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Sometimes you just have to poke fun at the misfortune of others. A result from today's matches in the Women's World Cup Qualifiers:
Bermuda 13 (18 overs; Mienzer 1, Jackson 1, R Smith 1, Loubser 6/3); South Africa 15/0 (0.4 overs; Anderson 4, "Extras" 10). South Africa win by 10 wickets.
That's right, South Africa win after just 4 legal deliveries; Bermuda managed just 3 runs off the bat, with 8 players scoring zero. I think we can safely say that Zimbabwe won't be the worst team in this tournament...
ICC - Loubser Stars as South Africa coast to Victory

Uganda Score One Over Bermuda

Bermuda's woes since gaining ODI status after the 2005 ICC Trophy have been well-documented, and their performances don't seem to be getting any better. On Monday, they were rolled over by Uganda in the second one-day match between the two sides (Uganda having only narrowly missed out in the first match). Uganda have also claimed the scalp of Kenya in a Twenty20 international earlier in the year, and won the World Cricket League Division Three title back in June. On current form, would you bet against Africa having a fourth ODI-ranked side come the end of the 2009 World Cup Qualifiers? I wouldn't...

(As an aside, both Namibia and Tanzania could also potentially gain ODI status by 2009 through the WCL system, depending on results, while Botswana and Mozambique are also in the competition - but their route through from Division Five would be far from easy. Uganda are looking the most likely African team at the moment to qualify. If you're interested in working through the permutations, the WCL is outlined here.)

CWC Round-Up: 25 March

The final match of the group stage was a stop-start affair, thanks to plenty of rain in Port of Spain, and was eventually reduced to a 21-overs per side slogfest. Bangladesh won the toss and elected to field, knowing that a win would secure their own place in the Super Eight and secure an early flight home for the Indians, and within the first over the wickets began to fall. Dean Minors top-scored for Bermuda with 23, as their usual mainstay David Hemp went for a 4th-ball duck. To their credit, Bermuda's final total of 94/9 was reasonable in the conditions, and when Saleem Mukuddem secured 3 early wickets it looked like the upset may have been on the cards. The arrival of Mohammad Ashraful at the crease signalled the end of the Bermudan dream, though, and Ashraful and Saqibul Hasan steading the Bangladeshi innings and saw their side home.
Bangladesh beat Bermuda by 7 wickets (D/L method)

CWC Round-Up: 19 March

West Indies v Zimbabwe is dealt with elsewhere. The other game of the day was India v Bermuda, which as with most Full Member v Associate matches so far turned into a one-sided walkover. India at least made it interesting, by running up a World Cup record total of 413/5 on the way to a World Cup record winning margin of 257 runs. Bermuda had a brief way of light as Dwayne Leverock took an amazing catch in the 2nd over to remove Uthappa (all the more amazing because of Leverock's sheer size), but it was very much a false dawn as the remaining Indian batsmen stepped on the gas and scored freely for the remainder of their innings. In reply, Bermuda were hapless - 5 batsmen removed for no score, with only David Hemp (the team's sole professional player) giving some respectability thanks to his score of 76 not out. While at one end of the Associate scale Ireland and Kenya are flying the flag, Bermuda have seemed hopelessly out of their depth during the tournament.
West Indies beat Zimbabwe by 6 wickets
India beat Bermuda by 257 runs

Next up: Scotland v South Africa in Group A, and Kenya v New Zealand in Group C.

CWC Round-Up: 18 March

No upsets today as the minnows stayed firmly in their places, but England did nothing to mark themselves as possible contenders after failing to convincingly see off Canada.

After being in the limelight for all the wrong reasons after Freddie Flintoff's drunken antics, England took to the field without the former vice-captain (dropped for disciplinary reasons), while Canada seemed determined not to be trampled underfoot. Compared to the scores other sides have run up against the weaker Associates, England's 279/6 didn't seem overly impressive, and Canada then went on to put up a fight with the bat - not enough to secure them the win, but enough to make sure they went out of the match without having disgraced themselves, and having raised a number of question marks over England's current form

No such luck for the hapless Dutch, however. Australia continued where South Africa left off, on their way to what was briefly a World Cup record winning margin of 229 runs. Australia's 358 was always out of reach of the Netherlands batsmen, and while they'd at least managed to bat out their overs against the Proteas, there was no such consolation here, thanks mainly to Hogg's 4/27.
Australia beat Netherlands by 229 runs
England beat Canada by 51 runs

Next up: India v Bermuda, and West Indies v Zimbabwe.

CWC Round-Up: 15 March

Two games yesterday - Ireland v Zimbabwe in group D, which is dealt with in detail elsewhere, and Bermuda v Sri Lanka in Group B. Bermuda were already seen as the whipping boys of ODI cricket before this match, and their performance in it won't have done anything to dispel that image. Instead, they'll have given those who would rather see the Associates left out of the World Cup a little more ammunition.

Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat, and immediately set about giving themselves some batting practice against a rather tame Bermudan attack - even the usually handy Dwayne Leverock failed to make much of an impact, with Sri Lanka slogging their way to 321/6 for their 50 overs.

Bermuda, meanwhile, were immediately in trouble, being reduced to 2/2 inside the first 4 overs, with only Cann (28) and Hemp (14) making their way to double figures. It wasn't for lack of time at the wicket, either - Oliver Pitcher managed just 6 off 53 deliveries, Janeiro Tucker being similarly becalmed scoring just 4 off 32. Sri Lanka's bowlers needed just 25 overs to finish the job, as Bermuda were bowled out for a feeble 78.

