Unless England make the semi-finals – which I don’t think is quite as unlikely as you do – I won’t be watching any World Cup matches the whole way through. They’re on during the hours I normally sleep and the CWC isn’t interesting enough to stay up all night for.
I have been a full member of MCC for nearly three decades now and from our point of view, the World Cup was that inconvenient thing which immediately followed the Ashes Down Under, so no-one was in the mood. That we’ve then been pretty useless has only served to bolster my indifference. I’ll do the night shift for the Ashes – which is the only Test series England play which doesn’t allow 3-4 hours sleep at one end of the day – and I’ve loved T20 since its inception, but I’ve never been a great enthusiast for the one-day format. If a T20 gets one-sided, at least it’s over pretty quickly, but a one-sided ODI is just awful.
I couldn’t go in 1975, since I was doing my A-levels. It was a novelty back then, and nobody had the first idea how it was going to go. Teams struggled to make 200 in 60 overs, partly because of the English conditions making swing bowling lethal, and Gary Gilmour became a superstar. I thought it was quite fun, even if it obviously wasn’t real cricket. I wasn’t as sniffy as the pompous Indians, who considered the whole thing childishly frivolous, an attitude they took to ludicrous extremes when they played England in the 1979 event and Gavaskar batted for a draw.
By 1979, though, most other teams had worked out that it wasn’t Test cricket played a bit quicker, so we started to see some tactics. Not that I could have gone: I was doing my degree finals.
Over the next four years I became a regular cricket-goer, but I still didn’t go to any World Cup games in 1983. Why on earth would I go and watch that nonsense when I could go and watch Yorkshire or Middlesex playing serious cricket?
As for this time, for a start, I’ll be asleep through most of it. I’m also hoping that England won’t be as embarrassing as usual. For the first time in 23 years, we have a chance of winning. I haven’t gone completely off my head.
On their days, Morgan and Buttler are as devastating as anyone else you can name. Anderson and Finn have been reminding India that they can be damn good one day bowlers in this tri-series. Apart from James Taylor, all the others have produced at least the odd impressive 100 or five-wicket haul.
We’ll need to face South Africa on the day of their ritual choke. A couple of fragile Australians have to break down mid-match. McCullum and Corey Anderson both have to hole out first ball. And so on. But stranger things .. After all, India beat the invincible West Indies in 1983 by catching them on a bad day and playing out of their skins themselves.
At least for the next four or five weeks, I can go to bed and dream.
(Mike Holmans is an England and Test cricket fan and a full member of the MCC club at Lord’s since 1998)