For anyone who’s counting, here’s a brief list of some of the great matches we’ve seen in the World Cup’s first stage — long derided and dismissed as useless:
Ireland v. Bangladesh — Bangladesh win after facing near-certain defeat
Ireland v. England — Celtic Revolution.
England v. India — Tie! It’s a tie!
England v. Netherlands — Remarkable century from both Strauss and ten Doeschate
England v. South Africa — Strange to see the South Africans collapse, but all the more thrilling. (And yes, I’m aware every match England has played has ended up on this list.)
New Zealand v. Pakistan — Ross Taylor takes New Zealand into the heavens.
Sri Lanka v. Pakistan — Close stuff; 266 to 277.
It’s no surprise England and Pakistan appear often; their mood seems to determine what level they want to play. Some would say seven exciting games out of 28 isn’t exactly a thrilling standard, but that’s not necessarily the fault of the Associates or minnows (as Ireland, Bangladesh, the Netherlands and — in one possibly great game against Pakistan, Canada — have shown). Yes, things would be better if this tournament were shorter and if there were fewer teams, but this World Cup hasn’t been a complete bore by any stretch of the imagination. And we’re not even into the knockout stages yet.