Category Archives: T20

West Indies must champion their emotions

The main problem the West Indies will have going forward will not be relating to their ability but their ego and tendency to let their emotions take over 

Following their staggering display at the World T20, their squad is clearly clearly talented, unified and versatile on the field, but filled with insecurity and fervour to prove themselves off it.

No more so was this reflected than in a series of interviews after a miraculously successful and thrilling World T20 victory against England. 

Upon winning, the fact they had triumphed should have been front and centre, yet the leader of the side, captain Darren Sammy used his interviews to politicise the victory with the currency of West Indies Cricket Board politics. 

And, in-so doing, he showed a considerably disrespectful tone to the competition and the contest itself. 

Firstly, his interview didn’t acknowledge England, or really reflect on the nature of the victory.

He didn’t speak about the game itself, or the crowd largely made up of adoring Indian fans.

He congratulated his side, his staff behind, and then took the opportunity to lay into the board. 

He said “we felt disrespected by our board, Mark Nicholas described our team as a team with no brains. All these things before the tournament just brought this team together.”

He continued, that he was “yet to hear from our own cricket board. That is very disappointing.”

He apologised for the omission of England the next day, but his board comments landed him with a fine. 

Fresh from a tournament winning 85 off 66 balls, man of the match Marlon Samuels decided to follow suit.  

After snatching the microphone from Nasser Hussain he tore into Australian bowler Shane Warne, a long term personal and professional critic of the batsman. 

Marlon Samuels said: “I woke up this morning with one thing on my mind. Shane Warne has been talking continuously and all I want to say is ‘this is for Shane Warne’. 

He added “I answer with the bat, not the mic.” Except that’s exactly what you did Marlon.

Not satisfied with souring a post-match interview which should have been the happiest of his life, he continued his anti-Warne tirade later. 

He said in a press conference: “‘I don’t know why he talks this way about me. Maybe because my face is real and his face is not.”

In the same interview, he reacted to a fine he had been given by the ICC for spraying Ben Stokes with insults during the final over of the final. “Well he doesn’t learn,” Samuels said. “Because they keep telling him, whenever he plays against me (they say) ‘don’t speak to me, because I’m going to perform’. 

Samuels was by no means the only one. Stokes is alleged to have been party to this exchange, but at least after the game, Stokes tried to clear the air. Samuels went after him, and paid the price. 

And, West Indies coach Phil Simmons defended the remarks after the game, saying: “You can’t keep bashing people and not expect a backlash at some point,’ according to The Daily Telegraph.

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Stokes congratulating the West Indies on Twitter. Samuels hasn’t, and Sammy was late dot do so.

 

The coach, captain and senior batsmen led an example, of pettiness and the justification of personal attacks, even after a miraculous victory.

It’s a poor example of how a side should react to success, and how leaders should set the trend.

Going forward, Sammy and Samuels are not going to be there for a huge amount of time.

The next generation of West Indies leaders have an opportunity to continue success, but lose this pathetic emotional charade, and focus on winning tournaments. 

They are champions, but need to start acting like it.

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Why the hosts have ‘failed’ at the #Wt20

The lack of success for host nations at the World T20 shows more about the rapid evolution of the format, than the disadvantages of holding the tournament. 

There is no ‘reason’ as to why host nations fail at the World T20 (yet). It has been held all over the world, and all different teams have won it, which shows it’s a highly open and competitive tournament. 

There have been six winners since 2007. Two sub continental teams were victorious outside of the sub-continent, England won in the Caribbean and West Indies won in Sri Lanka and India.

Historically it is clear that host nations have not just failed, but they aren’t even within touching distance. Eight different teams have made it to the semi final stage, but only twice has a host nation made that grade (in 2012 and 2016).

This is a lesson however, not so much about the drawbacks of hosting necessarily but of the nature of the format and the tournament itself.

The reason host nations have struggled is because T20 has matured .

It developed as a format, negating teams home advantage. It’s no longer kamikaze hitting and headless fast bowling playing to the masses, nor is it a format which lends itself to teams be familiar with their conditions or surroundings.

It bleeds unpredictability and the possibility of anyone having success, which is a key reason as to why people love it so much now.  

This change has been driven by a bowling revolution.

Spin and pace off the ball is now king, and batsmen have not yet really adapted to this, wherever they’re from. 

