March 30, 2007

Whose side are you on now?

ESPNcricinfo staff
Now that India is out of the World Cup, watching the games has become a pleasurable, anxiety-free, almost aesthetic exercise
71

Now that India is out of the World Cup, watching the games has become a pleasurable, anxiety-free, almost aesthetic exercise. My nails are beginning to grow back; I have stopped giving the sofa a hammering every three minutes; and my daughter, I hope, will sooner rather than later begin to forget the swear words she picked up by being in my presence during the India games. It’s great fun, unadulterated fun, watching the cricket now. (In fact, it’s a little like the football World Cup: No India, great games.)

And there is so much to watch, so much worth staying up for: Shane Bond’s bursts of pure speed and control (it must be one of the most beautiful sights in the world, a genuinely quick bowler in full throttle); Matthew Hayden’s successive hundreds (the first one reminded me of the choreographed carnage at the end of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather. Hayden was ruthless and bloodied the opposition but there was such precision, such beauty in the violence); Malinga’s unforgettable four-ball devastation; and the brave manner in which South Africa began its (eventually unsuccessful) reply to the Australian total. It’s all riveting stuff, and there is so much of it around.

But there is this thing: Is it ever possible to watch any sport without actually supporting one of the two sides? (Or players if it happens to be an individual sport.) I think not. The 2005 Ashes series was the greatest ever and I enjoyed watching it more than many, many series in which India played but I was supporting a team: England, in that case. (The reasons are complicated, and I shan’t go into them here.)

While watching England play Australia (or X plays Y when neither is India) I am not as tortured as I would be if India plays, but I am very engaged with the fortunes of a particular side. The game itself gives great pleasure; but we need to identify with one of the two teams to give the experience of watching that extra frisson.

So it is with this World Cup too. I always know which of the two teams on the day I support.

But I am yet to decide which side I really want to go all the way. (In football, it’s always an easy choice. Ever since Diego Maradona arrived, I have been an Argentina supporter.) But I shall have to make up my mind soon.

Have you made up yours?

Soumya Bhattacharya is the editor of Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He is the author of two volumes of cricketing memoirs - You Must Like Cricket? and All That You Can't Leave Behind - and a novel, If I Could Tell You

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • vijay padmanabhan on April 26, 2007, 19:20 GMT

    Well now the wait is over. My predictions were bit awry. Both NZ and SA flaterred to deceive. I dont think any team threatened to defeat Aus in recent times. India has not beaten Aus since Jan 2004 on a glorious night in brisbane. Only plcaes other than no 1 have swapped only for SA to dismantle Aus for a brief hiatus. Well even though people dont support aussies winning world cup, they got to understand that no other team has even given a whimp of danger to aussies yet. Srilanka might dethrone aussies on a given day, but given the manner in which aussies have demoralised the opponents so far, even a srilankan upset would not convince a cricket geek to say that srilanka would deserve the trophy. I'm not saying that other teams are a dud, i just want people to imagine what level the other teams have to raise their bar to beat australia. only way aus can be beaten as of now is brininging a equally strong Aus a team and play them in the final. We still feel Aus dominance is not bad for cricket, but i cant help but revel at the sight of thoroughbred display from this champion team for 8 years and they are yet to be beaten. Srilanka, watch out. U got to bring something superhuman out of urself to dismantle Aussies from the throne they have occupied for near a decade. U might as well start dreaming now.

  • sanjana on April 25, 2007, 15:22 GMT

    A spectacularly crashing dream - India's exit - triggered off this post, and yet another one brings me back to OUTSIDE LOOKING IN. New Zealand lost. New Zealand were crushed. Won't ever get to see Fleming in that Fern again. The Kiwis didn't really inspire a whole lot of confidence - frankly, not even in that mauling of South Africa. There's something annoying, something very perplexing about under-achievers...How Inzy snatched it away from them in '92 when I first started watching cricket, and how Malinga slung-shot them out of it in 2007 when I’m contemplating stopping watching cricket, will remain the stuff that nightmares are made of. Methinks, they were a little rusty throughout. Styris - the man who shot to fame in his maiden India trip deserved better, big man J O too for his run of form, Fleming more than anyone else...and so did McMillan - possibly the most entertaining and insanely talented of characters in international cricket, who will retire to a single-column mention in newspaper briefs one of these routine days.....Eternal semifinalists ??? Fleming, he of the most peaceful of countenances, had snapped back NO when the Kiwis were thrown the poser at the Champions Trophy in India...He will have to live with the tag for the rest of his life...Sad. So, do I move on and start trumpeting for Sri Lanka because New Zealand lost, and well, its not fashionable to support the Aussies - and India never commanded any respect or affection anyhow ? Not really. I'll stick to my team...At the next world cup ? Nah. I'll follow their progress through the next four years. How Dan Vettori evolves, does McCullum take over from Gilchrist, how Jeetu Patel comes through in India, does Mark Gilchrist continue to stay economical at the death, Peter Fulton - can he match Hayden's Power-play, does Bond regain his confidence after the Zak-sque first over, and ofcourse McMillan....Do New Zealand get to play as much as say India, australia, England...There’s joy in keeping track of the journey - i’ll save the anxiety for the 2011 semifinal. Rest assured, my Men in Black promise to be around !!! Cheers. N Flem, we still love you, no matter what.

  • JT on April 17, 2007, 16:24 GMT

    Final will be Oz and Kiwis

    kiwis are the only team with the Heart, skill and experience to defeat Australia.

    lets face it a kiwi will walk on to a field bleeding to death if it meant beating Australia.

  • Sayyam on April 13, 2007, 0:30 GMT

    I British born but born to asian parents with a pakistani dad n a sri-lankan mom, i would like to see the finals SL Vs Aussie, it would bring back memories of 1996 world cup, i agree for a certain extent the SL team is not soo strong as the 96 SL squad but they have the spirt, talent, determination n the decipline, they deserve to win, if SL could take up Aussies in 96 they surly can kick their ass in 2007, if not for SL i would like NZ winning the world cup.

  • Vijay padmanabhan on April 11, 2007, 17:46 GMT

    Actually australia losing to england and newzealand in the later stages of that long one day series had something to do with Australia playing a tricky cunning game to make people belive that they can be beaten in this world cup. But by losing so, they infact made things scarier for other teams who knows what backlash can be expected from this wounded champions. This australian team is not used to losing whatever and i would not be surprised if they would be victorious in any sport let alone cricket. No team had the hunget to win the world cup 3 times more than the 80's windies side. People accuse aussies of sledging and being rruthless, but does any team really try to make the match of it by talking at as a challenge? The only team i feel which could make a match is newzealand. Srilanka is as unpredicatable because of malinga, but they dont seem to be strong enough to threaten australia. So my vote goes to Aus and Nz straightaway and lets hope Bonds yorkers devastate Aus batsman as that indian ocean tsunami

  • Prasad on April 10, 2007, 4:22 GMT

    I'm a Sri Lankan living in the US. Without all the expat Indians, I wouldn't be able to watch the world cup at work. So, the Indian (and to a lesser extent all the other South Asian) support for the game is needed no matter South Asian teams are in our out. Thank you guys.

