Matches (10)
MLC (2)
ENG v WI (1)
WCL 2 (1)
Asia Cup (4)
LPL (1)
BAN-A vs PAK-A (1)
The Briefing

Look ma, it's the Super Eight!

Two intrepid correspondents team up to run the rule over the teams that sailed and scraped through the group stage of the World Cup

Saurabh Netravalkar and Suryakumar Yadav catch up before the game, USA vs India, T20 World Cup 2024, New York, June 12, 2024

It is rumoured Saurabh Netravalkar, that unbearably multi-skilled renaissance man, challenged Suryakumar Yadav to a ukulele-playing contest, which the latter cravenly declined  •  ICC/Getty Images

USA

First-round report card: Smashed Canada to open the tournament, played like the more experienced international team against relative giants Pakistan in the Super Over of their next match. Didn't completely fall apart against powerhouse India.
Hard to think of how USA could have done any better, particularly after an extreme-weather event helped them avoid playing a potential banana-skin game against Ireland. (winks at fossil fuel companies)
Highlight: After completing the biggest win in their cricket history, their captain came out and said they should have never let it get so close and go to a Super Over. Ice cold.
Explaining team USA to new American cricket fans: Part of the inscription on the plaque of the Statue of Liberty reads: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." This team is more like: "Give me your cricketers who didn't quite make it professionally in their home countries, and also tend to work regular jobs in the US."
Growing-the-game rating: A+
Saurabh Netravalkar, the left-arm-bowling, ukelele-playing, tech-company engineering dreamboat has arguably been the story of the World Cup so far. New York-born Aaron Jones has rocked it too. There was even some coverage in major US publications after their big win over Pakistan. Now give us more. (cracks ICC-branded whip)

Australia

First-round report card: It's not a proper World Cup until Australia have turned up to it. They provided glimpses of their woke, do-gooder alter egos when giving both Oman and Scotland a sniff, while mostly playing to classic Aussie mongrel type to record a crushing four wins from four.
Highlight: Josh Hazlewood openly pondering whether Australia might try to give Scotland a leg up with their net run rate, thereby rigging an early exit for England - which caused several spirit-of-cricket fairies to die on the spot.
Explaining team Australia to new American cricket fans: Like a Humvee parachuting out of a helicopter to land in the middle of a freeway and roar off into the distance, Springsteen blaring out of the speakers.
Growing-the-game rating: C-
Australia has good cross-cultural links with the US. Think Nicole Kidman, Chris Hemsworth, or Mel Gibson. (Maybe not the latter, if you can avoid it.) So it wouldn't hurt for brand recognition. Particularly when all their fading greats sign up to play MLC.

South Africa

First-round report card: First rounds are generally not a problem for South Africa, and so it proved again. They crushed Sri Lanka, breezed past Netherlands, and won close matches against Bangladesh and Nepal.
Highlight: Heinrich Klaasen picking up a deflection off the back of Nepal's Gulsan Jha's pads (wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock's throw towards the non-striker's end had hit the batter as he was attempting a match-tying bye off the last ball) and then running him out, to avoid going into a Super Over against Nepal.
There are two ways to view this. Either this is simply a more experienced team being calm and clinical in a crucial match situation. Or by having that deflection come their way, South Africa have exhausted 100% of their luck for this World Cup. Eeek.
Explaining team South Africa to new American cricket fans: Bang like Kanye's music at the start of global tournaments. Trash like Kanye's personality in the high-pressure games.
Growing-the-game rating: C
They've played another African nation just once in T20Is in the last five years, and that was Zimbabwe at the last World Cup. This kind of behaviour is not completely out of character for a major cricketing nation, but it's also not amazing.

India

First-round report card: India's first rounds are all about whether they beat Pakistan again. Despite looking like they were in trouble for parts of that match, they just let Pakistan run themselves into the ground eventually. They casually dominated their other two games. And the India cricket economy has been delivered safely into the lap of the Super Eight. Phew.
Highlight: Tournament after tournament, Jasprit Bumrah bowls some spectacularly unplayable deliveries. His ball to get rid of Babar Azam was a new addition to the canon.
Explaining team India to new American cricket fans: They are like the USA of cricket, in the sense that they see themselves as the centre of the world. Or maybe even the galaxy. In fact, what is the point of a universe in which India is not the supermassive black hole into which the entirety of existence collapses? IN-DI-A, IN-DI-A, IN-DI-A!
Growing-the-game rating: A
All the money cricket makes from India's World Cup appearances will trickle down to the rest of the cricket world, right?
… it'll definitely trickle down, right?
Guys?

