Morning everyone. We need to talk about the weather – this is England, after all. It’s been pretty good so far, with just the one match out of 14 washed away, and that, with all respect to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, only a medium-sized occasion. But the papers are full of gloom this morning, saying a month’s rain’s a-gonna fall in 24 hours flat. And today’s meeting between West Indies and South Africa at the Hampshire Bowl looks like being, at best, severely interrupted.
The chance of rain, according to the Met Office, is the wrong side of 50 per cent all day long. That said, the Bowl is only four miles from the sea as the crow flies, and the weather on the coast is more capricious than most, so there’s a glimmer of hope.
If we do get a game, it may well be a Twenty20, which will make West Indies even firmer favourites. South Africa have had a shocker, and their best bet may be to bowl first, give Kagiso Rabada at least three slips, and start a collapse, much as the Windies did themselves against Australia – a game they would surely have won if Jason Holder had kept his foot on the throat.
If the South Africans bat first, the central figure will be Quentin de Kock, who will have to do a Jason Roy rather than a David Warner. The problem is that Roys can be Roys when they have the likes of Bairstow, Morgan and Buttler behind them. Without AB de Villiers, South Africa just don’t have that firepower. And, with Dale Steyn unable to bowl a ball in this tournament, there’s a heavy weight on the shoulders of Rabada and Chris Morris. For the sake of human decency, as well as an exciting World Cup, it would be great to see South Africa bounce back off the ropes.
India’s formidable win over Australia maintained the pattern of this World Cup. Everyone batting first and making 250 has won, while everyone batting second and making 250 has lost. The highest successful run chase is 248 by New Zealand against Bangladesh. Today, it’ll be a minor miracle if either side get that many. Play starts, in theory, at 10.30am BST, in just under an hour.