I don’t like cricket, I love it

The ICC Cricket World Cup is nearing its conclusion and with only four teams left, Kevin Beirne discusses the quarter finals and what we can expect from the semis This year’s Cricket World Cup has been a memorable one. The celebration of the sport that is associated with the adjective ‘dull’ more than any other has given us some real surprises. Ireland’s record run-chase against England lessened the country’s apathy towards the Irish team. The tournament itself has been exciting. Ireland’s victory threw a sense of uncertainty into the qualification mix, and almost every game that featured England went down to the wire. Unfortunately, there were no real surprises in who was contesting the quarter finals last week.First off, there was Pakistan’s ten-wicket drubbing of a West Indies team that is a shadow of its former self. The ‘Windies’ could only manage a dismal total of 112 from 43.3 overs before losing their last batsman.The West Indies were frustratingly inconsistent throughout the tournament. They followed a demolition of Bangladesh (where they only allowed 58 runs) by going all-out for 225 against England (having been 222-6) two weeks later.Co-hosts India knocked out defending champions Australia. Captain Ricky Ponting’s 104 was not enough to see off an Indian team which had the enormous backing of their home supporters. A passionate Indian side enjoyed three players achieving half-centuries, with Yuvraj Singh top-scoring with 57 not out off 65 balls.This loss ended Australia’s awesome run of three consecutive World Cup victories. India will now be heavily backed to push on and win the tournament, with this victory giving them the confidence they need to match their skills and the backing of the crowd. This sets up what promises to be an interesting tie against rivals Pakistan in the semi-finals tomorrow.In Friday’s game, South Africa collapsed spectacularly against New Zealand, having been sitting pretty at 108-2 after 24 overs. The target of 221, set earlier in the day by a conservative Kiwi team, seemed more than achievable. It wasn’t until Jacques Kallis was caught out for ten balls that things began to change.Despite having seven wickets, and almost half the overs remaining, South Africa panicked. They eventually found themselves all-out for a lowly 172. The African giants will be disappointed that they failed to learn from the errors of previous years.England betrayed their earlier appearances in the tournament and provided an unexciting game against Sri Lanka on Saturday. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga both hit centuries as they bettered England’s total of 229-6 without losing a single wicket and using only 39.3 overs.This was the fourth ten-wicket victory of the tournament, but only the eleventh in World Cup history. England must now realise their inadequacies if they wish to move forward, but Sri Lanka will be confident they can overcome New Zealand today and land themselves a final berth.The bookies are heavily backing the host nations to contest the final, but, given how the tournament has gone so far, wins for New Zealand and Pakistan shouldn’t be ruled out. The semi-finals look set to be close and exciting affairs and one can only feel that there’s much more to come.