Sometimes in sport losing a match can be useful. So it proved at the recent women cricket World Cup. The two best sides in the world in most peoples’ opinions are Australia and England. England have invested a large amount of money in the sport and have gone to the last two World tournaments (the Twenty Twenty last year and this year’s World Cup) as favourites.
However, last year they fell short in the final after playing well in the previous games. This time they managed to lose to Sri Lanka in their first game, which although not terminal to their hopes at the time, proved to be crucial in the end. The defeat to Sri Lanka smacked a little of complacency. England had never previously lost to the Sri Lankans and weren’t expected to have any difficulty this time.
England then progressed smoothly until playing Australia in the Super Six stage of the tournament. Australia won a very close game which put them into the final. To progress England had to win their remaining games, which they did, and hope that other results went their way.
Going into the final round of games it became apparent that Australia could contrive to lose to the West Indies and guarantee that the West Indies and not England would make the final. Lo and behold Australia were cruising to victory when suddenly the suffered a batting collapse which let the West Indies win the match. England were left helpless. A very convenient result for the Aussies who, when they were playing properly, duly thrashed the West Indies in the final a few days later.
So a lesson for England. Take all your opponents seriously. You never know what might happen down the line if you don’t. It’s also a worry that the team has underperformed at a crucial stage in the most important tournaments.