Daniel Norcross

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Blog Posts by Daniel Norcross

  • India certain to win, unless Lanka beat them to it

    It feels like only six months have passed since the opening game in Dhaka, but suddenly, and just as I was getting the hang of it all, this World Cup is about to end. 48 matches have been played, millions of air miles have been accrued by players, journalists and fans alike and Shastri, Morrison, Nicholas and co. are almost out of hyperbolic superlatives.

     

    Yes, we really are on the brink. Only one more match stands between us and the terrifying prospect of having no cricket to watch until the IPL begins next Friday, but what a match it promises to be. The two pre-tournament favourites go head to head in Mumbai in a contest that will once more bring the entire Indian sub-continent to a standstill.

     

    If we thought Wednesday's semi-final between India and Pakistan was the biggest match of the century we must now re-calibrate our hysteria monitors as the winners of the Mumbai showdown will have their exploits witnessed by, if the broadcasters are to be believed, the best part of 1.5

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  • Dumping Trumper for Sehwag and 9 other moments

    Well thank heavens for that. The Sado-Masochists in the ICC World Cup Planning Committee devised a format to guarantee the top eight teams would contest the quarter-finals and, despite a few scary moments almost entirely generated by England's exhausted, frequently inept and fractious squad, they have been rewarded.

     

    Whether it was strictly necessary to spend 29 days confirming what we already knew would happen is another matter. And indeed next time the ICC are dispensing with the tiresome lesser nations altogether, but in spite of the ridiculously attenuated format and regular diet of one sided matches, this World Cup has been by far the most enjoyable since 1996.

     

    Paradoxically the fascination has been caused by a succession of unpredictable games between the top sides. Of the eight quarter-finalists only England remain undefeated in matches between the survivors. Australia's irksome unbeaten record has now been consigned to history leading Ian Chappell to fume about Shahid

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  • Miracles And Mediocrities, Shocks And Shockers In A Tale Of Two Groups

    We have finally reached the half way point in the group stages and this World Cup is shaping up to be a tournament of contrasts, the most obvious of which is that between the two groups.

     

    Currently group B resembles a seven man all-in wrestling bout that the Dutch, as conscientious objectors, are boycotting. This scrap could go all the way. After all, the Irish have beaten the English who edged past the South Africans who walloped the West Indies who trounced Bangladesh who overcame the Irish. Only India are unbeaten but they still contrived to tie with England.

     

    England, briefly top of the group, can be sent packing if they lose to Bangladesh and West Indies. Ireland can still qualify if they beat the Netherlands and West Indies. Bangladesh have turned in some dreadful performances themselves both on and off the pitch (if the supporters can't even identify the right bus to stone it's a bit rich to have a go at the players), but can still go through if they beat England and England

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  • Ten Things The Connoisseur Can Learn From The WC So Far

    Now look here. It's high time everyone just stopped moaning
    about what a ridiculously bloated tournament this is. Enough of the barbed
    comments concerning the idiotic fixture schedule that sees game after game of
    stultifying tedium played out before we get to a decent clash of heavyweights.

     

    It's not as if anyone's got anything much better to be
    doing, and Wednesday's thrilling 200+ run win by Pakistan against the dismal
    Kenyans was still more fun than sticking rusty nails in your eyes or watching
    behind the scenes footage of Kate Middleton's hosier preparing her expertly
    crafted wedding seams for that oh so special day in April.

     

    So don't come crying to me after this world has been ravaged
    by plague, war and apocalyptic doom, dragging a bundle of torn rags and
    foraging for nuts in an irradiated forest complaining that if you'd only paid
    more attention to Sri Lanka's heart stopping 200+ run win against Canada at
    least you’d have memories of happier times to comfort you in the long

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  • Beaten England Just Relieved To Get Out Of Australia

     

    So finally England's
    marathon tour of Australia
    is over. By the end of it Swann, Bresnan, Morgan, Tremlett, Collingwood and
    Shahzad were barely walking wounded. Australia had suffered a fair share
    of injuries themselves and the Test Match Sofa commentary team was down to the
    bare bones.

     

    From the look of the small crowds attending the last couple
    of ODIs, even the fans had succumbed to sickness, injury and maybe just a touch
    of boredom.

     

    The teams that took to the field at the WACA bore no
    resemblance to the sides the two countries will put out for the World Cup, and
    consequently the cricket was pretty poor fare.

     

    Australia
    batted first, got into terrible trouble at the top of the order (as has been
    the case for most of the series) and then found someone who miraculously knew
    how to bat. On this occasion it was Adam Voges proving the selectors must have
    a screw loose if they really think Steve Smith is the answer to anything.

     

    His 80 off 72 balls with only four boundaries on a

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  • Now the bowlers lose it as England crumble again

     

    OK. So having endured five matches of remorseless batting mediocrity we were finally treated to a virtually flawless display from England led by the matchless Jonathan Trott, whom regular readers will know was not my first choice to bat at number three, or indeed bat at all.

     

    His chanceless 137 from 126 balls was the cornerstone of a surprisingly measured and occasionally explosive England innings. Naturally, like the rest of his team-mates, he succumbed to near life threatening injury towards the end of  his innings, and throughout was accompanied by a moistened cravat to ward off heat stroke that bedecked his neck in the jaunty style of a 1950's French movie star.

     

    He had been throughout the series to date the one English batsman who looked capable of playing the anchor role, but at Sydney he went further, moving through gears that even his more ardent supporters didn't believe he possessed.

     

    In partnership first with Strauss, whose 63 from 69 balls was the usual mix of

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  • Mediocre Aussies Crush England To Take Series

    When we began Test Match Sofa in summer 2009 I promised myself that we would never become jaded or bored by the cricket we were watching. We would never fall into the trap of sounding like we wished we were anywhere but in front of the telly soaking up our favourite game. After all, I'm content watching six overweight blokes comically swishing the air at beach cricket, or indeed spending a whole season experiencing the unfathomable lows that attend every day of being a Surrey CCC season ticket holder, so what horrors could possibly accompany a simple ODI between my beloved England and their oldest foe?

    Well, I've finally seen the barrel scraped and yet have two more of these ludicrous encounters to endure. At the Gabba on Sunday, England's batsmen contrived dismissals that had they come from the bats of Hansie Cronje or Salman Butt would have invited an international enquiry.

     

    For in truth the pitch, whilst slower than Brisbane pitches in normal summers, was perfectly acceptable.

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  • Trott’s heroics keeps England alive

     

    So, after carving out decent opportunities to win the 1st and 2nd ODIs but blowing it with dreadful batting, England finally chalked up a victory thanks in large part to Jonathan Trott who I didn't think should have been playing. Note to self; give up punditry.

     

    The Sofa was delighted to welcome back Aussie agent provocateur Jarrod Kimber for the Australia Day game at Adelaide and his foul mouthed dismissal of all things Australia Day related worked like a charm as his own brethren failed to answer the patriotic call of duty out on the pitch.

     

    Brett Lee's first "ball" set the tone for 50 overs of largely limp, often heinous and mostly wayward bowling. Indeed England were 12-0 after that first over and Prior had avoided the ignominy of three consecutive ducks.

     

    Strauss again got started and got out, this time edging flat footedly at Lee who had uncharacteristically unleashed a volley of words at the England skipper the ball before. I guess he may try that again.

     

    The arrival of

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  • England Crash To Third Defeat In Comedy Of Errors

    The whole ODI scene has gone ill for England. A thumping
    defeat in the 3rd match of a 7 match series may not be immediately
    fatal for England's chances at the World Cup, but an alarming tendency to
    ineptitude with the bat hints at deeper structural problems in the longer
    limited overs format.

     

    The first two matches had seen long passages of play during
    which England were well on top of their hosts. How they failed to get over 300
    in the first match, and throw away a position of seemingly impregnable
    dominance at Hobart in the 2nd we can only guess, but at Sydney they
    were truly woeful from beginning almost to the end.

     

    The rigidity of making the wicket keeper open the batting is
    currently doing Prior no favours and again he failed to make a run. And again
    it was a fine ball from Lee that did for him, but why is he being expected to
    face fast bowlers with the new ball?

     

    Strauss, as has been the case all tour, looked comfortable
    enough but his run out with both he and Trott at the

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  • Bollinger reborn as Sobers

     

     

    This is all starting to become depressingly familiar. In 2009, a less good England won the Ashes against a slightly better Australia and then promptly slumped to six consecutive one day defeats. Following today's dismal showing with the bat, England have now lost three matches on the trot (including the second T20) and have got a job on their hands if they're to win this seven match series.

     

    It all began so well. Twenty past three in the morning is not a great time to find yourself commentating on cricket, but Australia's batsmen proved to be the perfect cure for narcolepsy as the top order, put in to bat by Strauss, succumbed to the fabulous new ball bowling of Shahzad and Tremlett.

     

    First to shuffle off was last Sunday's all Australian hero Shane Watson, playing on to Shahzad whilst trying to cut a fullish ball down on the angle to third man. I'd been predicting he'd get out like that since late November and finally he obliged. Haddin drove more airily than a limp wristed

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