    So, we see it now, right? We can enjoy the game better when we take the nationalism out of it. So why not take it one step further? Let the highest level of Cricket be played between teams of mixed nationalities. That way none of us have to blindly support our national team. Think about it ... how will Hayden play against Tait or Jayasuria against Murali or Fleming against Bond ... interesting matchups, eh? :-)

    As for the World Cup this time around, Australia is in the best form. No one will be able to beat them. NZ or SL will come close, but no cigar. Just look at the size of those bicepts and necks. They are bigger than thighs of some Sri Lankans. (Hmmm... those not in the US, google Barry Bonds and BALCO :-))

  • Valavan on April 9, 2007, 16:33 GMT

    Its good if anyone else takes other than Australia. SL has good bowling, NZ have good allrounders and SA has good fielding. Yet Aussie seems clinical. One mistake against Aussies will lead to loss. The clear evidence is Aus Vs Eng match. I can see Nathan Bracken going to be the world beater this time. HOPE everyone watched his Bowling performance throughout the WC. Australia can loose when they really have bad luck on their day(This is only being proven). They dont play like they lost the CB series and whitewashed by NZ. If SL can post 280+ in their game against Aussie, they have good chance, but even if Aussie put 210 on board, you cant bet that SL will win, All teams have PLAN A, PLAN B, PLAN C and PLAN D. But ausiies are the clinical executers of plans. So Again Aussie have chances of regaining the trophy than others

  • Pradeep N. on April 8, 2007, 10:13 GMT

    We must support Sri Lanka for the following reasons:

    1. Only team in the world representing major religions(Hindu:Murali; Christian:Vaas, Dilhara, Russel Arnold; Muslim:Maharoof; Buddhist: Jayasuriya, Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Malinga, Silva

    2.Most of their names have a Sanskrit origin(In fact, Sinhala language is around 25% Hindi and the Script is similar to South Indian)

    3.They belong to the SAARC, and share common values.

    4. They deserve it, as they are the only side from the sub-continent to exploit situations and handle pressure easily!!!!

    So, go Lanka go!!!!!!!!

  • Lesley on April 7, 2007, 4:12 GMT

    Go for it South Africa now is the time. Dave you say they managed to score 400 in a minor game, except it was not so minor that the newspapers flashed it across the whole of Australia about the record breaking score Ponting and his men got and then had to retract it the next day after South Africa won it. Also the chokers tag was given to them by the Aussies it is a sociological edge when they play them.

    As for Sri Lanka - Murali's balling as been tested and it is within the rules so that is good enough for me and a lot of others, so guess he must be a champion only a cheat to those that loose. So Go Sri Lanka Go.

  • Dave on April 6, 2007, 14:25 GMT

    Scratch the minnows Scratch the West Indies England at the exit point

    Leaves South Africa, Australia, Kiwis & Sri Lanks

    South Africa have choked time and time again when its counted. Then of course they managed to be the second team in history to score above 400 in a minor game and a year later its all they can talk about. Will choke again and then blame rain/luck/calculators/equality rules/umpire but not themselves

    The cut-throat nature will suit Sri Lanka, inconsistent like any Asian side but deeper talent and character than India & Pakistan. Perfectly capable of pulling this off. Whether you'd back them or not probably depends on whether you think Murali is a champion or cheat. The wildcard

    Australia. Best team in test and on day cricket by a mile a mile (how many world cups did that famous 1980's WIndies side win again?), unbeaten in world cups for over 20 matches. Shooting for their 3rd win in a row and 5th final in the last 6 cups. So no-one outside Australia except maybe an Irishman will back them.

    New Zealand. Tough, gritty, talented with the best captain in the game. The only team that seems to relish playing Australia. Go you Kiwis go!

  • vijay padmanabhan on April 26, 2007, 19:20 GMT

    Well now the wait is over. My predictions were bit awry. Both NZ and SA flaterred to deceive. I dont think any team threatened to defeat Aus in recent times. India has not beaten Aus since Jan 2004 on a glorious night in brisbane. Only plcaes other than no 1 have swapped only for SA to dismantle Aus for a brief hiatus. Well even though people dont support aussies winning world cup, they got to understand that no other team has even given a whimp of danger to aussies yet. Srilanka might dethrone aussies on a given day, but given the manner in which aussies have demoralised the opponents so far, even a srilankan upset would not convince a cricket geek to say that srilanka would deserve the trophy. I'm not saying that other teams are a dud, i just want people to imagine what level the other teams have to raise their bar to beat australia. only way aus can be beaten as of now is brininging a equally strong Aus a team and play them in the final. We still feel Aus dominance is not bad for cricket, but i cant help but revel at the sight of thoroughbred display from this champion team for 8 years and they are yet to be beaten. Srilanka, watch out. U got to bring something superhuman out of urself to dismantle Aussies from the throne they have occupied for near a decade. U might as well start dreaming now.

  • sanjana on April 25, 2007, 15:22 GMT

    A spectacularly crashing dream - India's exit - triggered off this post, and yet another one brings me back to OUTSIDE LOOKING IN. New Zealand lost. New Zealand were crushed. Won't ever get to see Fleming in that Fern again. The Kiwis didn't really inspire a whole lot of confidence - frankly, not even in that mauling of South Africa. There's something annoying, something very perplexing about under-achievers...How Inzy snatched it away from them in '92 when I first started watching cricket, and how Malinga slung-shot them out of it in 2007 when I’m contemplating stopping watching cricket, will remain the stuff that nightmares are made of. Methinks, they were a little rusty throughout. Styris - the man who shot to fame in his maiden India trip deserved better, big man J O too for his run of form, Fleming more than anyone else...and so did McMillan - possibly the most entertaining and insanely talented of characters in international cricket, who will retire to a single-column mention in newspaper briefs one of these routine days.....Eternal semifinalists ??? Fleming, he of the most peaceful of countenances, had snapped back NO when the Kiwis were thrown the poser at the Champions Trophy in India...He will have to live with the tag for the rest of his life...Sad. So, do I move on and start trumpeting for Sri Lanka because New Zealand lost, and well, its not fashionable to support the Aussies - and India never commanded any respect or affection anyhow ? Not really. I'll stick to my team...At the next world cup ? Nah. I'll follow their progress through the next four years. How Dan Vettori evolves, does McCullum take over from Gilchrist, how Jeetu Patel comes through in India, does Mark Gilchrist continue to stay economical at the death, Peter Fulton - can he match Hayden's Power-play, does Bond regain his confidence after the Zak-sque first over, and ofcourse McMillan....Do New Zealand get to play as much as say India, australia, England...There’s joy in keeping track of the journey - i’ll save the anxiety for the 2011 semifinal. Rest assured, my Men in Black promise to be around !!! Cheers. N Flem, we still love you, no matter what.

