Doing Nothing For A Week: Australia's Weird World Cup Cricket Schedule
What were tournament organisers thinking?
That's got to be the question on every fan's mind after they take a look at the extremely bizarre Cricket World Cup 2019 schedule, which sees Australia with a full week between its second-last and last group games.
Yes, after this Saturday night's match between Australia and New Zealand, the Aussies will have seven days to contemplate their next game against South Africa -- an essentially meaningless clash given Australia has already cemented a semi-final berth, while South Africa can't make the semis.
So with the Aussies playing their first eight games within 29 days, why the long gap until the ninth?
10 daily put that question to Cricket Australia, who told us two interesting things.
Firstly, international cricket's governing body, the ICC, designed the schedule so this is not some Pommy plot. (As to why it has been designed thus, we have forwarded this question on to the ICC and will let you know if we hear back.)
Secondly, the feeling in the Aussie camp is that the players are not too fussed about the full week off because:
a) The schedule has been out for ages to they've had time to get used to it, and;
b) It might actually work in their favour to give players a few extra days rest heading into the finals after a lengthy group stage;
Historically speaking, the Aussies have often played golf during downtime in tournaments and cricket tours. We imagine there will be some very golfy areas in the week ahead.
Interestingly, in the World Cup in England 20 years ago, the Aussies played a round of golf before their crunch match against South Africa -- and we all know how that tuned out. Yes, Australia won both the match and, eventually, the tournament.
In other World Cup news, England's players are angry at fans as their World Cup campaign teeters on the brink of failure after they started the tournament as favourites.
After consecutive losses (and an overall 4-3 record), England still cling to fourth spot on the World Cup table, but they now face tough encounters against New Zealand and India. Lose either match, and either Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Pakistan could leapfrog them into the semis.
Meanwhile the English public and even former players have turned against them.
And England batsman Jonny Bairstow is quite bitter about it.
"People were waiting for us to fail. They are not willing us on to win. In many ways, they are waiting for you to get that loss, so they can jump on your throat. It's a typical English thing to do, in every sport," he said after the loss to Australia this week.
If England struggle through and make the semis and happen to meet Australia again, the question will be whether their hard battle fitness will trump Australia's relaxed preparation. Interesting times ahead.