In the top 15 bowlers with the ‘most wickets’ in World T20, eight are spinners: Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Ajentha Mendis, Shakib Al-Hasan, Nathan McCullum, Samuel Badree, Graeme Swann and and R Ashwin. 

Seven are seam bowlers: Lasith Malinga, Umer Gul, Dale Steyn, Stuart Broad, Morne Morkel, Dwayne Bravo and Shane Watson.

But, of the seven seamers, only three; Steyn, Broad and Morkel are ‘out and out’ quicks. And of these, Steyn only played two games in the World T20, taking one wicket (and didn’t play a T20I all of 2015) and Stuart Broad and Morne Morkel didn’t make their respective squads.

The remaining seamers use variations in pace and length as their staple, trying to prevent batsmen from getting in or become familiar with the game. The out-and-out quicks have largely been discarded.Wickets

The spinners have become especially potent, because they are not only wicket takers, but they are very economical. 

Much to the disbelief of those who thought T20 may decimate spinners, they have given their teams control.

Of the top 10 most economical bowlers in World T20 history, only one is a seam bowler; Angelo Mathews, and even he is a bowler who uses less pace than his contemporaries. 

Economy

The reality is, T20 cricket has evolved at a rapid rate, and batsmen haven’t quite kept up. 

Bowlers have taken the format by the scruff of the neck, and forced batsmen to create their own success if they want it. 

They have to create their pace on the ball, take risks at their own peril, because there are less ‘hit me’ bowlers. 

Pace has come off the ball, and as much predictability as possible has been sucked from the game. A non-spinning spinner opening the bowling with a new ball is a challenge to an India, an Australian or anyone. It’s a new and different challenge.  

Host nations have been failing because conventional factors like conditions and familiarity  that prepare sides for success in their own back yard are far less important. 

If and when a host nation wins in the future, it is not going to be because they play certain types of bowling well or are familiar with the pitches. It will be because they are ready for anything, and have the resources to tackle it. 

 

VIDEO: Two New Zealand batsmen smash fasted fifty record in same match

New Zealand’s top order were out-doing themselves to break records, with Martin Guptill setting the record for the fasted fifty, only for his team mate to re-smash that record shortly after.

Chasing just 142 against Sri Lanka on a tiny ground at Eden Park, Aukland, Martin Guptill opened the batting, blitzing 63 off 25 balls.

For a while, this was the quickest fifty in a T20I by a New Zealander.

But at 89-1, Colin Munro arrived at the crease, and decided Guptill had gone a bit slowly.

Smashing seven 6s and one 4, Munro cracked his unbeaten fifty in  just 14 balls.

 

Why we shouldn’t ‘move on’ from Gayle’s comments, until other players get the point

Sexism in sport, especially in ‘the gentleman’s game’ can be subtle, and hard to identify and root out.

It is especially hard to crack,if it is played down, justified or outright denied as having happened when it occurs. 

As a sports journalist, Mel McLaughlin was interviewing Chris Gayle about an innings he had played.

The response she received was contempt for her capacity as a reporter, as Gayle asked her out for a drink, before telling her ‘not to blush’; ignoring the cricketing question. 

Banter? Or disrespect? One thing is for sure, he thought he could get away with it.

As it was live on air, everyone saw it. It led to the West Indian opener being fined $10,000, and making a grovelling apology.

There was real no malice in the comment, but at the same time his apology is somewhat hollow.

He said it was ‘a simple comment, a joke’ that “wasn’t anything at all meant to be disrespectful or offensive”, showing he doesn’t understand that what he did was unprofessional at best, and sexist at worst.

There is a time and a place for flirting, and it isn’t during a live interview. I dread to think what he thinks he’s entitled to do off-air. 

Mel followed by accepting his apology, adding she wants to ‘move on.’

At which point, many took the opportunity to continue to play down Gayle’s comments. 

BBL commentator and ex-England star Andrew Flintoff began proceedings, by calling Gayle ‘a bit of a chop.’ 

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Before it’s time to ‘move on‘, nothing to see here.

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Other public figures trivialised the matter too.

Ireland’s Niall O’Brien said Gayle ‘asked a lady out for a drink live on TV’, whilst Paul Nixon, retweeted a comment that it was just ‘humour’ adding that people should ‘move on.’