  • JT on April 17, 2007, 16:24 GMT

    Final will be Oz and Kiwis

    kiwis are the only team with the Heart, skill and experience to defeat Australia.

    lets face it a kiwi will walk on to a field bleeding to death if it meant beating Australia.

  • Sayyam on April 13, 2007, 0:30 GMT

    I British born but born to asian parents with a pakistani dad n a sri-lankan mom, i would like to see the finals SL Vs Aussie, it would bring back memories of 1996 world cup, i agree for a certain extent the SL team is not soo strong as the 96 SL squad but they have the spirt, talent, determination n the decipline, they deserve to win, if SL could take up Aussies in 96 they surly can kick their ass in 2007, if not for SL i would like NZ winning the world cup.

  • Vijay padmanabhan on April 11, 2007, 17:46 GMT

    Actually australia losing to england and newzealand in the later stages of that long one day series had something to do with Australia playing a tricky cunning game to make people belive that they can be beaten in this world cup. But by losing so, they infact made things scarier for other teams who knows what backlash can be expected from this wounded champions. This australian team is not used to losing whatever and i would not be surprised if they would be victorious in any sport let alone cricket. No team had the hunget to win the world cup 3 times more than the 80's windies side. People accuse aussies of sledging and being rruthless, but does any team really try to make the match of it by talking at as a challenge? The only team i feel which could make a match is newzealand. Srilanka is as unpredicatable because of malinga, but they dont seem to be strong enough to threaten australia. So my vote goes to Aus and Nz straightaway and lets hope Bonds yorkers devastate Aus batsman as that indian ocean tsunami

  • Prasad on April 10, 2007, 4:22 GMT

    I'm a Sri Lankan living in the US. Without all the expat Indians, I wouldn't be able to watch the world cup at work. So, the Indian (and to a lesser extent all the other South Asian) support for the game is needed no matter South Asian teams are in our out. Thank you guys.

    So, we see it now, right? We can enjoy the game better when we take the nationalism out of it. So why not take it one step further? Let the highest level of Cricket be played between teams of mixed nationalities. That way none of us have to blindly support our national team. Think about it ... how will Hayden play against Tait or Jayasuria against Murali or Fleming against Bond ... interesting matchups, eh? :-)

    As for the World Cup this time around, Australia is in the best form. No one will be able to beat them. NZ or SL will come close, but no cigar. Just look at the size of those bicepts and necks. They are bigger than thighs of some Sri Lankans. (Hmmm... those not in the US, google Barry Bonds and BALCO :-))

  • Valavan on April 9, 2007, 16:33 GMT

    Its good if anyone else takes other than Australia. SL has good bowling, NZ have good allrounders and SA has good fielding. Yet Aussie seems clinical. One mistake against Aussies will lead to loss. The clear evidence is Aus Vs Eng match. I can see Nathan Bracken going to be the world beater this time. HOPE everyone watched his Bowling performance throughout the WC. Australia can loose when they really have bad luck on their day(This is only being proven). They dont play like they lost the CB series and whitewashed by NZ. If SL can post 280+ in their game against Aussie, they have good chance, but even if Aussie put 210 on board, you cant bet that SL will win, All teams have PLAN A, PLAN B, PLAN C and PLAN D. But ausiies are the clinical executers of plans. So Again Aussie have chances of regaining the trophy than others

  • Pradeep N. on April 8, 2007, 10:13 GMT

    We must support Sri Lanka for the following reasons:

    1. Only team in the world representing major religions(Hindu:Murali; Christian:Vaas, Dilhara, Russel Arnold; Muslim:Maharoof; Buddhist: Jayasuriya, Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Malinga, Silva

    2.Most of their names have a Sanskrit origin(In fact, Sinhala language is around 25% Hindi and the Script is similar to South Indian)

    3.They belong to the SAARC, and share common values.

    4. They deserve it, as they are the only side from the sub-continent to exploit situations and handle pressure easily!!!!

    So, go Lanka go!!!!!!!!

  • Lesley on April 7, 2007, 4:12 GMT

    Go for it South Africa now is the time. Dave you say they managed to score 400 in a minor game, except it was not so minor that the newspapers flashed it across the whole of Australia about the record breaking score Ponting and his men got and then had to retract it the next day after South Africa won it. Also the chokers tag was given to them by the Aussies it is a sociological edge when they play them.

    As for Sri Lanka - Murali's balling as been tested and it is within the rules so that is good enough for me and a lot of others, so guess he must be a champion only a cheat to those that loose. So Go Sri Lanka Go.

  • Dave on April 6, 2007, 14:25 GMT

    Scratch the minnows Scratch the West Indies England at the exit point

    Leaves South Africa, Australia, Kiwis & Sri Lanks

    South Africa have choked time and time again when its counted. Then of course they managed to be the second team in history to score above 400 in a minor game and a year later its all they can talk about. Will choke again and then blame rain/luck/calculators/equality rules/umpire but not themselves

    The cut-throat nature will suit Sri Lanka, inconsistent like any Asian side but deeper talent and character than India & Pakistan. Perfectly capable of pulling this off. Whether you'd back them or not probably depends on whether you think Murali is a champion or cheat. The wildcard

    Australia. Best team in test and on day cricket by a mile a mile (how many world cups did that famous 1980's WIndies side win again?), unbeaten in world cups for over 20 matches. Shooting for their 3rd win in a row and 5th final in the last 6 cups. So no-one outside Australia except maybe an Irishman will back them.

    New Zealand. Tough, gritty, talented with the best captain in the game. The only team that seems to relish playing Australia. Go you Kiwis go!

  • gops on April 6, 2007, 10:49 GMT

    I would like Srilanka to win the worldcup for their attractive cricket.Next comes SA bcoz they were treated roughly in 1992 and also they were one of the consistent teams around who can challenge Aussie dominance.Next comes awesome Aussies (??? shocked)for what they have achieved over the years.When you look @ the way subcontinent giants were eliminated only then u realise how difficult it is to maintain such high standards in world cricket as the aussies have done.

  • Sankar Nair on April 5, 2007, 20:39 GMT

    Any team except Australia and South Africa

  • Ashwin.A on April 5, 2007, 19:57 GMT

    ahhh...at last. A light hearted article. And a fantastic one at that. Anyways, this is , I think the first time I have read all the comments posted for a blog. Quite a few I must say. So there are various things i want to point out here.

    First and foremost, PK's comments. Murali is India's son-in law. I could not help laughing when I read that. You are so right. I never thought of it from that angle. 2. I see a lot of supporters for Srilanka, Black Caps and S.Africa and also a lot of anti-aussies. 3. "Paris in the snow"- agree with you. Samuels holds/held the key for a west indian win. and also I think they way gayle bowls/will bowl holds the key. And for all you guys who think Lara has to be stripped of his captaincy. Who do you think has to be given the skippie post? errrrr...Clive Lloyd? Mates, they dont have one single bloke to take the mantle. So please, let Lara do his job. And try listening to him once in a while. Andy Roberts, you are kidding me maaan! Wasn't Lara there when you selected the West Indian team? You cant be serious! The captain of the side was not there when a world cup team was being selected? ahhhhhhhh...now I think I know, why the windies are not doing too well. 3. As for who I want to see lifting the cup? well...has to be Graeme Smith. Reasons- a.I love South Africa. The way they play their cricket and the fighting spirit they show. b. Previous world cup debacles- 92,99 and 03 and Lara spoiling their party always. Lara, you are a crazy genius I must say. c. A country which came out of a ban and straight away did not waste time and hogged all the limelight. d.Jonty Rhodes once played for this country. He is their fielding coach at the moment. e. Would be a fitting tribute to Mr.Woolmer.

    I would not be surprised if they lose this time around as well. Their bowling is too similar and boring. But Im still hoping for the best.

    Other teams which deserve the world cup are the Aussies ofcourse, Kiwis and the lankans.

    1. Aussies- I am not your greatest fan. But I am begging you. This game needs a change and some love. Please Ricky, do not lift that thing again. Cricket, I am sure will lose a lot of its fans and supporters if that happens. Glenn McGrath, I know you are a fantastic bowler and cricket will dearly miss you and Warney. But please, can you just shut that damn hole in your face for a while. Trust me, you will drop a catch this time around and my curse is that it will cost you guys the cup.

    Fellas, to plot an Aussie downfall which I think many of you are hoping for, we have to let either Murali play them or the kiwis. Not the S.Africans. I somehow dont see them pulling it off with the Aussies. Hope the two teams dont meet in the semis.

    Alright, in the end, may the best team win. (aussies- i am not talking to u though)

  • ksm on April 5, 2007, 18:46 GMT

    excellent piece of writing... the first 2.5 paragraphs !!

  • Shafraz on April 5, 2007, 14:07 GMT

    It's shaping out to be one of the tightest World Cups ever is'nt it? I think we all know who the semi finalists will be, (AUS,SA,NZ & SL) but can you pick the finalists and the champions??? Maybe the Aussies still have an edge over the others .... but it's too tight to call .... Will be interesting to see how the Aussie batsmen cope with the Sri Lankan bowling? (everybody else has found it tough going)

  • Saurabh on April 5, 2007, 11:14 GMT

    Fantastic article. Brought out a delightful and underappreciated aspect of the tragedy of supporting Indian cricket team.

    I was accused by my friends of being anti-national when I supported Sri Lanka after they knocked us out in 1996 semis and Sri Lanka it is once again. If Sangakkara can raise his game a bit, they can surely humble the Aussies.

  • vector on April 5, 2007, 3:38 GMT

    Go SL, go get it.

    SEMIFINALS :- Australia, NZ, SL, SA FINALS :- AUS, SL CHAMPS :- SL

  • Pradeep on April 4, 2007, 23:29 GMT

    I am fast becoming a fan of your writing...

    I am favoring NZ and Srilanka.

  • Glovesy on April 4, 2007, 3:56 GMT

    Kobus,

    I know of one team that nearly managed to lose after needing 3 runs to win with 5 wickets in hand...

  • Swapnil Shah on April 3, 2007, 16:13 GMT

    At work in USA, and no access, nor desire (with the recent demise of Indian Cricket:( ) for Live Cricket.

    When I first started watching the representation of the current game on Cricinfo 3d, I thought it was pathetic, especially with the kind of graphics and animation that we are treated to these days. However, as I watch it more and more, I now feel like I am watching it live. I have begun to see the mannerisms especially in the cover drives, the leg side flicks, and the mis-timed pull over the fielder's head.

    I do get a lot more work done too since the game is suring the day.

    No comments on how to fix Indian Cricket.

    As to my favorites. Since there have been so many firsts already this WC, lets have a new WC champion. This means SAf or NZL (NZL and SAf have far too much batting and bowling depth, Eng have none whatsoever). But I'd like to go for New Zealand. Excellent reasons provided by sanjana. SAf cannot beat Aus with the lack if variety. NZL have the varied bowling attack too. And imagine an Indian team with Sachin Tendulkar retiring just before the tournament, Irfan Pathan just back from injury, Saurav Gaunguly injured, Virender Sehwag injured, Ajit Agarkar injured, Sreesanth injured and Munaf having a paralysis attack. That is what NZL had to cope with Astle, Oram, Vincent, Taylor, Mason, and Gillespie but they are still unbeaten in this tournament.

  • Paris in the snow on April 3, 2007, 10:50 GMT

    I wish there was a more appropriate section that I could post these comments but there isn't so here goes: - why is the media highlighting the early exit of Pakistan and Indian as one of reasons for the possible financial failure of the CWC? I empathize with Indian and Pakistani cricket fans - but shouldn't we be cheering Bangladesh and Ireland on - especially Bangladesh who have put has put years of effort into their cricket and deserve some favourable results/fortune. Who cares about fickle-minded Pepsi executives if they want to pull their ads? I mean their money is good but to acknowlegde their importance instead of extending encouragement/congratulations to the so-called 'minnows' of international cricket seems a bit of a 'sell-out'. Go Ireland! Go Bangladesh! Boo to big commercial companies - who don't have cricket in their hearts!

    - many West Indies want to slay (Brian) Lara for the team's failure - including, no surprise here, Michael Holding. I am not a fan of Lara's tactics and strategies but to blame our defeats on the captaincy is divisive -at best - and at worst - very ignorant. The entire team is responding negatively to pressure.

    - I think that Marlon Samuels is/was the key to WI success in the tournament. Everyone - including the opposition - knows what to expect from Lara, Chandrapaul, Sarwan and Gayle, but we needed at least one other batsman to do something special. Samuels has the ability but appears to have gone back to being satisfied with the mediocrity after his match-winning innings V. Pakistan. We need batsmen to make centuries and more – not quick fifties.

    Go Ireland! Go Bangladesh!

  • Sarel on April 3, 2007, 9:10 GMT

    I will support ANY team if any of the batsmen can manage to hit a ball straight back to Brad Hogg, which bounces of his head, whereafter Roy attempts to catch it and pulls his bicept, and McGrath, in his attempt to sledge the batsman, chokes in his chewing gum. If the physio thereafter, in his haste to get to Pigeon and Roy, gets tangled in Michael Clarkes' earring, it will be a bonus! Go batsmen!