I'm all for having the Associates in the World Cup - it'd the best possible way to get the experience they need to progress up the ladder, and full marks to the ICC for now having a clear pprogression path in place for the one-day game - but Bermuda are clearly out of their depth here. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, will be happy with 2 safe points.
Sri Lanka beat Bermuda by 243 runs
Ireland tied with Zimbabwe

Next up: Netherlands v South Africa in Group A, and England v New Zealand from Group C.

Easy Win for Zimbabwe Over Bermuda

72 not out by Sean Williams helped Zimbabwe to an easy win over Bermuda yesterday, with Zim needing only 29 overs to chase down Bermuda's total. After winning the toss and electing to bat, Bermuda were in early trouble with the loss of their top 4 batsmen for just 31 runs. The arrival of Janeiro Tucker and Oliver Pitcher brought some mid-innings stability, but once they were removed the poor batting continued. Only 4 of Bermuda's batsmen reached double figures, and while they managed to complete 50 overs (the final wicket falling on the last ball of their innings), their final total of 136 looked well short of being a defendable total. Anthony Ireland's 3/22 was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowling, with just one bowler (Elton Chigumbura) going for more than 3/over.

When Vusi Sibanda and Terrence Duffin both fell within the first 3 overs, though, Bermuda may have had visions of an unlikely win - but Sean Williams and Chamu Chibhabha combined to put on 73 for the third wicket and played a large part in bringing up the required total in just 29 overs.

A walk in the park for Zimbabwe, then, but the cheap wickets of Duffin (1), Sibanda (2) and Chigumbura (4) will be a worry ahead of the opening group match against Ireland. The Arnos Vale wicket seems to have suited Zimbabwe's bowlers during both warm-up matches - hopefully Jamaica will be equally friendly, but some work clearly need to be done on the batting if Zimbabwe are to harbour any hopes of progressing to the Super Eight.

Bermuda 136 (50 overs; Tucker 56, Ireland 3/22), Zimbabwe 137/4 (29 overs; Williams 72*, Leverock 2/54). Zimbabwe win by 6 wickets. Check below the cut for the full scorecard.

CWC Round-Up: 5 March

No surprises in the first round of warm-up matches, which all placed Full Members against Associates - although South Africa in particular will be breathing a sigh of relief, as Ireland at one stage had them at 98/8 before a timely performance from Andrew Hall saved their blushes. A worrying glitch for the world #1's, who have a reputation for choking at major tournaments, and also possibly worrying for Zimbabwe, who face Ireland in their first group match.

Also close was the West Indies v Kenya match - although with Kenya being easily the strongest Associate side & previous semi-finalists (2003), this maybe wasn't so much of a surprise. Scotland will be disappointed by the margin of their loss to Sri Lanka, coming off the back of their impressive form in the WCL Division One tournament, while Bermuda were on the receiving end of the first drubbing of the tournament after being bowled out by England for just 45 - inevitably bringing a fresh round of criticism at the inclusion of the Associates in the World Cup, but a look at the other matches should show that criticism to be mostly unfounded.
Sri Lanka beat Scotland by 159 runs
West Indies beat Kenya by 21 runs
South Africa beat Ireland by 35 runs
England beat Bermuda by 241 runs

Today's matches (6 March): Australia v Zimbabwe, Canada v Pakistan, Bangladesh v New Zealand and India v Netherlands.

Zim Tie Up Tri-Series Win

Bermuda put up more of a fight in Saturday's Tri-Series final against Zimbabwe, but it still wasn't enough to prevent Zim from lifting the title. Having at one point reached a healthy 200/2 Zimbabwe should have reached a higher total than they did, but the departure of Vusi Sibanda for 116 triggered something of a batting collapse, leaving the team to finally reach 259/7 for their 50 overs.

In reply, Bermuda seemed to be following Zimbabwe's gameplan from the West Indies series and never really seemed to be trying to chase the total that had been set for them, instead being content to try and bat out the innings. Zim's bowlers put on another good display to prevent that, though, with Tawanda Mupariwa taking 3/19 and Blessing Mawhire 3/29 on the way to a deserved Zimbabwe win. Next up: Bangladesh, who at Zimbabwe's current strength will be more of a challenge - the last time the two teams met (in Bangladesh, 2005, when Zim had a considerably stronger team than they do now), the Asian team won the ODI series 3-2...
Zimbabwe 259/7 (50 ovrs); Bermuda 176 (47.2 ovrs)
Zimbabwe win by 83 runs & win series

Zim Wrap Up Group Stage in Style

Zimbabwe managed to step up a gear in the final group match of the ICC Tri-Series in Trinidad, amassing 338 runs - just 2 short of Zimbabwe's highest 1-day total (340 against Namibia in CWC2003) - on their way to an emphatic 194-run win. Just the sort of warm-up the Zimbabweans will have wanted ahead of Saturday's final.

Apart from Piet Rinke, who once again failed to live up to his opening-batsman billing (caught behind for 6), all of Zimbabwe's batsmen made significant contributions, with Brendan Taylor's 98 and Vusi Sibanda's 78 being the pick of the bunch. Come the Bermudan innings, while Zimbabwe weren't able to bowl them out they were able to restrict the run-rate, with Bermuda reaching just 144 from their 50 overs. Blessing Mawhire (2/24) and Anthony Ireland (2/26) led the bowling figures.

After the series defeat by the West Indies, this series will no doubt go some way to lift the spirits of the Zimbabwean team, even though it was against "lower-class" opposition. It also points out that, although Zim may be bottom of the Full Member pile, they're still some way beyond the Associate opposition, and an enforced drop down to that level, as some would no doubt suggest as being appropriate, would be unlikely to help Zimbabwe raise their standards.
Zimbabwe 338/7 (50 ovrs); Bermuda 144/7 (50 ovrs)
Zimbabwe win by 194 runs

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