Prelude to the World Cup preview
FOLLOW ANDY ZALTZMAN AS HE COVERS THE WORLD CUP, HERE: ON THE ROAD WITH ZALTZMAN
Hello Confectionery Stallers, and welcome to my first ever non-UK-written blog. I am currently in Dubai, on my way to Bangladesh, gazing out over the world’s most ludicrous skyline (well, gazing at a pair of beige curtains, behind which is a brick wall, from the top of which I might be able to gaze out over the world’s most ludicrous skyline).
This is the most open World Cup of the millennium so far, since Herschelle Gibbs unwittingly not only dropped the 1999 World Cup when he shelled Steve Waugh, but the 2003 and 2007 tournaments as well, by boosting Australian confidence so much that they became almost scientifically unbeatable.
The final stages promise to be riveting – seven winner-takes-all shoot-outs, when all the months of preparation could be shattered with one twitch of Billy Bowden’s trigger finger, one extra rotation of a captain’s lucky coin, or Shahid Afridi putting his head on correctly in the morning. The group stage may be less scintillating. In fact, it will certainly be less scintillating. On the minus side, it is significantly and obviously much too long. On the plus side, I’ll get to see more of Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka than I would have done had the schedule been a little less distended. The early weeks of the tournament may also reveal something of where cricket is heading as a sport: how can the 50-over game and international cricket compete with Twenty20 and the financial behemoth that is the IPL?
I will kicking off my World Cup blog, On the Road with Zaltzman, with the official tournament preview on Friday, including full and irrefutable proof of who will win, and why. And when. In fact, I’ll predict the “when” bit right now. I confidently forecast that victory will be secured at some point on April 2, probably in the evening. And I also predict, with equal confidence, that the winning team will stand around in a circle, with their arms around each other’s shoulders and bounce up and down. The circular bounce has now become the default sporting victory celebration, other than in individual sports, although I am sure all sports fans would love to see a golfer sink a putt on the 18th green to clinch a triumph, then put his arms around his own shoulders and pogo up and down for a couple of minutes before dousing himself in champagne and trying to lift himself onto his own shoulders.
I will then be posting daily pieces for throughout the tournament – mostly blogs, plus occasional podcasts – and will also be doing a Twitter feed from the games and from my travels around the subcontinent, which you can follow at @ZaltzCricket.
I will also unleash a World Cup MultiStat, plus photos, and possibly even the odd video here and there, if I can work out how to use a video camera and edit rudimentary video footage without making people’s eyes hurt. (My inexperience is not necessarily an insurmountable problem. Quentin Tarantino’s first forays into film-making were his home movies from the 1956-57 South Africa v England Test series. That is a lie. But it would nonetheless be interesting to see his take on one of the slowest-scoring series of all time, starring Samuel L Jackson as Colin Cowdrey and Uma Thurman as nagging South African offspinner Hugh Tayfield).
And there will be a regular Q&A, for which you will be able to submit questions, which I will (a) attempt to answer, (b) dodge, or (c) wilfully misinterpret. Full details of this will follow on the website.
Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer