February 18, 2011

World Cup 2011

The sizzle of anticipation

Andy Zaltzman
Bryan Adams turns the clock back at the World Cup opening ceremony, Dhaka, February 17, 2011
Bryan Adams gets to the crux of his audio-enhanced presentation on how to nurdle the ball just far enough for a single  © Getty Images


I arrived in Dhaka on Thursday evening, to scenes of understandably wild jubilation. People thronged the streets, horns were honked at my taxi as it weaved through the traffic, the route from the airport was festooned with flashing lights, joyous rickshaws laden with cheering cricket fans sped past. All for the humble author of a humble cricket blog. This place must really love cricket.

It has been suggested by other members of the ESPNcricinfo team that, given that my arrival coincided with the opening ceremony, some of the festivities might not have been exclusively in my honour. Some even went so far as to suggest that street-thronging and horn-honking are by no means unusual events in this buzzingly excited city. I will let others be the judge of that. Suffice it to say that, as I recall, there was not quite the same sizzle of anticipation when England hosted the 1999 tournament. There was barely even a fizzle of anticipation. There seems little chance of the World Cup slipping under the public radar this time.

Little could be read into the team captains’ opening ceremony rickshaw ride in terms of predicting how the tournament will progress. Strauss was giving little away about the likely make-up of the England XI for their opening game with the Dutch in Nagpur as he sat in his rickshaw, waving at the crowd, whilst Shahid Afridi seemed unperturbed by the recent turbulence in his nation’s cricket as he sat in his rickshaw, waving at the crowd. Mahendra Singh Dhoni sat in his rickshaw, waving at the crowd with quiet confidence, whilst Ricky Ponting sat in his rickshaw, waving at the crowd as if he had fully recovered from the devastating psychological sledgehammer blow of losing Nathan Hauritz to injury. It’s all very tactically cagey at this stage.

(I missed seeing the opening ceremony as I was in transit at the time, although it must have been disappointing for all those watching live and on TV that, due to a confusion in the booking process, Bryan Adams performed some of his classic rock hits. It was supposed to have been Jimmy Adams, delivering a Powerpoint lecture about how to nudge the ball to deep square-leg for a single.)

Today I will have my first experience of watching cricket outside England, as Strauss and Afridi lead their teams in a final warm-up in Fatullah. I imagine the atmosphere might not be quite as febrile as it will be in the Shere Bangla Stadium on Saturday, but I am almost childishly excited about it anyway.

Having overestimated my ability to write a tournament preview whilst on an aeroplane, my tournament preview will now appear late on Friday or early on Saturday, depending on where you are in the world. And when I finish it.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

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Posted by Anonymous on (March 13, 2011, 17:32 GMT)

this is is really stupit z man why u have not written about some sloppy bowling of indian bowlers and their fielding.i think you r getting a lot of money from indian channels to admiring some stupid batting

Posted by ravi on (March 9, 2011, 7:03 GMT)

u beuty andy.. u've done it once more... very interesting throughout... enzoyed every bit ofit.. seek some frequent blogs...

Posted by Aneek on (February 19, 2011, 3:38 GMT)

I am sure, it would be an experience for you. Knowing the Bangladeshi cricket lovers, (me being one of them), you will see a partisan crowd shouting for their own team but also appreciating good cricket from the opposition. The Mirpur stadia makes and wonderful environment for all the fans of cricket.

Posted by Anglophile on (February 19, 2011, 3:34 GMT)


Posted by Paddy on (February 18, 2011, 19:35 GMT)

Great article andy. Keep it going.

Posted by Googlie on (February 18, 2011, 18:45 GMT)

Welcome to Bangladesh Andy! Enjoyed your writing a lot during Ashes; seeing you in Dhaka adds some extra spice into already spiced up world cup. Enjoy your staying in subcontinent.

Posted by Reddy on (February 18, 2011, 18:07 GMT)

What, wont there be a Bugle/7daySunday podcast this week, Zaltzman? Stupid world cup. Go back to inspiring revolutions and breaking world records for dog puns! The world needs you, the world cup can wait.

- Reddy

Posted by Faisal Mahmud on (February 18, 2011, 17:58 GMT)


I am a big fan of your writing. I am a journalist of 'The Independent', a national daily. Is it possible to get an interview of you. If it is possible then plz give me a reply at my maiil.


Posted by jim jim on (February 18, 2011, 17:33 GMT)

From what I have seen the opening ceremony was spot on, may the cricket match it.

Posted by Omar Nizam on (February 18, 2011, 17:27 GMT)

Lovely article Andy! I'm sorry you had to miss the opening ceremony, as it was (if I do say so myself) amazingly done and exceeded all of our expectations. We like to think that we are the most hospitable nation towards foreign visitors. So with that in mind, I sincerely hope you have a wonderful stay in Dhaka. We look forward to reading many more witty articles from you during the course of the tournament! :-)

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Andy Zaltzman
Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on Cricinfo.

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