West Indies

First-round report card: The co-hosts avoided triggering 1000 comment pieces lamenting the continued decline of West Indies cricket by squeaking past PNG in their opening match, took things up a notch when obliterating Uganda, and then played rope-a-dope to end New Zealand's run of reaching the business end of ICC tournaments. Eerily smooth sailing, given they also avoided being ambushed by Afghanistan.
Highlight: The last-wicket partnership of 37 from 13 deliveries against New Zealand, during which Sherfane Rutherford faced every ball but one and scored all the runs. New Zealand's nice-guys-finish-in-the-final-four act never recovered.
Explaining team West Indies to new American fans: The smashiest of all the teams, West Indian cricket is one of the region's prime means of taking a colonial pastime by the blazer and shaking it loose.
Growing-the-game rating: B+
Becoming the first team to lift the ICC's T20 title on home soil would be a powerful boost, and surely help prevent all those cricket-loving Caribbean kids leaving to take up basketball in the US (are we ever going to fact check this? - Ed).

England

First-round report card: A bewildering mix of front-foot posturing, meek capitulation, anxiety-ridden self-analysis and clinical get-the-job-done smarts. Not for the first time, England had rings runs around them by peoples they had formerly oppressed. Scotland arguably had the better of a rain-ruined encounter, before England were left on their knees by Australia. They then stayed in that position in order to ask for a favour in the group's final game, having done the needful against Oman and Namibia.
Highlight: Not seeing their all-conquering generation of white-ball titans suffer another long, slow, embarrassing shambles of a World Cup defence (like they did in 2023). At least not yet, anyway.
Explaining team England to new American cricket fans: Imagine your snooty rich friend forcing their way onto your property to try to teach you all about their favourite parlour game and then you decide to get really, really good at it and whup the snooty rich friend's ass instead.
Growing-the-game rating: D+
English attempts to expand cricket's horizons were feeble even when they had a monopoly, and they certainly couldn't get Americans interested. Might briefly salve the nation's wounds when England's football team crashes out of the Euros, though.

Afghanistan

First-round report: Crushed Uganda, blew past Papua New Guinea, and vitally, didn't even give New Zealand a chance in that crucial match. It's increasingly feeling like beating Afghanistan in a World Cup is the real upset.
Highlight: Rashid Khan and Fazalhaq Farooqi twinning with figures of 4 for 17 in the match against New Zealand. Many of those wicket balls were dream deliveries.
Explaining team Afghanistan to new American cricket fans: Remember the war in Afghanistan? Well, that indirectly spurred a cricket revolution, when many Afghans fleeing the violence picked up the game in neighbouring Pakistan. Remember when the USA withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, and the Taliban almost immediately took over? Yeah… so…. this is why they don't have a women's team.
Growing-the-game rating: D
Well, they would have to grow the game beyond a single gender in their own country first. Let's keep the bar low on this one.

Bangladesh

First-round report card: Made it out of a tough group by overcoming chief playground rivals Sri Lanka in a low-scoring scrap behind the bike sheds. Should have beaten South Africa, too, but tripped up against Keshav Maharaj's crafty full tosses with the finishing line in sight. They also showed familiar signs of fallibility against Netherlands and Nepal.
But none of that matters because they beat Sri Lanka. Hey did you hear, Sri Lanka didn't even make the Super Eights hahahahaha
Highlight: We beat Sri Lanka, didn't you hear the first time??
Explaining team Bangladesh to new American cricket fans: Lovable, if slightly baffling, regular character, who always seems to end up being dispatched in a horrifyingly gory manner. Kenny from South Park, basically.
Growing-the-game rating: A-
Bangladeshis could hardly be more into their cricket, and every step forward is to be welcomed. Going all the way here would probably draw comparisons to Sri Lanka's World Cup win in 1996, without being anywhere near as good, obviously.*
*This column is co-written by a Sri Lankan

Andrew Fidel Fernando is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo. Alan Gardner is a deputy editor