First Impressions on Twenty20 Cricket

Posted: September 23, 2007 in Uncategorized

I was not taken in by the 20 overs cricket concept as I felt that this “slam-bam-thank you ma’am” format would just be festival cricket and no more. A combination of curiosity, media blitz and convenient timings ( 9.30 pm starts) got me viewing these games and after seeing a couple of these games, I can say that I am a convert of sorts.

I had felt this often about basketball games. That more often than not the two teams stay close to each other in scores over 3 quarters, and perhaps even a bit into the 4th. And that the game is finally decided in those last 5 min depending on which team plays a tighter game then. And I have wondered that the first 3 quarters are only charades. Why don’t they just start the game at 75-75 and play for just 15 min calling it the 4th quarter?!

Well twenty20 is that equivalent in cricket!

In normal 50 overs cricket you see an initial fast paced batting in the first ten overs, then some consolidation, wicket conserving and
soft pace setting over the next 30 overs before a final onslaught again in the last ten overs. Twenty20 cricket is all of the above but without those middle 30 overs! Like taking out the first 3 quarters of basketball!

You would think that it would basically be a batters game then. Yes it is so. But you still see some inspired bowling performances. Like R P Singh yesterday against South Africa. What the bowlers don’t have is the luxury to settle down to a line and length. They need to get it right from the first ball that they bowl. And the yorker is the ball to bowl, again from early indications. There is a huge flurry of sixers being hit (Yuvraj hit 6 in an over!!), so anything that is remotely short has a chance of being walloped over the ropes. The bowler’s best chance is to pitch it up and aim for the yorker. This is unlike the ODIs, where to some extent, short balls also work. Mainly because the batsman is more conscious about not losing his wicket – there may be another 20-25 overs to bat through there. Here, batsmen are far less concerned about their wicket, and in the interest of scoring, they are willing to sacrifice the wicket.

The fielding needs to be top class. On the ground and in catching as well. Dinesh Karthik took a catch yesterday that could be about as
good as any that I have seen taken on a cricket field!

On the batting front a team may always seem to ‘have a chance’. Even from 30 for 5, a team could potentially end up at a score of 150 and which could be defensible. After all the tail needs to wag only for say 5-10 overs which maybe they could manage, and in the process bang around a few runs as well.

I guess there is not so much established strategy to the game yet. The captains and the coaches are experimenting still. Like how to do the bowling changes (with just 4 overs max per bowler, how do you give the bowler multiple spells, for example!), or the batting order (every batter has to be potentially a pinch hitter…). The strategy will come as they play more and learn.

Those cliched statements of ‘the game is not over till the last ball is bowled’ or ‘the better team on the day will win’, are all the more true in this form of cricket. Australia lost to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka and South Africa both looked very good teams and both have not made it to the semis also. Being a short form game, one bad move can mean defeat as there is no room to wiggle out of a spot and recover. Which is why, established good teams could also end up losing.

From a spectator’s point of view, the format is good. In about 3 hours, you see the whole game and its all over..

And meanwhile from India’s point of view, Dhoni appears to be (touch wood and all that) a lucky captain so far. We have made it to the semi finals, although till date, we are amongst the least experienced Twenty20 sides.

Of course, it could be a ploy to ensure that the game becomes a hit in the largest paying market for the sport…

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Comments
  1. […] format, imbalance, IPL, postaday2011 0 Way back in 2007, when 20-20 started getting popular, I had shared my views on how I thought, cricket had finally found its perfect […]

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