Only a fool makes predictions about T20 cricket
Anyone who made any predictions about the winter's Ashes will concur that surprising things happen in cricket. When it comes to T20s, the unpredictability is magnified.
So, while Sri Lanka's thumping of the Netherlands yesterday was no shock, the latter's presence in the main draw of the competition is certainly notable. That they should have progressed at the expense of Ireland, who are patently the best of the Associate teams, may suggest complacency on behalf of the Irish as much as Dutch brilliance.
Then again, perhaps it was just that dashed T20 unpredictability: the same randomness that saw Bangladesh beaten by Hong Kong and Nepal pip the potential dark houses of Afghanstan.
India or Sri Lanka to win, fool
Bearing in mind all of the above, it is hard to read very much into the results of the "Super 10 series" so far. Sri Lanka will be a match for better sides than Holland. Meanwhile, South Africa's last-gasp defeat of a much-fancied New Zealand suggested a new-found ability to deal with high pressure situations (probably until a silly run-out in the semis).
Having got used to watching West Indies get the better of England, it was sobering to be reminded of the fact that really they can be pretty mediocre. Australia too may find there is insufficient consistency in their line-up to challenge for the main prize.
So, who will take home the winners' vase? Sri Lanka have a strong case. But India might just be coming into form at the right moment so if push came to shove I'd have a punt in their direction. Really though, who the heck knows? You might just as well stick a quid on England. Stranger things have happened.
Some very average post-match remarks
England saw the light in their first game against New Zealand. Indeed, they appear to have seen it some while before the umpires, who not unreasonably wanted to get a game in, and who therefore ignored electrical storms until a sufficient number of balls had been bowled.
Fining Stuart Broad for his post-match outburst about the "average" umpiring seemed a tad over the top by the ICC. Decisions about taking cricketers off for poor weather are as subjective as they come, so to disbar players from giving their own contrary opinion is childish. This isn't football.
Nevertheless, Broad's response to his punishment - that he would confine himself in future to bland, unopinionated post-match comments - was slightly wide of the mark. For a start, to call decision-making by match officials "average" is about as bland as it gets. Second, it isn't so much the lack of opinion we punters mind: it's the utter banality of the platitude-filled management-speak we are forced to listen to. Let the content be bland, but at least jolly up the presentation.
Forget Bangladesh, Abu Dhabi is where it's at
Aside from providing an arena in which to try out pink balls without worrying about rain, the now traditional, county season curtain-raiser in the desert remains a mysterious creature.
Durham are currently taking on an MCC side captained by Virender Sehwag, whose wicket was picked up by Scott Borthwick. England's leg-spinner took three in total in the MCC's first innings, also among them Sri Lanka wicket-keeper, Prasanna Jayawardene. He scored a fifty from number 3 too.
Of course, spinning prospects come and go. The other main attraction in the game should know: Monty Panesar took a 5-fer on the first day to remind the selectors that he might not be finished just yet.
Twitter: @willjgoreReuse content