Monday, February 2, 2015

The 2015 Cricket World Cup is a woefully organised missed opportunity Preview

What should be cricket's showpiece event is instead set up to be a predictable, overlong bore thanks to the ICC being in the hands of businessmen.
World Cups should popularise the sport concerned. Nothing could be better designed than cricket’s eleventh World Cup to turn people off.
Starting on Saturday week, the first month will consist of little more than meandering and meaningless middle-practice as we wade through 42 matches which will end up telling us what everybody knew in advance: that the four main teams in each group are stronger than the three minnows, and will thus qualify for the quarter-finals.
It is an appalling waste of an opportunity to showcase the sport. Even where you finish in the top four is only of mild relevance, because the venues for the quarter-finals have already been allotted for the teams in Pool A, England’s group, with the hosts Australia and New Zealand guaranteed a quarter-final at home. Only your quarter-final opponents are not already decided.
True, it is difficult to have a lot of countries involved – in this case 14 - and thereby make it what it says on the tin, a World Cup, while at the same time avoiding loads of mis-matches. But it could have been done - if the ICC’s intention had been to make the cricket as interesting as possible, not to maximise revenue, the bulk of which then goes to Australia, England and India, the three countries which need it least!
Two simple measures could have made this World Cup interesting throughout, not just at the knockout stage. Cut out the quarter-finals, firstly, so that only the top two teams in each group go through to the knock-outs, and immediately the qualifying games become dog-eats-dog.
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Secondly, if teams finish level on points, net run-rate should be the deciding factor. Suddenly the mis-matches become relevant: England have to score 500 in beating Afghanistan, for example, to go through to the semis. And if Australia go too hard too soon against Bangladesh to up their run-rate, the chances of David beating Goliath are increased.
But no. This World Cup consists of 49 matches, of which the last seven will be significant. By cutting out the quarter-finals, the ICC would be liable to refund the broadcasters for the four games unplayed. Each one of the 45 games would be interesting, but the object of this exercise is to set 49 games before India’s television audience, one per day for six weeks, with one hundred advertising breaks between overs.
It was the same in the last World Cup of 2011, except that England and home advantage came to the rescue. While one group was played out entirely as predicted, England – knackered after winning The Ashes in Australia – succeeded in enlivening their group by losing to Bangladesh in Chittagong, and Ireland. Even so, the four main teams in their group still qualified for the quarter-finals.
The essence of sport – its unpredictability – is precisely what the organisers of this World Cup have filleted out. They have allowed for a shock somewhere along the line - perhaps West Indies, given the shambolic state their cricket is in, may be beaten by a minnow – but nothing can disturb the progress of the eight main teams to the knock-out stages.

The organisers of the 2007 World Cup are partly to blame. It has been as a reaction to their mistake that the last two World Cups have been made cast-iron, guaranteed predictable for the first month.
For the World Cup in the West Indies in 2007, 16 countries were divided into four groups of four by a committee which, under the ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, included nobody who had played cricket at a professional level, and which was therefore blissfully unaware of India’s tendency to start global tournaments slowly.
Lo and behold, Bangladesh defeated India in a qualifier and knocked them out of the Super Eight stage. Ireland, simultaneously, knocked out Pakistan. Bangladesh and Ireland, not India and Pakistan, contested the Super Eights and duly finished bottom as the mis-matches proliferated. Nobody watched in the West Indies or on television. The tournament could not have been a bigger disaster.
So now everything has been done short of match-fixing to guarantee that India are in the tournament for the first 46 matches, along with the seven other major teams. Only the semis and final have been left to chance.
The next World Cup, to be staged in England in 2019, offers only a partial solution. It will not really be a “World” Cup because only ten countries will participate. It will be a de luxe version of the Champions Trophy, which is confined to the eight main teams.
Which all goes to prove that the ICC should not be in the hands of businessmen who excel at committees. It should be in the hands of cricket people, so the right values are given the highest priority, advised by businessmen.


ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 opening ceremony to have top Australian performers preview

Melbourne: Popular Australian performers Jessica Mauboy, Tina Arena, Nathaniel and Daryl Braithwaite will headline the entertainment line-up at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Opening Event accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with Musical Director, Chong Lim, here.

Victoria’s Minister Tourism and Major Events, John Eren, made the announcement on Monday from Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl, where the gala event will take place on February 12, two nights before the MCG hosts Australia and England in the highly anticipated opening match of the tournament.

