Thursday, September 13, 2007
I spoke too soon!
So the Aussies are human: they lost a few early wickets and panicked. Then they came out and bowled fast and furious in the early overs, rather than intelligently. They set that right quickly though, shortening their length and immediately putting the Zims in trouble. Ponting also played without a third slip when the best way to win was to take wickets. I also wonder, with hindsight I admit, if he got it wrong after the break. Should he have risked using a slow bowler like Hodge or let Symonds bowl his full quota? Should he have continued the short-of-length barrage at least from one end to try and pick up one or two more wickets before the batsmen could get back into their groove? It underlines the role of the captain, which seems even more vital in this form of cricket, because one wrong move can make the difference with so little time to recover. Anyway, Zimbabwe pulled off a fantastic victory over the world champs, although they almost messed it up at the end. I thought the Zimbabwe coach, who told his batsmen that all they should aim for is one boundary per over and four or five singles, was a little too cool. Taylor followed that advice to the T, but with Lee and Bracken bowling a few too many dot ball yorkers, it meant an asking rate of 12 in the last over. That was uncalled for because with five wickets in hand, they could have improvised and taken more risks in the earlier three overs which yielded just 5, 6 and 6. Luckily, Ponting made a final error - he pushed fine leg back, but placed him too square to cut off the four leg-byes off the penultimate ball. Good stuff. Am I glad I disregarded my own advice (in the previous post) to not bother watching one-sided encounters involving the minnows because I thought they would have even less of a chance in T20s than in one-day cricket! But I get the reason now why T20s can cause more upsets. There's just too little scope to recover if a bunch of wickets fall, and it's very difficult to bowl even a relatively weak side out in 20 overs. This however bolsters my other argument, also made in a previous post, that T20 might be better to watch than 50-50. I mean it was getting boring to see the Aussies winning everything. T20 brings a little more uncertainty into the result, and that is one of cricket's enduring charms. So, while Test cricket will remain the only true form of the game for me, because there's a fair contest between bat and ball and more parameters at play, I think T20 is just as good as one-day cricket. Both are oriented towards attacking batsmen and defensive bowling, but T20 does away with the boring middle overs and has the potential to spring more surprises. Having said that, I still feel having so many minnows in the fray spoil the World Cup. The Kenya match was drab, and Scotland allowed Pakistan to get away with an easy victory in spite of making early inroads into the Pak batting. If the likes of Zimbabwe knock out a couple of the top teams, the next stage of the championship will be diminished by one-sided matches, just like in the one-day World Cup. The trouble is a team like Zimbabwe can cause the odd upset but cannot sustain that performance in the next round of matches. Or have I spoken too soon again?