Heartache for the English, to be sure, but in the end, this most predictable of World Cups, Ireland notwithstanding, has continued true to form. Close, but no cigar.
Going into the Super Eights, it was evident that Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand were clear favourites to make the semi-finals, with England the only team of the other four that really had a chance to crash the party. Unfortunately for the tournament, their chance was today, and they couldn't take it. Their only hope is to now defeat either South Africa or Australia, but their biggest worry will be that even if they do so, they face the host nation in the final match of the league, and the West Indians are sure to want to at least exit on a winning note.
It's harsh to say it, but you have to think that had India and Pakistan made it through, at least there would have been a fight to the last four. Still, Ireland and Bangladesh earned their spots, more so than Kenya in the last tournament, so we can't complain.
Frankly, I didn't rate England as a chance today, so I should really keep my mouth shut. Ravi Bopara and Paul Nixon left me speechless as they first let the game slip (apparently), and then brought it right back from the brink. You always felt though, that the team that nearly pulled off a miracle against South Africa were not going to come second at the end of this one.
It seems to me that Sri Lanka are the team most likely to challenge Australia in the final, with a Shane Bond inspired New Zealand possibly the other team who could come close. I can't see the South African bowling attack pulling it off, so I'm hoping that the Kiwis and Lankans can sneak into 2nd and 3rd place, to ensure that one of them faces off against Ponting's men on April 28th.