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Then Aussie Hockey star Georgie Parker, and Piers Morgan, were both retweeted by Northants batsman, Josh Cobb.

Parker, instead of saying it’s wrong whoever does it’, ultimately says it’s better to try it herself out next time herself, to prove it’s OK when a woman does it too. 

Whilst Piers Morgan dismisses Gayle’s total lack of respect for a female journalist as ‘being a bit cheeky’.

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Following Parker’s comments, England women’s legend, Clare Connor, contributed something a little more thoughtful, outlining alleged double standards, which Parker was referring too.

Instead of just saying ‘I’ll do it too’, she raises the question of whether it’s right. 

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Cobb, then adds that he needed a little explanation.

Maybe he should get in touch with Clare Connor for a lesson?Screenshot 2016-01-08 11.26.27.png

Ex-England allrounder Adam Hollioake said ‘you can’t have it both ways’. Chris Gayle is a bit of a character, therefore it’s OK for him to be unprofessional and ridicule a woman interviewer.

I guess women should just put up with this type of humiliation? It’s just banter after all.. move on, move on,

Screenshot 2016-01-08 11.18.04

What he doesn’t get, is that it isn’t about a lynchmob baying for justice.

It’s about other professional cricketers saying ‘this isn’t acceptable’,  and setting an example.

Like the ever-reliable Chris Rogers, who said:

“From my time at the Thunder [with Gayle] I was very disappointed with his attitude and his behaviour, and I’ve not been a fan since.

People see these one-offs, but this is a pattern of behaviour. If you know the guy, you see it over and over. To defend it, I think, is not right at all.

I listen to that and I don’t think it’s funny at all – he says it’s just a joke, well it’s not just a joke, is it?

And Waqar Younis and Shoaib Malik:

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And ex-Kiwi bowler, Iain O’Brien:

Whilst it may be the case that what Gayle said was nothing demonstrably spiteful, the lengths others are going to excuse it is baffling, as it’s ultimately the root of the issue.

For that reason, Gayle should not be made a scapegoat. He shouldn’t be banned, and a fine was a both symbolic and a pittance. 

There needs to be a more fundamental approach that challenges a culture in a male-dominated sport. 

The wise head of Harsha Bogle perhaps summed it up best:

Screenshot 2016-01-09 14.53.31

Why England should consider recalling Kevin Pietersen for the World T20

Kevin Pietersen has been in the international wilderness since 2014, but there are sound reasons to give him one last hurrah.

In 2016, the ICC World T20 will be held, and it would be a perfect opportunity to both patch up relations with England’s highest run-scorer, whilst squeezing that last bit of juice out of him.

On a basic level, it’s no secret that Pietersen has experience and quality that would be beneficial for England.

He is not only England’s leading run-scorer in all formats combined , but in T20 cricket, he is England’s second top run scorer.

Of course, it would be odd if someone with that quality wasn’t already selected.

The reasons he was omitted from the side still remain somewhat a mystery. But, what is clear, is that issues which were the cause, have largely been removed or changed.

The coach is different, various players who had friction with him have retired. And, If Pietersen were to return, it wouldn’t be long term thing anyway.

He wouldn’t be back to the Test or ODI side. It would be a short-term deal to help England at the World T20, which when England won in 2010, he was the man of the tournament.

Another important factor, is that it’s in India, not only because of his time at IPL, which he has been a part of in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014, but also because of his success there for England.

He has played nine Tests in India, including four in 2012, in which he scored two incredible and match-winning centuries.

He knows the conditions, how to attack and score runs against spin, and the crowds like him too, which is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Unlike most opposition batsmen who receive a deathly silence and an empty stadium, Indians flock to see KP, because he is an entertainer.

That would help England.

These factors add to the benefit his overall knowledge of the format would bring.

In 2015 alone, he played in the Ram Slam in South Africa in which he was the second top run scorer, the Caribbean Premier League, in which he was in the top 10 run scorers, the Big Bash, in which he was third top run-scorer, and which he helped his side get to the final. He recently signed up to the Pakistan Super League too.

So, why would he fit back in just this once?

England have a new coach. Andy Flower is gone, and the new man, Trevor Bayliss is a Pietersen-type coach.

He has given ‘Ben Stokes a licence to play his natural game‘ which is in the vein of KP’s, whilst also moving the aggressive left hander back up to number six, after time spent at seven and eight.