  • Deepti on April 2, 2007, 18:36 GMT

    Sri Lanka all the way. It would be eaither them or Australia and I love the Sri Lankans attitude, spirit and gentlemen through and through.

  • Aditya Mookerjee on April 2, 2007, 16:19 GMT

    May the Best Team be victorious, and may cricket be the greater victor.

  • kobus on April 2, 2007, 14:10 GMT

    just a quick note to all those copycats, people who can't think for themselves and just want to say something (anything) that they heard somewhere before : SA ditched their chockers tag ages ago, now go and come up with your own thoughts...and good luck!! (show me chockers who chase down 434; thought you couldnt ;-)

  • RV on April 2, 2007, 3:39 GMT

    As long as it's not Australia again, I'll be happy if any team won the Cup. It would have been interesting if the Windies could manage it, but they don't look capable.

    I'd probably like the Lankans to get the cup, to be honest, but would not be too sad if it went to SA or England.

  • capix on April 2, 2007, 2:46 GMT

    AS if Australia won't win it all...they have the best team and play with determination. They have a look in their eyes of insane madmen. Their fielding is brilliant and you always see them jumping around on the field full of energy. They enjoy their cricket, they play hard, and its a joy to watch. India were dismal in the field, heads down. SL don't have the tools to deal with Mcrath and co, SA=CHOKE, NZ are a good threat, but at the end of the day...Australia are too good.

  • Lion on April 2, 2007, 1:35 GMT

    My money for tropical mango Sri lanka.First thing is win England Ireland NZ games. Then Keep Jayasuriya/Malinga/Vass/Murali behind the veil in Super 8 against high flying Aussies.Then Payback in the semi or Final.

  • Nath on April 2, 2007, 1:03 GMT

    Australia are the best team by far and should win easily.

    However, I have to wonder about comments by people such as Amandeep and Aditya ... why do they think it's OK to hate Australians but then accuse Australians of being racist? Amandeep and Aditya, please try to educate yourselves with the facts of the matter that you are discussing, because based on your narrowminded, ignorant and hateful comments, it would appear that you are the racists.

  • Shankar on April 1, 2007, 11:53 GMT

    My money on NZ. NZ, SL, SA and Aus making the semis, and an Aussie-NZ final should be rocking!

  • awad on April 1, 2007, 11:32 GMT

    I personally feel ,south africa has what it takes to win the world cup this time.They have the spirit to fight and win in the most impossible situations like the 438 game.I would prefer that aus doesnt win, and hope for a south africa vs aus final, in which south africa simply smashes the aussies like the aussies did to india in 2003 final with smith leading from the front. Inshallah proteas will win this time, luck is gonna favour them

  • Saju Muthalaly on April 1, 2007, 11:23 GMT

    England surely. The makers of cricket deserve a world cup win. Its coming... its there... GO ON ENGLAND!

  • PK on April 1, 2007, 8:49 GMT

    Sri Lanka. Murali married an Indian girl, so he's India's son-in-law. Hence we have to, whether we like it or not, support Sri Lanka. Simple, familial logic! (That, and Murali's manic grin every time he gets wicket - a joy to watch).

  • Chitraj on April 1, 2007, 8:23 GMT

    Always, supported the Kiwis after India- and no different this World Cup. The only team in which, even if you reverse the batting order, you will perhaps end up with the same score. The play with heart and passion- its a game for them not a business. With Oram, arguably the best allrounder on present form; Fleming, undoubtedly the best captain and a great batsman; Bond, one of the quickest and most effective fast bowlers; Styris- can change a game through his bowling or batting;Mcmillan- a busy and useful middle order batsman; and not to forget Vettori- perhaps the best left arm spinner in the world.

    Come on black caps- Do me PROUD, take the world cup!!

  • Ramu Ramsingh on April 1, 2007, 8:08 GMT

    India was always a highly over-rated side. Only 3 players have any backbone: Dravid, Munaf, and possibly Sreesanth. Tendulkar has never had mental strength, the rest (e.g. Aggakar) play like small girls. The teams to watch are Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and even Lanka. Indian cricket is a dumpster right now; they need to clean out all the current fellows and start from scratch based on MERIT.

  • Anonymous on March 31, 2007, 22:19 GMT

    Great stuff u say abt being a neutral. I am 20 and last 5 yrs. cricket hasnt been my favourite sport anymore . I like F1 and football much more . And no (or hardly any) Indian involvement means I enjoy these sports like hell. I think cricket has really lost its support and except the sub-continent and perhaps Australia its not that big a sport.

    Good thing u r Argentina fan bcoz they are by far my favourite football team and McLaren's my favourite F1 team(no India involvement by far). And this world cup Ireland's guts have really bowled me over(1 of the rare cases where I have been inspired by a cricket team) but v all know they wont win. So heres my pick

    1. Ireland 2. England 3. South Africa 4. West Indies 5. New Zealand 6. Bangladesh 7. Sri Lanka 8. Any1 except Australia plz .. cricket needs it

    And as for the team I think will win 1. Australia 2. New Zealand 3. South Africa 4. Sri Lanka 5. West Indies 6. England 7. Bangladesh 8. Ireland

    So best of luck Ireland.

  • Srinath on March 31, 2007, 22:10 GMT

    First choice : Sri Lanka, since they're the closest to home i.e. Chennai Second choice : South Africa. Poor chaps. Give them a break !

  • Masha on March 31, 2007, 18:13 GMT

    Sri Lankans, ofcourse!!

  • Afker Hussain on March 31, 2007, 15:40 GMT

    As a Sri Lankan I am sad to see India get knocked out of the World Cup.. I dreamt of an all Asian final where the Sri Lankans take on their freindly neighbours... but sadly it was not to be. I hope the Sri Lankans can bring the cup to the region and and it would be great if we could knock off the arrogant aussies one more time. Lets win the world cup for the Asia !!! Long live India, Pakistan, Sri lanka and Bangladesh !!!!

  • Travis on March 31, 2007, 14:25 GMT

    An Aussie guy here.

    Just wanted to say that I hope Soumya enjoys the rest of the world cup and that I fully agree with Sanjana about NZ's prospects.

    Vettori and Bond are the most underrated bowlers in world cricket and they have some seriously powerful hitters on the batting front.

    Anyone but England, and judging from their pitiful performance vs Ireland that's not going to happen. I'd prefer that South Africa didn't win as well.

    I'd love to see the West Indies win the rest of their Super 8 matches.

  • Ghufran on March 31, 2007, 14:03 GMT

    If not India, If not Pakistan, Then Bangladesh, Then Srilanka. The World Cup must come into our continent.

