Sunday, April 15, 2007

Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka Reach World Cup Semis; Thumbs Up For FOX

With a week to go in the Super-Eights stage of cricket's World Cup, Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka have already clinched three of the four semifinal spots.

South Africa and England have the best chances of claiming the fourth semifinal berth, and their match Tuesday in Barbados may prove decisive.

A win Tuesday by England would keep both teams alive as well as the West Indies and possibly also Bangladesh, setting up interesting possibilities for later in the week. But if South Africa win in Barbados then the final four would be set, the remaining Super-Eight matches would be virtually meaningless, and the hosts would be left with no chance to advance in the tournament, guaranteeing the West Indian organizers less-than-expected revenues to go along with their greater-than-expected expenses.

But this would be no surprise; it would be in keeping with a tournament which saw two of the world's top teams, Pakistan and India, shut out of the final eight, a pair of failures which could well be called "tragic" if they were not overshadowed by the strangulation of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer [photo] amid whispers of possible match-fixing.

Surprisingly, perhaps, some of the world's best neutral (non-specialized) coverage of this very slow and drawn-out sporting event may be coming from FOX Sports.

Their coverage is accurate and timely; their pages of standings and schedules are easy to read and easy to verify. Those who mostly follow sports, and who find much to appreciate in FOX coverage, may have trouble grasping just how much -- and how blatantly -- FOX lies about the news.

A more cynical writer may venture to suggest that this is all part of an elaborate deception. But not me; I'm busy watching Bangladesh and Ireland fight it out for 8th place at CricInfo.

Why? The French educator Jaques Barzun was probably right when he said, "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball." He could well have added, "Whoever wants to understand the rest of the English-speaking world had better learn cricket!"