It's been said that one of the potential benefits of the low expectations surrounding England's World Cup bid is that they might be able to fly under the radar. This raises an important question: what kind of radar can't detect England?
There are only ten Test-playing nations. Of those, surely only eight have even an outside chance of winning the World Cup. England might well be towards the bottom of that eight, but radar that can only detect seven different threats is none too impressive.
England really shouldn't be too hard to detect either. It was after all the British who brought the sport to the world. If you can't pick up England, who can you pick up? Will India also saunter in unspotted? Will even the host nations sidestep attention? Actually, New Zealand conceivably could. A number of people don't seem to have noticed that a number of matches will be taking place outside Australia.
And England are a noisy lot, so this radar clearly doesn't detect column inches. Or perhaps it has incorrectly grouped Kevin Pietersen and England together as the same entity, concluding that neither is participating in the tournament.
Without wishing to sound like the BCCI, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that this technology is completely unreliable. If any international coaches are currently peering at a radar screen, monitoring the beeps, the sweeps and the creeps to see what they might be up against early next year, I will now suggest some perfectly valid alternative approaches. Not only will they pick up everything the radar does, they'll pick up more.
So if you want to identify all of your potential challengers come the World Cup, simply make use of any one of the following three things: eyes, brain, fixture list.
Use your eyes whenever you visit ESPNcricinfo, read a newspaper or watch TV. Journalists have already correctly identified all the major challengers for the World Cup without having to resort to radar. Quite possibly they made use of their brains, the fixture list, or both.
If you too opt to consult your brain, it will doubtless throw up a list of cricketing nations based on previous World Cups. It's important to remember that this list is still relevant. Despite some recent rumours to the contrary, all of these nations still play cricket. In fact, cricket being cricket, the major contenders will be the same in 2092 as they were in 1992. The only thing that could possibly alter this would be some sort of war that resulted in the redrawing of national boundaries. Fingers crossed this shouldn't happen in the next two months.
The final option I have given you, Mr International Cricket Coach, is to check the fixture list. Whoever you're playing - whether it's England, South Africa, Pakistan or Scotland - that is someone who could conceivably beat you. In fact, no matter what the radar says, the list of teams you're playing represents a fairly comprehensive guide as to who you should keep your eye on.
Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket