England begin bid with a grand slam | Sunday Observer

England begin bid with a grand slam

Really are Grand Slams accomplished right at the beginning! Well England did just that by slamming a 104-run defeat on South Africa in the opener of the 2019 World Cup at the London Oval on Friday.

While England must be savoring this victory, the South Africans have only themselves to blame for this defeat. On a fine summer’s day in London ideal for cricket, South Africa had luck smiling their way when skipper Faf Du Plessis won the all-important toss. But squandered it by inviting England to bat.

When you win the toss it means that luck is on your side. Then with the wicket expected to play easy and no landmine on it, to bat first should have been the Proteas option. When you put the opposing side into bat, it shows fear and uncertainty.

When you put the opponents in, then it is essential that you bundle them out for a score that is gettable when chasing. If you allow a big score, then when chasing you embrace pressure. And if you lose early wickets you double the pressure. And this is exactly what happened. With this defeat, the South Africans will find it difficult to shed the ‘chokers’ label that has been pasted on them.

When England made 311 for 8 in their 50 overs with Roy, Root, Morgan and Stokes making more than half centuries, the South Africans had to bat from out of their skins if they were to win.

But the England bowlers handled cleverly by skipper Morgan, bowled a good line and length with discipline and strangled the SA batsmen. With the snooze wrapped tight round their batting necks, the SA batsmen had no way out but to succumb and they did that falling for 207 in 39.5 overs to give England a whopping 104- run win.

Jofra Archer bowling with great control and express speed had the SA batsmen shaking in the knees returning figures of 3 for 27 on a debut that was memorable. He was well supported by Liam Plunkett 2 for 37 and Ben Stokes 2 for 12. Only opener Quinton de Kock 68 and Van der Dussen 50 showed some resistance.

Poor behaviour

One fails to understand the poor behavior of some of the British supporters who continued to jeer when David Warner and Steve Smith came in to bat in a friendly against England prior to the World Cup proper.

Accepted that Warner, Smith and Bancroft were accused of ball tampering and got their just desserts when they were fined and banned from the game, Smith and Warner for one year. That was enough punishment and shame and regretting their crime, they served their sentence and came back to the game and the way the Brit fans treated them was not cricket.

But the jeering seemed to inspire Warner and Smith as both batted confidently to score runs. Smith in particular was in blistering form as he smacked a century and sent the England bowlers and fielders on a leather hunt to help beat England and silence the Brit fans.

While the Australian Cricket Board punished the offenders Warner, Smith and Bancroft, a cricketer and officials from Sri Lanka too were accused and found guilty of ball tampering. But what did the local Board do, sweet nothing and the cricketer and the two officials who were involved in the ball tampering were allowed to go free. That was inexplicable.

The ugly switch hit

The writer fails to understand how and why the ugly switch hit or reverse sweep came into the game. It is a slur on the game. The chances of batsmen playing this ungainly stroke and getting out are 95 per cent and only five per cent of scoring off it.

Blind is the best way to describe this shot because if the batsman misses chances are that he could be leg before. If he does not connect, the ball could lob to short square leg or fine leg.

Batsmen playing this stroke that should have no place in the game are not playing fair by the bowler. Bowlers should be allowed to bowl OVER or ROUND without having to inform the umpire or the batsman.

Former cricketers

In our ‘COMMENT’ column on Friday in the ‘Daily News’ we mentioned our four former cricketers who will be in the galaxy of Match referees Ranjan Madugalle, umpires Kumar Dharmasena and Ruchira Palliyaguruge and TV Commentator Kumar Sangakkara. Keeping chief of match referee’s Madugalle’s company are Chris Broad (England) , David Boon (Australia), Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe) Jeff Crowe (New Zealand) and Richie Richardson (West Indies).

Big prize money

Having said that we move on to the prize money that is on offer and it is big money. The champions will pocket US$ 4 million runner-up US $ 2 million, losing semi-finalist US $ 800,000, winner of each league stage match US $ 40.000, teams that do pass the league stage US $ 100,000.

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