“The ICC Cricket World Cup is returning to Australia for the first time in 23 years and Melbourne is truly honoured to host the Opening Event,” Minister Eren said.

Tournament co-hosts New Zealand will also stage an Opening Event on the same evening in Christchurch. A spectacular fireworks display and symbolic ‘World Cup’ moment will provide Melburnians and international guests with a night to remember, with Australia’s multi-talented export, Jessica thrilled to be performing live.

“It is a privilege to welcome the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to Melbourne and Australia by performing at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl for the Opening Event in front of a number of teams, including Australia and England before their big opening match,” Mauboy said.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Chief Executive John Harnden said: “It is fantastic to be working with the Victorian Government on this world-class event. Tickets for the Opening Event were snapped up within minutes and we hope those attending will be even more excited with the calibre of artists revealed today,” Harnden said.

The event in Christchurch will feature some of New Zealand’s best known performers, cricket legends including Sir Richard Hadlee and Stephen Fleming and a special segment to recognise the rebuilding of the city following the disastrous earthquakes of 2011.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Buffalo Sabres vs. Anaheim Ducks:preview Pick-Odds-Prediction - 10/13/14

    Anaheim Ducks (1-1-0) at Buffalo Sabres (0-2-0)
    Date & Time: NHL Hockey: Monday, October 13, 2014 at 3:00 pm (First Niagara Center)
    The Line: The Line: Buffalo Sabres +145 / Anaheim Ducks -165 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See The Latest Odds
    Live On: MSG-Buffalo

Buffalo Sabres vs. Anaheim Ducks Pick-Odds-Prediction - 10/13/14: Mark's Free NHL Hockey Pick Against the Spread
Photo by: USA TODAY Sports

The Sabres look to pick up a home win against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

The Anaheim Ducks stay on the road with a visit to the First Niagara Center to take the ice with the Buffalo Sabres.

A strong third period led the Anaheim Ducks to a 3-2 road win over the Red Wings on Saturday night. Detroit led 2-1 before the Ducks scored twice to escape with the win with the winner coming with just 24 ticks remaining in regulation. Ryan Getzlaf recorded the winner for his second tally of the game with Matt Beleskey scoring the other. Getzlaf's late goal made a winner of Frederik Andersen who recorded 27 saves to pick up the victory. Gustav Nyquist and Luke Glendening scored for the Red Wings with the loss going to Jimmy Howard who made 23 stops.

A third period collapse doomed the Buffalo Sabres to a 6-2 defeat versus the Blackhawks at the United Center on Saturday. Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgenson's each scored in the opening frame but the offense stalled the rest of the way. Jhonas Enroth saw plenty of rubber with all six goals allowed on 47 shots with four scored in the 3rd. The Blackhawks received goals from Duncan Keith, Andrew Shaw, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Dan Carcillo. That was plenty of support for Corey Crawford who picked up the win with 21 saves.

Buffalo has gone 5-2 versus the Ducks in the last seven home match ups with Anaheim while the home team is 8-3 in the past eleven overall. Right now I favor Anaheim but please check back Monday afternoon...


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Live Schedule and game preview 2014


Time: 08:00 PM ET.
Competition:Portland trail blazers vs. oklahoma city thunder
Venue:Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game preview:

About the Thunder:

Oklahoma City comes into Portland on a hot streak, having won eight games in a row, including a 97-95 victory at Sacramento on Tuesday. The streak includes wins over two other top Western Conference teams, Golden State and San Antonio. ... Durant, who on Tuesday was named the Western Conference Player of the Month, entered Tuesday's games as the leading scorer in the NBA, 2.0 points ahead of New York's Carmelo Anthony. Durant led the league in scoring for three consecutive seasons before Anthony ended the run last season. ... Before Tuesday, Oklahoma City was No. 8 in the league in points per game at 104.1. Last season, they finished No. 3 at 105.7. ... Ibaka ranks No. 3 in blocks at 2.6. He led the league last season at 3.03. 

About the Blazers:

 Portland looks for its third win a row after its 11-game winning streak was ended in Phoenix last Wednesday. They have since beaten the Lakers and Indiana. ... Portland has not lost at the Moda Center since Nov. 5, when they fell to Houston. They've since won six home games in a row and are 7-1 at home. ... The Blazers rank No. 5 in the NBA in point differential at plus-5 as they are averaging 104.7 while giving up 99.7 points per game. Last season they finished No. 22 at minus-3.2. ... Aldridge ranks No. 2 among power forwards in scoring, one point behind Minnesota's Kevin Love. Lillard is No. 5 among point guards. ... Lillard had an eight-game streak of not missing a free throw end Sunday in Los Angeles, where he went 8 for 9 against the Lakers. He made all 10 of his free-throw attempts against Indiana on Monday and is No. 9 in the league at 90.7 percent. His backup, Mo Williams, who does not have enough attempts to be listed among the league leaders, is 11 for 11 at the line. 