  • Bala on March 31, 2007, 12:55 GMT

    Well, i would like to say that i'll never support Indian team, bcos of partiality, there is no team spirit, having hope on individual players, giving chance to players for nothing(including experienced players), most of all "EGO" between players. i always admire of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa of their team spirit. i dont care abt their personal life or arrogance, i think we talk abt their games so no point in talking abt their arrogance or personal life. so i love to support Australia and New Zealand, if New Zealand and Australia is on Finals i'll support New Zealand.

  • sandeep sahu on March 31, 2007, 12:32 GMT

    Yes, I have and its is a team that has never won the World Cup - New Zealand. If any team in the Super 8 looks like stopping the Aussie juggernaut, it is the Kiwis. The loss of Lou Vincent through injury was no doubt a big blow. But thewy still retain enough batting firepower in Taylor, Styris, Macmillan and Fleming - not to mention the late lower order in the shape of Oram, McCullum and Vettori. The bowling atatck consisting of Shane Bond, Mason, Martin, Gillespie and Vettori with Oram and Styris to back up looks the complete at least in this World Cup. And their fielding is electric. The only way they can lose is if the powerhouse of Hayden, Gilchrist, Ponting, Clarke and Symonds fire together - an unikely possibility given the quality of the New Zealand attack. Three cheers for New Zealand.

  • Masud Vorajee on March 31, 2007, 8:28 GMT

    South Africa!

    They are not arrogant like Australians, at the same time they are not cowards like our 2 sub-continental teams who bowed out of the world cup after losing to minnows.

    I've been cheering for Proteas since 1992 WC and I have NOT missed any single match so far.

    I am sure they will play the finals against the Black caps.

    Semi final 1 : Australia vs. New Zealand Semi final 2 : South Africa vs. Sri Lanka

    ;)

    Inshallah Proteas will win this time!

  • Parameshwaran G on March 31, 2007, 7:48 GMT

    Very nice post indeed. Watching indeed has become pleasurable after India's exit else today I would have been possibly been tense about our clash with the Australians ;-)

    And after all the postmortems about the WC format, exit of India and Pakistan apart from the sad demise of Bob Woolmer we are getting to see very good cricket.

    As cricket usually does, it has brought out the fighting characters of individuals. One needs not look more forward than Hayden, out of the team 6-8 months before the WC, he has come out like a storm demolishing South Africa in that fast-paced game and smashing the West Indians.

    Being an Asian, I am supporting the Sri Lankans. They should make it to the semifinals due to their very astute leader and combination of youth and experience.

    P.S:- Those who are watching the game in India, Have we not yet noticed that we have to cope up with less advertisements lately, to a lesser extent watch Dhoni's rise as a cricketer (7 up) and almost NONE of "OOh Aah India".

  • Gus on March 31, 2007, 7:27 GMT

    The Australians. All of the guys have had to work hard for their inclusion in this team. Although in terms of natural talent and individual genius we might be behind other teams, we make up for it with hard work and the occassional well timed sledge.

  • Gilles Tourette on March 31, 2007, 6:10 GMT

    As a sports fan, I find it impossible to be stop myself from backing one team or the other. Even if I'm watching two sides about whom I know nothing, (say a game of football between Azerbaijan and turkmenistan or suchlike), I'm sure I'll start supporting a team based on something as trivial as the colour of their jerseys.

    By the way, are you saying you didn't chew your nails, pace about the hall manically and instantly brand South Africa as 'chokers' during that Mailinga-inspired collapse? Well, I did.

    Hoping the BCCI gets its act together so that a similar debacle doesn't happen in 2011.

  • Ajay Joshi on March 31, 2007, 6:10 GMT

    I have made 2 choices; One a team which I would support when it takes the field ..the Srilankans, another a team which when fields I would support the opponents..the Aussies. I would truly like if the Aussies lose and I also think it will be better in general for the game of Cricket.

  • A Wimalasuriya on March 31, 2007, 5:01 GMT

    My money is for Sri lLanka. Santh Jayasuriya is the MAN to watch in the remaining games starting with West Indies. They are a well balance team of youngsters. I hope and pray God will bless our team.

  • akshaya on March 31, 2007, 4:53 GMT

    you are quite right.its fun to watch the worldcup without india.after all india is niether the best nation nor the only cricketing nation.i am supporting newzealand and to a lesser extent srilanka.i think both these teams have been very professional.they have played very intelligent cricket.if bond did not have so many injuries i think he would have been the greatest fast bowler of all time.the kiwis play as a team.despite so many injuries they have played some very good cricket.i think they will surely reach the semis.

  • KMHusain on March 30, 2007, 22:00 GMT

    Pakistan down and out...Go Sri Lanka!!!

  • Daniel Potla on March 30, 2007, 20:21 GMT

    I am unlucky..rather...go on read and come to your conclusions..I am in west indies..and supported with my presence including sound colour and flags..the indian team...they lost...followed by my support for srilanka..and they lost..then I went and supported local team..they promptly lost..now I want to support Australia..want to see if they lose! is it I or they team I support that is unlucky?

  • Aditya on March 30, 2007, 20:04 GMT

    Yes, I absolutely agree with Soumya. Cricket is a lot more fun to watch when India isn't playing it. Now I can just enjoy the sport for what it is!

    I am supporting Sri Lanka. They are an energetic and talented outfit, with a good blend of youth and experience. There are many hard strikers of the ball on the international stage, but no one is as delightful to watch as Jayasuriya. And of course Murali and his crazy antics (and not just with the ball!)

    The other team I am supporting is West Indies, although to be honest, they don't seem good enough to go all the way.

    In any case, I just hope Australia don't win. Those racist and haughty bast**** need a whipping!

  • ilanks77 on March 30, 2007, 19:34 GMT

    Sri Lanka, for it's my country of birth.

    However, NZ, SA and perhaps even England can make this a very ineteresting tournament. That of course is because Australia are on a different tier altogether. But wouldn't it be nice if one of the outsiders can cause a little upset. Mcgrath thinks no one can beat em' Aussies. I think I'll pick SL to stir their course in the super eights and perhaps SA to make good in a second attempt in either the semi's or the finals.

