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Monday, 10 May 2010

Things we have learned from the T20 so far.

We have another international T20 tournament to decide the world's finest teams, just ten months after the last one, and hot on the heels of the IPL, which was, even to the die-hard cricket fan like me, too bloody long.

Anyway, I have been following most of the games with interest, via online highlights, radio (when in car), cricinfo and via the guys and gals at

This is what I think we have learned so far from this tournament.

1. That 10 months is a long time in T20 Cricket

A period of dominance in test cricket, like the Windies in the late 70's and 80's, usually lasts for about 10-15 years. (most of England's periods like this, sadly, pre-date me) Well, T20 is, to say the least, a bit more fluid. In the tournament in England last year, Pakistan won, yet this time round, unsurprisingly, given their recent turmoil, they have been poor so far. They were joined in the Semi finals in 2009 by Sri Lanka, West Indies and South Africa. As the Super 8 tables sit at the moment, there will be at least two of these four teams missing out on the semi's.

Oh, and 10 months ago, Dirk Nannes was still a Dutchman.

2. That the IPL counts for very little.

India came into this tournament as one of the favourites, on the basis of the experience that their team has had in playing T20 cricket (for forever it seems) in the IPL. But it is encouraging to see that the gap between international and club cricket still exists even in the shortest form of the game. In the IPL, the "gun" fast bowler could be seen off or was ineffective due to the placid nature of the pitch, whereas India have had little answer to either the pace attacks of Australia or the relatively more modest bowlers of the West Indies.

That India were therefore favoured for this tournament is like saying with 40,000+ first class runs Graeme Hick's experience would be ideal for Test Matches.

Likewise, too many of the IPL games showed up a lack of depth in the teams. Games were over for the chasing team once the fifth wicket (usually when the overseas batsmen) were dismissed, and then the last 5 overs were painful to watch. Australia yesterday dug themselves deep into the shit at 67/5 after 11 overs, and with 3 still to be bowled by Malinga. Cameron White's knock was brutal, and doubly effective as Sri Lanka didn't see it coming. Hardly the ideal mindset to go out and bat against Nannes, Tait and Johnson. It is this depth of talent in the lower order (England have it, SA have it, and the West Indies think they have it with Pollard) that widens the gap.

3. That Catches win matches

Its no coincidence that the sides in the ascendancy at this competition are those who have shown the greatest skill with their ground fielding and catching. SA, Aus and England have taken some blinding catches, but some teams have been bloody awful, to be frank. None more so than Saeed Ajmal, who dropped three easy catches against England within the first five overs. The West Indies have also been shambolic at times.

4. Duckworth Lewis doesn't work in T20 cricket

It doesnt matter that Duckworth has slated Colly about whinging and defended his system, anyone who has a feel for cricket and a feel for numbers will tell you that the 50 over rain rules can not be applied to T20. The progress of Windies in chasing their total was assessed after just a few balls of their reply. This is clearly not a good guide, otherwise if the first ball of a T20 game goes for six then we are saying that the side will finish on 720/0. So far the highest scores have been 200 and something. So this is clearly nonsense.

With ten or even nine wickets in hand the chasing team can bat risk free towards whatever target is set based upon the run rate and the position after only one or two overs of their reply.
We risk games being won on the toss of a coin should it look a bit grim over Bill's Mothers'.

5. That England have found a winning formula

The rain debacle with WI and slight wobble against Ireland aside, England have so far suprised many people, including myself. After switching around so much between their usual nucleus of players, and the bits and pieces dobbers, England seem to have recognised T20 as a valid form of the game and have gone about constructing a stable side to met the requirements.

One could argue that the IPL did do us a favour in highlighting the talent of Michael Lumb. I'm not sure he was on the radar before then. Although Lumb and Kieswetter have not made big scores their impact in the first six overs has been tangible. The differences between the side 10 months ago and now are subtle but significant. Luke Wright has been given a role of late order hitter which is much better suited to him, Morgan and Pietersen have been excellent, and the star bowler for me has been.....Sussex's opening batsman Michael Yardy. (No Really).

The difference to me is also in the planning - I looked at the scorecards from the last T20 WC and couldnt believe England had Rob Key coming in at 7. Why? At long last England have found some consistency in the shorter form of the game, lets hope they stick with it.

6. Finally if aliens landed...

When the little green men are having their tour of earth, shortly before making us their slaves, and they want to know what is meant by "shadow of your former self", I'll sit them down to watch the start of Sri Lanka's innings against Australia last night or more specifically, that of Sanath Jayasuriya.

The 1996 World Cup and ODI cricket thereafter was transformed by this wiry, balding guy with shot-putter's forearms and an unerring ability to put the ball out of the park over point or deep midwicket seemingly at will. How sad it was to see him scratch around against Australia's pacemen, gamely trying to have the same impact, but probably even knowing himself that this was a tournament too far.

Sanath needs to take note from his contemporaries, like Matty Hayden. Old destructive opening bats don't retire. They go to Chennai, and whack it around with a cross between a cricket bat and a billy club.


  1. ... like Matty Hayden.

    Who had to be kicked out of the Australian XI. And forcefully at that.

  2. Thanks Betti, hope you enjoyed. Stay tuned for next instalment when I have a go at Langer ;)