Series history: 

The Thunder have won 10 of the last 12 matchups, including all four last season, and have a 110-102 all-time lead, which includes games played before the team moved from Seattle. Since becoming the Thunder, OKC has a 12-8 advantage. The Blazers have a 67-39 home advantage.

Injuries: For Portland, guard CJ McCollum (left foot break) is out. The Thunder report no injuries.


Watch Sacramento Kings vs New Orleans Pelicans Live schedule and Preview


Time: 08:00 PM ET.
Competition:Sacramento Kings vs New Orleans Pelicans
Venue:New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana


                   Sacramento Kings vs New Orleans Pelicans Preview:

The New Orleans Pelicans have finally picked up a win in 2014 after ending their long losing streak, but they still haven't won in front of their home fans since December.

Facing a Sacramento team that's in the midst of an arduous road trip might be just what they need to end that drought.

The Pelicans aim for their first home win in more than three weeks Tuesday night as they look for their ninth victory in the Kings' last 10 visits to New Orleans.

Led by Anthony Davis, who had 27 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and four steals, the Pelicans ended their eight-game skid with a 95-92 victory at Memphis on Monday.

New Orleans (16-24) was down entering the final quarter, but Davis and Tyreke Evans combined for 17 of the Pelicans' 27 fourth-quarter points, helping the team raise its record to 3-19 when trailing after 36 minutes.

"It just feels good to get a win," coach Monty Williams said. "For me, it's all about (Sacramento) and the preparation has already started for that but I want our guys to enjoy it."

New Orleans hasn't won at home since beating Portland on Dec. 30, but the last time it won back-to-back games - Dec. 23 and 27 - it started with a 113-100 win at Sacramento.

To do that again, the Pelicans need to keep feeding Evans, the former Kings guard who signed with New Orleans during the offseason. Evans had season highs of 25 points and 12 assists when the teams met last month, and the Pelicans are 11-4 this season when he scores at least 15 points.

Davis has also been a force of late, carrying the team while Evans, Jrue Holiday, Jason Smith and Ryan Anderson have missed time with injuries. Davis has averaged 26.4 points and 11.8 rebounds in his last five games.

"Everybody contributed, all the way down to the 10th guy," Davis said following the win over Memphis. "That's what we're going to need while our guys are down (due to injury)."

The Kings (14-25) have dropped eight of nine in New Orleans and three of four on their current six-game trip after Sunday's 108-93 loss to Oklahoma City. Rudy Gay scored just six points before being ejected midway through the fourth quarter for arguing with an official.

"Rudy, obviously, I think he was frustrated with the way he was playing and he wound up getting thrown out of the game, which is unfortunate," coach Michael Malone said. "We'll bounce back, we'll work on some things, watch some film and we still have two games on this trip that we feel like we have a great chance to win."

Gay had averaged 23.0 points while Sacramento had gone 4-2 in its previous six games, but he had 11 points while missing 10 of 12 shots and six turnovers in the loss to the Pelicans last month.

The Kings are 8-3 when he scores 20 or more points, and winless in eight games where fails to reach that mark.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Orlando Magic:NBA Live Schedule 2014 and Preview

Live Schedule

Time:07:00 PM ET.
Competition:Charlotte Bobcats vs Orlando Magic
Venue :Amway Center, Orlando, Florida

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Orlando Magic Preview:

After failing to capitalize on one of their best chances to snap a lengthy losing streak, the Orlando Magic will try to end their woes when they face another struggling Southeast Division team.

The Charlotte Bobcats will seek to avoid their 10th loss in 12 games by sending the Magic to a 10th consecutive defeat Friday night.

Orlando (10-29) rallied to force overtime against visiting Chicago on Wednesday and had late leads in two of the three extra periods before suffering a 128-125 defeat. The Magic had a chance to take a lead in the final seconds of the third overtime, but Glen Davis' 3-point attempt was partially blocked.

Coach Jacque Vaughn, though, was not displeased by his team's effort after Orlando had lost its previous six games by an average of 19.5 points.

"You feel for the guys. You want them to get a victory underneath them, but we got better tonight," said Vaughn, whose team was coming off a five-game road trip.

