia started winning. Gilchrist arrived late and smashed a quick 72. Clark, belatedly included for the injured Brett Lee, demolished England. The West Indies were all out for 85 against India. And South Africa started the choking process even earlier than normal, all but losing to Ireland and then being smashed by Pakistan. But of course, warm up matches count for nothing. Just ask anyone who loses one.

I hope you’ve all got plenty of sleep in the bank because a few all nighters might be coming up. Let the games begin. Set the pigeons free.

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