  • Amitabh Jotwani on March 30, 2007, 16:41 GMT

    I am betting my money on South Africa or New Zealand...actually even Srilanka would do it for me..in fact anybody but the Aussies would make me a happy camper..Go Ireland did anyone say?? :)

  • Amandeep on March 30, 2007, 16:23 GMT

    Any one but the RACIST ARROGANT Aussies really.I will support all 7 teams against them... But still if I have 2 give a preference order it would be: 1.England 2.Ireland 3.Bangladesh 4.Newzeland 5.Srilanka 6.South Africa 7.West Indies

    But please ANYONE BUT THE AUSSIE TEAM

  • sanjana on March 30, 2007, 16:14 GMT

    New Zealand. Here's ten reasons why: 1. A genuine quick should be a part of the WC winning squad in the Caribbean - the name's Bond...Shane Bond. 2. The defining image of every World Cup (when Jonty's not prancing around) is the captain lifting the trophy - Fleming deserves it. Let a booming voice echo at the finals, the chewing-gummed blabber can wait. Let it be a victory for tactical brilliance and evolved leadership. 3. JO - Big man - better all-rounder. 4. Let a team with a consistent assembly line of fine wicket keepers win. Germon, Parore, Mc Cullum ...5. Almost on crutches after the spate of injuries - they should be winning for the sheer grit involved in carrying on...(anatomist's absolute delight, there's no letup in fielding standards). 6. Stuck with terms like Dibbly-dobbly and dark-horses for years, here's a team that Deserves to go all the way. 7. Dan Vettori - how a classical left-arm spinner came up in New Zealand's a surprise...some encouragement this would be. 7. The legacy - Martin Crowe, Hadlee, even Cairns and that ultimate finisher Chris Harris 8. Very girly and frivolous, but they are the best-dressed 9. Australians SQUIRM wheile facing them....they really do. 10. I like them - and with the rugby world cup coming on later, with the All Blacks hoping to clinch it this time, this will be a fine double :) Cheers New Zealand. Go Flemingo !

  • Varun on March 30, 2007, 15:18 GMT

    My team is Srilanka.They will make through till the end.The expected final match, to me , seems to be Srilanka v/s Australia. I think only Srilanka can defeat Australia currently.Simply because they are ready for all situation. They have the set of Utility players in their team who will call their shots.

    Australian may turn complacent on attemt to grap the world cup thrid time in a row and it is this which makes Srilanka an appropriate outfit to undo them.

    Varun

  • sarmadR on March 30, 2007, 14:16 GMT

    true...it s like the football world cup...no pakistan...good games...support who u will...then turn against the team that lost...Unadulterated SPORT! i'm up for srilanka! let 'em go all the way to the finals...and maybe even win 'em... but then again...Pollock et al, deserve a world cup....and so maybe do new zealand..may the best team win

  • jan on March 30, 2007, 14:11 GMT

    My team Pakistan is out so i will be supporting Bangladesh and Srilanka.

  • faisal on March 30, 2007, 13:49 GMT

    Must be Srilanka for their spirit and team ethics Aussies not for the third time (simple reason) SA, Some how or the other they mess-up things at crucial times NZ,A strong bowling attack i-e AUS, SA will test the reolute of their middle order which so far is wining matches for them. Eng, they will surprise lots of people as one of the finalists (can bet on it) WI, not consistent enough to make it to the final

  • Sri Lanka All the way on March 30, 2007, 13:47 GMT

    Yup, I have chosen my team...... The only team in history to have a bowler with a single "double hat trick" (apparently 4 wkts in 4 balls is referred to as a double hat trick) - SRI LANKA.

    Now that welost to South Africa, we can gather ourselves and beat four of the remaining five teams we have to play, and then we can have a great world cup.....

  • Anthony on March 30, 2007, 13:36 GMT

    Thanks lux...is great to see Indian fans behind Sri Lanka....we could use the Blue Billion's brotherhood this World Cup..

    Hopefully we can bring it home for the sub-continent...the fans deserve/demand it..:)

  • Adrian on March 30, 2007, 13:25 GMT

    Its indeed comforting and good for health ( needless to say the enviornment is free of bad language) when ones country is not involved and more so the outcome doesnt really hit at you.

    Basically having India and Pakistan out of the current edition, is good for the game. Both were not 100% geared for success and it is the blind vision of billions that hope was built as to perceived success. Not that Ireland were well prepared, but definitley the Bangaldeshis haev worked hard at their ODI game, and personally I expected something to go awafully wrong in the group of Death and so it happend.

    Like in football, or rugby where no asian involvement (thank god for that if not there will be cricket scores at the end) watching a game for its pure enjoyment actually make one realize the beauty of the sport, as you have mentioned a team like Argentina ( though not good losers i must add) can be backed for giving a desired enjoyment. Even in rugby, the all blacks, the Boks, and even the Irish are great to watch.

    So to pick a team to support, being Sri Lankan, its easy and hope the boys go the whole nine yards. If not its easy to be swayed with the Aussies and the South Africa, but if one is to see the game of cricket been the ultimate winner, then my monies would be on the Black Caps, they deserve to have share of the limelight

  • lux on March 30, 2007, 13:02 GMT

    sri lanka.

    should be ordinary - a 20+ year civil war, a terrible domestic competition, a tiny selection pool, dodgy politics - yet they are clinical, innovative and occasionally ecstatic. Malinga, Silva, Dilshan and Tharanga give them a childish playfulness they haven't had since Kaluwitharana. it's nice.

    the lone feel-good factor in world cricket at the moment (though the insistence of the multiracial experiment going on in south africa deserves a special mention). ironic, as it seems the war is ready to explode on to the world news again.

  • Ramesh on March 30, 2007, 12:57 GMT

    Well, I support South Africa to win the world cup! They should be appreciated for the efforts they put in the past 4 years once they were knocked out of the rain-affected match against SriLankans due to miscalculations! Smith has been appointed as the captain & since then, this team has played some terrific cricket, out of which the 434 Runs chase against the Aussies stood out.

    Go SouthAfrica Go..You deserve to life the tropy this time around! All the best....

  • Sameer Deshpande on March 30, 2007, 12:56 GMT

    I am currently in Dublin Ireland and the atmosphere here has changed dramatically. I was saying to my Collegues that I will support Ireland in the first round and when they go out and India goes in super eights, i will support India. But i am left with supporting Ireland. The transformation in the media here is just too good. Suddently every radio station is explaining to listners what is a LBW, what is a Yorker, silly point and slip and so on. Yesterday i saw three kids playing cricket in a open ground near my home. Three Cheers for Ireland.

  • Varinder on March 30, 2007, 12:50 GMT

    Your article made me smile. After India had made an early exit, life has become much more enjoyable and speculation free. I too am able to enjoy good cricket now. I agree with you that watching a game being totally neutral could not be enjoyed at its fullest. Underdogs invariably get more support from neutral spectators. In this world cup, I will put my money on Australia to win the cup but my loyalties will be with Sri-lankans as I feel that apart from power game this team provides aesthetics to the eyes.

  • Kausihan Selvam on March 30, 2007, 12:49 GMT

    How bout Ireland. I like the supporters of Ireland. thats the best lot of all. so i support the Irish supporters

  • R Dravid on March 30, 2007, 12:39 GMT

    Good that you raised this question. I am one of them who enjoy the game without supporting one of the competitors. I am always sneered at by my friends/ relatives when I sit late night to watch matches in Africa/ West Indies or wake up early to watch matches in Australia/ NZ, when no India plays. This is not just for Cricket - my behavior extends to other sports too.