Rookie Victor Oladipo finished with a career-high 35 points, Jameer Nelson had a season-best 31 and Tobias Harris contributed 22 with 16 rebounds.

"I'm more mad than exhausted right now," said Oladipo, who played a team-high 57 minutes. "But it's a short turnaround, so you have to have a short-term memory."

While Orlando is likely to remain without starting center Nikola Vucevic (concussion) leading scorer Arron Afflalo could return after missing the last three games with a strained foot.

"It's my intent to play, but I'm supposed to leave that up to the training staff," said Afflalo, averaging 20.8 points.

The Magic look to avoid their third double-digit losing streak in 13 months by beating the Bobcats (16-24) for the second time in as many tries this season. Orlando won 92-83 in Charlotte on Dec. 11 with seven players scoring in double figures, led by Davis and Nelson with 17 points apiece.

The Bobcats did win both of last season's visits to Orlando but enter this one having dropped seven of eight on the road.

They lost for the ninth time in 11 games overall Wednesday, 95-92 in Philadelphia on Thaddeus Young's 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds to go.

Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker delivered some more high-scoring performances but got little help from their teammates. Walker had a team-best 26 points and Jefferson scored 24, but no one else tallied more than 11.

Over the last three games, Walker has averaged 26.7 points while Jefferson has scored 26.3.

Walker averaged 28.8 points in last season's four meetings with Orlando but scored 10 on 4-of-18 shooting in last month's loss. Jefferson also was held to 10, and Gerald Henderson scored 12 on 3-of-14 shooting after averaging 25.0 points during Charlotte's three-game win streak in the series.

Henderson had eight points -- one off a season low -- and shot a season-worst 2 for 14 on Wednesday.

Harris, who missed last month's matchup with the Bobcats because of a sprained ankle, was one off a career high with 29 points in his last game against them -- a 114-108 road loss March 27.


Watch Los Angeles Clippers vs. New York Knicks:NBA Live Stream Schedule and Preview Info


Time:07:00 PM ET.
Competition::New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Clippers
Venue ::Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

Preview Info:

 The Los Angeles Clippers will face the New York Knicks Friday night at Madison Square Garden in New York in an NBA 2014 game that will live stream online free at 7:00 PM ET.

Los Angeles plays its first of seven straight road games Friday.The Clippers (27-13) have won four of five since Chris Paul separated his shoulder Jan. 3 and are on the verge of a five-game winning streak that would match their season high.

J.J. Redick scored a career-high 33 points and Blake Griffin added 23 as the Los Angeles rallied from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Dallas 129-127 on Wednesday to sweep its four-game homestand.

Matt Barnes had 25 points off the bench, and Jamal Crawford hit two free throws with 11 seconds remaining to give the Clippers the lead.

Though the Clippers have had success since their star point guard went down, they're hoping to be even better on their second seven-game trip of the season.

Los Angeles went 4-3 on the previous trip Dec. 4-14.

"We want to play better. We really do, even without Chris," coach Doc Rivers told the team's official website. "I thought we were very inconsistent in our play. And you have to be a consistent team on the road. That doesn't mean you're going to win, but I think you give yourself a (better) shot."

Each game during the trip will be against an Eastern Conference foe, including a date Saturday with an Indiana team that is 20-1 at home.

"We want to perform a lot better than we did that last road trip," Griffin said. "I thought it was pretty disappointing last time around, so it's going to be tough being on the road in the same situation without our point guard. But guys have to step up and I'm sure guys will."

Griffin and Redick scored 15 points apiece to help the Clippers beat the Knicks 93-80 on Nov. 27. They've won three straight in the series by an average of 13.3 points and will look to deal New York a third straight defeat after it fell 117-89 to the Pacers on Thursday.

Carmelo Anthony, who needed 23 shots to score 27 points in the last meeting with Los Angeles, finished with 28 to lead the Knicks (15-24).

"They're a good team, but I don't think they're 30 points better than our team," said coach Mike Woodson, whose team shot 40 percent from the field. "We were awful."

The Clippers signed Hedo Turkoglu for the rest of the season Thursday to add another option off the bench. He's expected to join Los Angeles for its road trip.

"He's another shooter," Rivers said. "Sometimes you don't bring a guy in because someone's not doing something. It's because he does something that our other guys do as well. He can space the floor. He's very skilled and we'd like to take advantage of that."

Turkoglu hasn't played since Feb. 4 with Orlando, battling a hand injury while also serving a 20-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.