Posts Tagged ‘Afghanisthan’

T20 Cricket: Give Credit Where It Is Due

Posted: September 29, 2012 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, World T20 2012
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Goutham Chakravarthi

All administrators I have met in Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan or otherwise – were much relieved when Afghanisthan gave India only a scare but nothing more. India’s fortunes in the tournament seems to have a direct impact on the success or failure of the tournament – read the 2007 and 2011 ICC World Cups respectively – according to a well placed administrator.

Compared to the ICC World Cups, the World T20s seem to hedge their investments better. A third of the tournament is spent playing games only when the rest of the world is sure of which eight will move on to the next round. And by the time eight becomes four, three-quarters of the tournament is done and the tournament is not a financial disaster anymore. One-day world cups with a bigger spread, either fall or rise with India’s fortunes.

The various T20 leagues that have mushroomed are seen to be deterrents to the other two forms of the game. The calendar is packed with these through the year and around the world. And, yes, corruption seems to walk hand-in-hand with these T20 leagues. Strong administration and policing will eventually decide the integrity of these leagues as will strong counseling of players by self, player associations and home boards. But corruption and greed in cricket cannot be restricted to the T20 timeline alone, for they have hampered the game for centuries.

But to its credit, T20 cricket has restored some parity in to cricket. Not long ago, it would be an exercise in patience to sit through a cricket match in India. The facilities and treatment of the fans in the grounds are among the poorest. Still, people paid vast monies to sit through the charade of concrete footsteps for seats, boundary placards for shade from scorching heat, thundering rains and bird-waste. And public toilets were, err, open dumps of waste.

T20 cricket has perhaps not changed all that, but it has changed things for the better. The game lasts shorter and the misery of the fan lasts shorter. Also, leagues and team owners seem to have taken the extra effort to improve the facilities to bring more people in even as they milk the money from the gate collection as cricket increasingly becomes a television sport. That said, the administrators still care more for the money than for spectator comfort, but it is much better than what it was this time a decade ago.

Women and children flock to T20 cricket and in it remains T20 cricket’s biggest triumph. Often Sunday cricket practices include a short game of 20 overs-a-side where the parents watch their wards perform in my part of the world. Perhaps the bigger leagues are dressed with better toppings – with music, refreshment, games and an evening out – of the simple game it is: fast, high adrenaline and short.

The connoisseur might smirk at it and call it names for it may not be a true test of one’s abilities. It is still a test of many abilities. It is still cricket. And runs and wickets matter as they do in other forms. And wins are wins.

The thrill of sixes and fours might not whet everybody’s appetite, but they are the skill necessitated in this format – perhaps like tie-break specialists in tennis where ones with greater serves felt at ease.

It is still perhaps the best vehicle to take cricket to a larger audience globally even as the top nations struggle to be competitive. Even with many leagues and various strategies, the game throws up more surprises than a Dan Brown paper back.

The many positives T20 cricket has brought into the game cannot be ignored.

It cannot be forgotten that it has also made the game more popular and more expressive for players and the paying public; perhaps more convenient also for all parties concerned (administrators inclusive).

While the administrators and players playing the game have as much responsibility in keeping the sanctity of the game, so do the scribes and television broadcasters that bring the game to the many million living rooms of the games fans. The fans decide what they like to watch – some like more colour and grandeur, others intrigue and soberness, and some others both. It becomes the duty of the custodians of the game to ensure the fans of the game are not left cheated in the end – selling the game to corrupt and selfish officials, players and bookies.

If cricket is as much about bonding between players, back slapping in encouragement, swinging to the fences in need of quick runs and knocking down timber in need of wickets, dancing in the streets after a victory or buying the team a round of drinks at the end of a good day’s work, T20 cricket is all that as well.

Give credit where it is due. T20 cricket is here to stay.

This is a published article in Island Cricket


Goutham Chakravarthi

Though the rains in parts of Sri Lanka have been persistent, the tournament is finally gathering momentum with the beginning of Super Eight stages. Insofar only Afghanisthan added some colour to the tournament with their brand of brash and volatile cricket. Having seen a few of their players and staff at a restaurant in Colombo, they seemed to be thrilled to be a part of the tournament and seemed eager to do well.

Afghanistan’s progress has been rapid but, as has been seen in this tournament, their cricket still is raw and borders more on the emotional than on the rational. With time, the hope is that they improve their game whilst not losing the flair that has warmed the hearts of many who have seen them in this World Twenty20 tournament.

The heart-stopping tie that Sri Lanka eventually won in the super over is a reminder of the thrills T20 cricket can provide fans, spectators and players. Fists were seen pumping at the end by the batsmen in the middle and their teammates in the dug out. The next moment, the smiles were wiped off their faces when it turned out that New Zealand captain Ross Taylor had managed to knee a run-out off the last ball.

Akila Dananjaya impressed with his mixture of offies, leggies and googlies.

It was an evening where fortune changed sides more often than rains starting and stopping in the southern coasts of Sri Lanka. Taylor’s knee might have aided the match going in to the super over, it tested the umpires and players; and all will be glad for the experience, should they get in to a similar situation later in the tournament.

Earlier, Angelo Mathews and Ajantha Mendis had shaken off their injury scares to make it into the final XI. But the attention was on Akila Dananjaya once his name appeared in the starting line-up. His spin menu included flighted leg-breaks, googlies and offies. In short, it is enough to keep the English team up at night before their game against the Sri Lankans.

However, given the history of off-spinners from the sub-continent whose actions have often been scrutinised, Dananjaya’s might well be questioned.

The theory that established Test nations have worked out Mendis further gathered ground, as he was sent for 48 runs off his 4 overs — his worst T20 figures coming into the game. The theory that established Test nations have worked out Mendis further gathered ground, as he was sent for 48 runs off his 4 overs — his worst T20 figures. Mystery injuries have also clouded the career of this mystery spinner, and how much faith the Sri Lankan management has in him for future games remains to be seen.

Rangana Herath is a very fine bowler after all, and with Dananjaya holding his own even with the onslaught very much on, the management might be tempted to have the experienced Herath back in the team. With the pitch at Pallekelle offering more than enough turn, as was seen in Premadasa in the India-England game, it will not be a surprise to see more teams resorting to spin for both attack and defence.

The batting looked in rich form with Tillakaratne Dilshan finding fluency. Sri Lanka’s side is packed with several allrounders, so there is a school of thought — as Taylor pointed out — that they might lack batting depth and be too top heavy. So far, it has not proved to be a problem with the likes of Jeevan Mendis and Thisara Perera holding their own with the bat. Mathews has proved to be a reliable finisher and Lahiru Thirimanne is proving to be one of late as well.

West Indies and England are the other two teams in the group, and given England’s form against spin in the recent past and their form against India and West Indies, it will be a surprise if Sri Lanka do not find themselves in the semi-finals.

The objective would be to have peaked as a team by then and hope to have a couple of their match-winners in red-hot form. Sri Lanka have found themselves within reach of winning ICC tournaments many times in the recent past, and they will be one of the teams favoured to win.

Mahela Jayawardene’s men displayed the ability to handle the mental side of the game well in the super over finish today, and the hosts will hope to be at the finals this time too in order to have another crack at crossing the final hurdle.

This is a published article in Island Cricket.