    The thrill of watching a sport without actually supporting a specific competitor is a very interesting thought. There is an almost voyeuristic streak to it - you enjoy the game, its technical details, and all that the players do dispassionately. Some would call it "you have nothing to lose or gain". I see patterns in Rudi Koertzen's LBW decisions (when in doubt with the leg stump, give the benefit of doubt to the batsman - he is not that conservativw with the off stump or height) in contrast with Billy Bowden's (he needs to be absolutely sure that the ball would have hit the inner side of the stumps, otherwise, he would avoid eye-contact with the appealing bowlers!). I wouldn't have been able to observe these if India were playing - I would possibly have an opinion on the decision, rather than the umpiring styles!

    I saw leadership lessons in Tatenda Taibu's captaincy; karma yoga in Shaun Pollock's choice of concentrating on his bowling after the 2003 WC debacle; the role of religion in binding the Pak team; the innocent gay abandon of the Dutch cricketers; and so on and on ...

    But this world cup, I have a definite favorite and I will stay up through both innings to watch the Kiwis reach the finals, Insha Allah!

  • Hesh on March 30, 2007, 12:36 GMT

    I am supporting South Africa. They are an awesome team with real fire power. I am still not sure as to why their bowling is not upto the mark. I am sure they are going to run-over the aussies in the finals. Oh! Yeah.. i presumed these two are going to reach the final.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Hesh on March 30, 2007, 12:36 GMT

    I am supporting South Africa. They are an awesome team with real fire power. I am still not sure as to why their bowling is not upto the mark. I am sure they are going to run-over the aussies in the finals. Oh! Yeah.. i presumed these two are going to reach the final.

  • R Dravid on March 30, 2007, 12:39 GMT

    Good that you raised this question. I am one of them who enjoy the game without supporting one of the competitors. I am always sneered at by my friends/ relatives when I sit late night to watch matches in Africa/ West Indies or wake up early to watch matches in Australia/ NZ, when no India plays. This is not just for Cricket - my behavior extends to other sports too.

    The thrill of watching a sport without actually supporting a specific competitor is a very interesting thought. There is an almost voyeuristic streak to it - you enjoy the game, its technical details, and all that the players do dispassionately. Some would call it "you have nothing to lose or gain". I see patterns in Rudi Koertzen's LBW decisions (when in doubt with the leg stump, give the benefit of doubt to the batsman - he is not that conservativw with the off stump or height) in contrast with Billy Bowden's (he needs to be absolutely sure that the ball would have hit the inner side of the stumps, otherwise, he would avoid eye-contact with the appealing bowlers!). I wouldn't have been able to observe these if India were playing - I would possibly have an opinion on the decision, rather than the umpiring styles!

    I saw leadership lessons in Tatenda Taibu's captaincy; karma yoga in Shaun Pollock's choice of concentrating on his bowling after the 2003 WC debacle; the role of religion in binding the Pak team; the innocent gay abandon of the Dutch cricketers; and so on and on ...

    But this world cup, I have a definite favorite and I will stay up through both innings to watch the Kiwis reach the finals, Insha Allah!

  • Kausihan Selvam on March 30, 2007, 12:49 GMT

    How bout Ireland. I like the supporters of Ireland. thats the best lot of all. so i support the Irish supporters

  • Varinder on March 30, 2007, 12:50 GMT

    Your article made me smile. After India had made an early exit, life has become much more enjoyable and speculation free. I too am able to enjoy good cricket now. I agree with you that watching a game being totally neutral could not be enjoyed at its fullest. Underdogs invariably get more support from neutral spectators. In this world cup, I will put my money on Australia to win the cup but my loyalties will be with Sri-lankans as I feel that apart from power game this team provides aesthetics to the eyes.

  • Sameer Deshpande on March 30, 2007, 12:56 GMT

    I am currently in Dublin Ireland and the atmosphere here has changed dramatically. I was saying to my Collegues that I will support Ireland in the first round and when they go out and India goes in super eights, i will support India. But i am left with supporting Ireland. The transformation in the media here is just too good. Suddently every radio station is explaining to listners what is a LBW, what is a Yorker, silly point and slip and so on. Yesterday i saw three kids playing cricket in a open ground near my home. Three Cheers for Ireland.

  • Ramesh on March 30, 2007, 12:57 GMT

    Well, I support South Africa to win the world cup! They should be appreciated for the efforts they put in the past 4 years once they were knocked out of the rain-affected match against SriLankans due to miscalculations! Smith has been appointed as the captain & since then, this team has played some terrific cricket, out of which the 434 Runs chase against the Aussies stood out.

    Go SouthAfrica Go..You deserve to life the tropy this time around! All the best....

  • lux on March 30, 2007, 13:02 GMT

    sri lanka.

    should be ordinary - a 20+ year civil war, a terrible domestic competition, a tiny selection pool, dodgy politics - yet they are clinical, innovative and occasionally ecstatic. Malinga, Silva, Dilshan and Tharanga give them a childish playfulness they haven't had since Kaluwitharana. it's nice.

    the lone feel-good factor in world cricket at the moment (though the insistence of the multiracial experiment going on in south africa deserves a special mention). ironic, as it seems the war is ready to explode on to the world news again.

  • Adrian on March 30, 2007, 13:25 GMT

    Its indeed comforting and good for health ( needless to say the enviornment is free of bad language) when ones country is not involved and more so the outcome doesnt really hit at you.

    Basically having India and Pakistan out of the current edition, is good for the game. Both were not 100% geared for success and it is the blind vision of billions that hope was built as to perceived success. Not that Ireland were well prepared, but definitley the Bangaldeshis haev worked hard at their ODI game, and personally I expected something to go awafully wrong in the group of Death and so it happend.

    Like in football, or rugby where no asian involvement (thank god for that if not there will be cricket scores at the end) watching a game for its pure enjoyment actually make one realize the beauty of the sport, as you have mentioned a team like Argentina ( though not good losers i must add) can be backed for giving a desired enjoyment. Even in rugby, the all blacks, the Boks, and even the Irish are great to watch.

    So to pick a team to support, being Sri Lankan, its easy and hope the boys go the whole nine yards. If not its easy to be swayed with the Aussies and the South Africa, but if one is to see the game of cricket been the ultimate winner, then my monies would be on the Black Caps, they deserve to have share of the limelight

  • Anthony on March 30, 2007, 13:36 GMT

    Thanks lux...is great to see Indian fans behind Sri Lanka....we could use the Blue Billion's brotherhood this World Cup..

    Hopefully we can bring it home for the sub-continent...the fans deserve/demand it..:)

  • Sri Lanka All the way on March 30, 2007, 13:47 GMT

    Yup, I have chosen my team...... The only team in history to have a bowler with a single "double hat trick" (apparently 4 wkts in 4 balls is referred to as a double hat trick) - SRI LANKA.

    Now that welost to South Africa, we can gather ourselves and beat four of the remaining five teams we have to play, and then we can have a great world cup.....