Namibia win, Netherlands just as ICC accidentally open the World Cup well

Day one of the World Cup.

At around 14:00BST each day of the World Cup we will be brining you the World Cup Mood board from 99.94 on my YouTube channel. Come over and say hello. But here is the first one.

The ICC did everything they could to bury the start of this World Cup. Technically, the World Cup hasn't even started yet. They announce it that way, but this is a glorified qualifier. Imagine opening a World Cup with that famed rivalry of Namibia versus Sri Lanka.

And where is this game being played, at the famous cricket venue of Kardinia Park. This football ground recently changed the direction of the pitch. Not even in a major city, but a country town that one day will be swamped by Melbourne's suburban sprawl. And then the time, a day game on a Sunday afternoon. The ICC did everything to ensure no one saw this game, and Namibia blew it up.

The first time I studied Namibia was when they beat Scotland in the 2018 qualifiers, and I saw how disciplined they were there. They played the dimensions of the ground. When they decided it was time to bowl wide Yorkers, everyone did, and they nailed each one. They hustled in the field with great athleticism, cut off angles, and hunted in packs. When batting they make up for their lack of boundaries by stealing every single or two they can. They beat Scotland on that day and Sri Lanka today doing the same things.

They know their game, and they follow it with religious zealotry.

At 95/6 after 15 overs, I thought they could make 120, which is a very Namibia sort of total. But in the 16th, they scored a boundary, giving them 11 runs. In the 17th, they found another when Baard noticed Hasaranga kept bowling wrong'uns and swung with the spin. It was the 18th when Sri Lanka fell apart. The fifth bowler Karunarate allowed two boundaries and bowled five wides. And they got a bunch away at the end as Chameera struggled to get the ball anywhere he needed it.

They scored 68 from 30 from the moment Sri Lanka started making mistakes. What they had was a par total from what should have been 40-odd runs less. Huge for them.

Sri Lanka doesn't profile as a good death bowling team, and that played out today. There will be talk of panic and choking, but really, they had to use their fifth bowler and their legspinner at the end, it's spit and chewing gum keeping them together.

Ofcourse none of that should matter if Sri Lanka came out and smashed them everywhere. And they started poorly when Erasmus brought himself on, beginning with a half-track off-spinner. Almost as bad as the ICC who flashed up he was a leg spinner on the screen.

But other than a few balls that were too short, which they quickly corrected, they were on it. Ben Shikongo bustled through for two in two, and wasn't far off a hat trick. At that point, Namibia were in front, but Sri Lanka got back into it, really through an edge from Shikongo that just missed Green's athletic effort.

Three more boundaries in the next two overs meant Sri Lanka scored 30 runs in three, and with Rajapaksa out there, it could have got messy. But Bernard Scholtz saw him coming down the wicket, he dropped his arm, and fired it in short, and had him caught in the outer. That was the end of the match, we just didn't know it.

And that's became from here on in Namibia made Sri Lanka play to the circumference of the ground (which is like Adelaide Oval - long straight, short sides). Namibia, as they so often do in their victories, just played smarter cricket. And Sri Lanka never got back into the game.

As usual, Namibia were daring Sri Lanka to beat them, and just waiting for mistakes. They thrive on them. It is what they want. They're like a spellcheck AI system. And Sri Lanka kept feeding this tiny little monster what it needs to thrive, until Namibia had their biggest win in history. The little team that can, does it again.

The UAE have always been boring at World Cups, outside of Sultan Zarawani being sent to hospital by Allan Donald. You could not argue they were today.

Yes their batters, even Mohammad Waseem, got bogged down by decent seam bowling and their struggles to get on top of the bounce. But even then they were resplendent in their "beautiful winter' kit.

But mostly it was their bowling. We had three out of four innings with low scores, so either the wicket was worse than it looked - only O'down's wicket looked odd - or the teams just bowled well.

After four overs of the Netherlands chase, the game looked over, as they had 37 runs; they finally doubled that in the 14th over. That was a good effort, which was inspired by Karthik Meiyappan the young leggie who I thought did very well after a shaky start. He looks like an interesting find.

But the pressure that was built up was exploded by Junaid Siddique, who got the ball to reverse and caused a lot of problems. And earlier, he took Max O'Dowd, who looked like he was ending the game before the tenth over. Siddique should have won this game for the UAE, but that was beyond his control. When Rizwan dropped Pringle that was ultimately one mistake too far (though, not making any runs and allowing a flying start were both bigger errors).

It's hard to rate the Netherlands on this. They bowled well and got off to a flier, and their stacked middle order should have easily won this match. They looked built to win easy, and ended up scraping home.

There were good signs though. Before this World Cup, I thought the Netherlands would struggle without Pieter Seelaar's spin. I thought Roelof van Der Merwe was old, and no longer bowling as well (he took a wicket and held up), and Tim Pringle was young, and it may take him some time.

Two striking things about Pringle were how well he played - he definitely should have been man of the match. He opened the bowling, ripped one that frightened the shit out of UAE, and went for 13 runs in his four overs. With the bat he came in at number eight, making 43% of his career runs and helped Netherlands inch to victory.

But look at how he did it. Now Pringles have a great history of hair in cricket. Moth Meyrick and Derek had killer mullets. And Tim's dad, Chris, a New Zealand bowler, had one of the most significant bowl cuts of our game.

But Tom has taken it to another level, a mullet, but shaved at the sides, with Harry Potter glasses. This is the future of cricket.

And Tom's look is very much the mood of day one at the World Cup. One of the greatest upsets of all time, followed by a squeaky bum finish.

It's a great day to be a cricket fan, unless you are Sri Lankan.

Probably worth keeping an ear for the latest Sri Lanka on 99.94 podcast. It could be very fun.