We are just over halfway through the 2019 Cricket World Cup and if results go the way most bookies would expect over the next 72 hours the top four, who progress to the knockout stages, will be all but confirmed. If Australia complete victory over Bangladesh this afternoon, England beat Sri Lanka tomorrow and India beat Afghanistan on Saturday there will be a four-point gap between the top four and the remaining sides with only three games each to go.
This is of course a great pity for an international event. The intrigue of a global event was at fever pitch only a fortnight ago as the world’s best players arrived in England for the seven week tournament that would finally confirm whether England really have become the best side around, whether Afghanistan could stun one of the leading sides with a shock win and whether Bangladesh could continue their remarkable rise up the rankings in all forms of international cricket.
After an initially promising start, results have sadly almost all gone to the more fancied and established sides and, at the time of writing this piece, there have been almost no shocks at all from the initial 25 games (of which four have been lost to the weather). This is not what a World Cup is all about and sadly if it continues down this path it is likely to lose a lot of the fantastic support and excitement that it has managed to achieve thus far.
We’ve seen most pertinently in football that predictable outcomes lessen the event itself and with the huge financial clout of the big English clubs the game has almost entirely lost the unpredictability that makes sport so entertaining and engaging. The top six clubs in England have so much money and so much power that it is hard to envisage any of them ever falling out of these positions and to an extent it makes the top tier of English football a little dull.
Of course, this could just be me but for fans outside of the top six the reality is that winning silverware or achieving titles are almost completely out of reach. Sadly, we might be seeing something similar emerging in cricket now and it is alarming.
It is no secret that Australia, England and India are the wealthiest cricket nations in the world. The power the BCCI, CA and the ECB have trumps every other board that has ever been established and their wealth is unparalleled. With these three and New Zealand seemingly guaranteed knock out places with almost half of the games remaining will the next fortnight become completely meaningless?
Whilst this tournament looks like being the first instance of this happening the fear that these three will now kick on and dominate the game for the foreseeable future is a concerning thing. One of the great levelers in cricket has always been that talent alone could propel a nation to glory but with the financial muscle available to the big three will anyone be able to pose a consistent threat to their dominance?
A ray of hope remains though, that perhaps Bangladesh will fight back this afternoon and cause the first major upset of this World Cup. However unlikely it seems victories for Sri Lanka and Afghanistan too could see the tournament given a new lease of life but, as even the most successful gambler will always tell you, the house always wins. World Cups are supposed to bring thrills, excitement and shocks aplenty but sadly this tournament looks like petering out before it has even ignited.
By Andy Hunter