Bayliss is also more of a background coach. He isn’t a pencil pusher and clipboard-holder, a dictator.

In October, Alastair Cook credited Bayliss for his improvement as England captain, saying: “He’s a really relaxed guy, he lets the captain run the side and that is one of the big differences from the other guys.”

And, Bayliss’s recall of James Taylor, Nick Compton, Jonny Bairstow, Garry Ballance and selection of Adil Rashid, all shows a willingness to try something different, whether new or old.

England’s T20 side is jam-packed with young players, who lack experience.

 In 2015, in the overall list of run scorers in T20 Internationals, the highest England run scorer was Eoin Morgan at number 38. This is due to such a low number of games (just four) played by England internationally.

They need someone to shepherd them. There are very few senior leaders, or players with the experience and hunger that Pietersen still has. Reselecting him for one last time could be a stroke of genius.

He could marshall a young side, in an unfamiliar format, in foreign conditions and with nothing to lose.

There’d be no prospect of a long term impact on the side or interference in other formats. It’s a cricketing one-night-stand.

More than anything, as a fan, this could ensure that one of England’s greatest ever batsmen does not depart the game with the bitter taste of regret, but the sweet one reconciliation and perhaps even success.

And, it sounds like he’s up for it…

The witch hunt against spinners reflects insecurity in T20

Over the last few years, there has been an ongoing witch hunt against spinners with suspect actions, and its time some consideration was given to the agenda that drives it.

The official party line is that the ICC are cracking down on bowlers with suspect actions because it is part of the rules of the game. They are just doing their job. Just following orders.

Cricket has now got three raging formats, the newest of which being Twenty20 (T20).

It is the double expresso, to the steady Americano, Test cricket.

When it first emerged, many saw the big bats, short boundaries and high intensity, and thought that it would simply destroy spin.

Nobody really considered that it may become a format where slower bowlers could thrive. Looking back, it is amazing it took almost a decade for mystery spinners, and fast bowlers that variate well, to really excel.

The T20 machine that is projected onto the global audience is one of being a batsman’s game, undoubtably.

The hard hats, the six cards, the crowd catching rewards. It’s all the batsman.

Yet, today, International cricket has many spinners that have had incredible success in T20. They  get attention, sure. But why are they now getting the ICC’s attention, for their actions? Many of these bowlers have been around for 10 or 15 years, and have had nothing.

The current ICC T20 International bowling rankings prove that the plan hasn’t quite worked.

Seven spinners in the top 10. Eight of the current ICC ranked bowlers between 10-20 are also spinners.

It’s flooded.  Saturated with slow bowlers.

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But it isn’t even just International cricket. Even in the IPL, three of the five highest wicket takers to date are spinners too. 

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The cynical traditional cricket fan inside says that this was never the intention for T20. The even more pessimistic and doubtful voice says that the ICC are now trying to put brakes on the situation.

The rules of the game outline that bowlers are allowed a 15 degree flex of permissible straightening of the elbow joint for all bowlers in international cricket.

Spinners with questionable actions, i.e. those that flex more than 15 degrees, can generate huge amounts of turn, both ways. It allows variation, but more importantly, pressure.

In 2013, the ICC released an 18 page document called ‘ICC Regulations for the Review of Bowlers Reported with Suspected Illegal Bowling Actions‘. It goes into great detail with regards to the process for reporting suspect bowlers. Although it outlines that umpires still have access to the right to call illegal actions; now it will be much more official. There will be greater ICC involvement and more use of technology, to really snuff out those responsible.

The ICC, currently chaired by former BCCI chairman N. Srinivasan, is the same ICC that failed to achieve consensus regarding the use of Umpire’s Decision Review System due to opposition by BCCI on grounds of a lack of faith in technology.

But of course, when it comes to suspect actions, technology is a must. Anything to ensure that T20 remains a game in their control.

It may be less humiliating for bowlers to be probed in a lab for a suspect action than to be called on the field in front of thousands,  but in terms of effectiveness, it is far potent.

As bowlers are now less likely to be called on field, they will be more thoroughly checked off it. It is going to be more rigorous and official process, enforced without time limits, or the possibility of having an impact on the game that it allegedly occurs in.

