Thursday, February 17, 2011

World Cup 2011 - Why I Don't Like Warm Up Matches

The 2011 World Cup, like others before it, features a series of warm-up matches over almost two weeks. In these games, participating teams play each other with unlimited access to their squad of fifteen in the particular match (i.e. the team can be chopped and changed as the match progresses to give everyone a go). For a number of reasons, this approach is bizarre to me.

1. Good Game Guys... But It Doesn't Count
Australia were edged out by the Indians in a thrilling warm-up match. I got excited before realizing that the match means nothing at all. I am sure I am not the only spectator in a state of confusion as to what to do with these matches. What if Canada managed to pull off victory over England (which they nearly did). It will cease to exist in the cricketing records. Dhoni's century the other night would have been the second fastest by an Indian, if the match was officially recognized. It's a real shame to the individuals.

It Never Happened © Getty Images

2. Lets Give The Opposition A Free Look
If a team has a new ace up its sleeve that not many have seen before (e.g. R. Ashwin), why give the competition rivals a free dummy run against him? They will get to watch him carefully and prepare for him in the pool matches.. If you lose your off stump, the batsman can just say "meh, won't happen again". An unfair advantage.

Note To Self. Remember That Inswinger. © Getty Images

3. But If Not The Top Teams, Then Who?
In a regulation tour, a team usually plays state or regional teams for the warm ups, which makes sense as the opponents are of a reasonable but not overly challenging standard. Why not do the same in World Cups? India and Sri Lanka have a number of domestic teams and huge pool of talented players. These players get good exposure and the big boys get the practice run they want. A win-win.

4. Lets Waste More Time
Already we have enough people bemoaning the length of the event (Stuart Broad quoting "it goes on for years"). The World Cup right now seems to be in an awkward 'has it started?' phase. Why not cram the warm ups into one week instead, while still giving every team two warm up games. Pile the games on, have five in a day. They are just warm up matches after all.

I'm just glad the limbo is nearing a close.

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