ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 16, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 16

Keep it to a minimum

The T20 World Cup has got underway. In terms of cricket, spectator and viewer interest there is more than its share of entertainment. Sports requires huge sums of money. Cricket, until Kerry Packer came along and revolutionized the game, did not boast of big money. But the Packer series, with day/night games and coloured clothing, changed the game completely.

Mohamed Ashraful

Malcolm Speed the present ICC Secretary, will similarly be remembered, as the person who has done everything possible to swell the coffers of the governing body. Although he has not been the most popular figure with some selectors of people, he has been successful in his mission to raise big money.

This T20 World Cup is one such event. In developing the skills of the game this ultra short version does nothing. The bowlers are on a hiding to nothing. Even good deliveries get slogged to all parts of the ground. The pitches are prepared to make life easy for the batsmen. Scoring runs and scoring them quickly is the name of this game.There are batsmen who revel in this type of game. To score runs consistently is not easy because of the chances taken. There is no case of waiting for the loose delivery. Anything that seems to have half a chance of dispatching has to be made use of. Innovative strokes have to be played. Plenty of reverse sweep shots have been played already in this tournament. One aspect of the game is that will get better is the running between wickets. Stealing singles, turning one’s into two’s and two’s into three’s become essential to squeeze out every possible run.

The innings played by Chris Gayle in the opening game was something extra special. It was a combination of cultured cricket stocks and raw aggression. In the process he became the first player to score a century in T20 internationals and also hit the most number of sixes in an innings. Most of those hits went well into the stands, demonstrating the power of his strokes.

With the fall of Gayle the West Indians faltered and faltered and became the first team to be eliminated from the competition. A score of over two hundred is an extremely good total and to chase that many is a very tough ask. Of course the West Indians made it easy for the South Africans by bowling as many as twenty three wides! A total lack of discipline and it caused their downfall. Herchele Gibbs may not have been able to match the effort of Gayle but his 90 not out guided his team to a very big victory.

Chris Gayle was dismissed for a duck two days later and his team mates could muster of 164 runs in twenty overs. Left armer Syed Rusel dismissed Gayle and finished with figures of 4-1-10-1. Excellent in this form of the game. Then Mohamed Ashraful provided the fireworks. He is another player who will revel in this form of the game.

England got off to a good start against Zimbabwe who only the previous day created the first major upset by defeating the Australians. Kevin Pietersen’s 79 off 37 deliveries was the highlight of the game. Yet another player who will enjoy T20 batting. England have been playing a lot of cricket recently, being their summer and their performances in one day cricket has improved rapidly. They still lack experience in the bowling department. Yet they could be considered the dark horse to go all the way in this tournament!

Fielding, as with all limited games will play a very vital part. Sri Lanka, Australia and South Africa have the best fielding outfits and they will carry that advantage. Sri Lanka will depend on brisk scoring rather than big hitting. That is their method of playing and they should stick with it. Sanath Jayasuriya who is the big hitter has a big role to play. Should he bat the twenty overs or a majority of it then Sri Lanka must surely win.

It is certainly good to watch. Batsmen will play strokes that they may never have played before. Bowlers with great reputations will be made to look small. Fielders will bring off breathtaking catches and saves, All a great spectacle.

The spectators will be forever absorbed. The dancing girls will have so much of work to do. It is non-stop action. Indications are that the ICC and the South Africans have got it right with the organizations. The more competitive games should be from this weekend. Still it is too early to predict a winner. The teams are still finding their way around. The Australians certainly are! Once it is all over, it will be time to take stock and work out how much of T20 should be played. My thinking is “keep it to a minimum”

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