Whereas nobody questions the 15 degree rule as long as it is in place;, it is arguably the case that there is an agenda behind this witch hunt.

In International cricket, even bowlers with an illegal action are still massively under pressure in a batsmen dominated game.

In limited overs cricket T20 cricket, the bats are bigger than ever, the boundaries are in, the field restrictions are on, even the ball is now harder than before, because there are two new cherries from each end.

Every element of the game is geared towards big hits, and big totals.

A world class spinner would go and ruin that.

Whether its a big time bowler like Saeed Ajmal or a part timer like Kane Williamson, there is a clear new discourse.

There is nowhere to hide. It doesn’t matter if you are a big spinner or a small spinner. You are a suspect. Spinning as a art, is now suspect.

As skilful as mystery spin is to watch on TV, it has the potential to remove the entertainment factor of T20 that the administrators crave.

The big hitting.

If it can be sufficiently stigmatised and criticised, then the onslaught against mystery spin may be able to embed a high sense of insecurity for spinners in the International game.

Sooner or later, orthodoxy may reign once more, for the sake of T20.

 

Mankading For Dummies – Law and Spirit

Confused by Mankading?

Is all you get when searching it this man?

Mankad

Vinoo Mankad [Swag]

Don’t worry. I will explain everything.

“What is it?”

Good question. It’s really simple. Mankading refers to running out the non striking batsman.

Before the ball has been bowled, the non striker backs up [runs a few yards extra]; to get a head start for a run. This means they often leave their crease early, and can thus be run out.

Bowlers don’t like this, so they sometimes do this:

Other cricketers don’t go as far as actually doing it, but merely taunt the batsman to know they can do it. Thanks Chris..

 

Thanks Chris.

Is it legal to do this?

Kind of yes. Oh allright, completely yes.

The ICC’s playing regulation 42.11, which replaces Law 42.15 in international cricket, states:

“The bowler is permitted, before releasing the ball and provided he has not completed his usual delivery swing, to attempt to run out the non-striker.”

The ICC essentially run the game’s playing regulations, although the MCC are of course responsible for making the actual laws and spirit of the game. The MCC states the run out attempt must come before the bowler enters his delivery stride.

In other words, according to the ICC it must be before the action is completed. According to the MCC before the stride has started.

If we play by the laws of the game made hundreds of years ago, Mankading should be hard to do, but if by the current playing regulations, it should happen lots and lots.

The ICC [who run the modern playing regulations, like fielding restrictions etc] allow it to come any time before the bowler completes his “delivery swing”, whatever that means.

So what’s the problem then!?

Well you see there is this mystical thing called the spirit of cricket.

It’s kind of like the ghost of christmas past; except it actually does have a tangeble effect on how players play.

The spirit of cricket implies sportsmanship, and a way to play the game.

For some, Mankading is against the spirit of cricket, because the batsman leaves the crease inadvertently. They aren’t trying to steal a run. Except they are. That’s exactly what they’re doing.

This is going through your head now?  [Via  ]

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It basically allows the batsman to have a head start for a run, whilst the bowler is not allowed a to overstep. And it is presented as sportsmanship NOT to run them out.

Maybe we have just been getting it wrong all along? [Via  ]

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In reality, it has been going on for a long time.

In more modern terms, it was ignited as an issue of ‘sportsmanship’ when India toured Australia in 1947 and the man at the top [Vinoo Mankad] did it to Bill Brown.

Don Bradman defended him.

In his autobiography, Don Bradman said the following:

“For the life of me, I can’t understand why [the press] questioned his sportsmanship. The laws of cricket make it quite clear that the nonstriker must keep within his ground until the ball has been delivered. If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early, the nonstriker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage.”

But some, such as Piers Morgan says that it is not a legitimate way of dismissal as it is against the spirit.

So.. who’s side are you on?

The Don? Or Piers Morgan

Michael Clarke was certainly happy to say that it is a legitimate dismissal:

Although England’s captain, Alastair Cook continued to moan and groan:

Bearing in mind things like playing leg side shots, bowling bouncers, and even bowling over arm, back in the day; were once considered as ‘unsportsmanlike’, maybe it’s time to move on?

Maybe it should be used more widely, and made a more conventional way of getting a batsman out. If batsmen insist on running down the pitch and getting a head start, it should be at their own peril.

By @jackmendel4

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