Category: Extras (page 3 of 36)

Four things we learned from the 2016 World T20

We could have done more than four, but the article was starting to look a bit long so we just arbitrarily drew a line under things. It’s not even the best four. It’s just the first four that came to mind.

Darren Sammy can channel energy

Marlon’s upset with Shane Warne, Chris is upset because he got told off, everyone’s upset with the West Indies Cricket Board and with Mark Nicholas for saying they were short of brains. ‘Good,’ says Darren Sammy. ‘Use that.’

The Windies captain even managed to convince his side that the world was against them when they were playing England in the final and the cricket world was therefore most definitely with them.

Quarter finals aren’t for cricket

Upsets are still possible when international cricket tournaments have quarter finals, but when a sport generally has precisely eight teams that are noticeably stronger than the others, whittling the contenders down to eight doesn’t tend to deliver much in the way of jeopardy or excitement.

This tournament, which went straight from the group stage to semi-finals, had a much better way of doing things. It meant the first phase of the tournament had actual hard-to-predict knockout matches.

The bigger the match, the more likely it is that a bit of part-time dob will buy you a wicket

Joe Root’s part-time offspin, while not technically dob, accounted for both of West Indies’ openers in the space of just three balls in the final. Virat Kohli’s rather more classical dob also reaped instant dividends in the semi.

Dob is much undervalued in professional cricket. Bowl it in the County Championship and there’s no real danger, but in a high pressure Twenty20 match, the batsman feels compelled to hit out. All that talk of targeting weaker bowlers means that when a captain brings on Alan McMilitary-Straight-Up-And-Down the batsman feels compelled to maximise his return on the next six deliveries. As often as not, this seems to involve him skying the first one to an outfielder.

There’s more than one way to win a Twenty20 match

Maybe this could replace that famous cat-skinning saying, which after all isn’t really very nice. A lot of people like to assume that whoever’s won a given Twenty20 match must therefore be playing the best ‘brand’ of cricket, but it’s clear from this tournament that all any result really means is that the victors were playing their brand of cricket better than the opposition were playing theirs.

New Zealand duffled – yes, duffled – their way through a series of matches by smothering the opposition with an endless rotation of spinners; England tried to score as fast as they could throughout their innings in the knowledge that there were always more batsmen to come; and The Windies dawdled about and then hit sixes. All were perfectly viable ways of setting about things. One day you could be watching Joe Root or Virat Kohli winning a match by refusing to face a single dot ball. The next day, Marlon Samuels faces 21 of them and the West Indies still win.


Where do things stand in the World T20?

Don’t know. New Zealand are yet to make any runs and yet have won both games, the Windies are also unbeaten, while everyone else has lost at least once.

England looked like the England of old in their first match. South Africa failed to defend a million. Sri Lanka have seemingly forgotten how to play cricket. India were skittled. Bangladesh and Afghanistan are yet to trouble the scorers.

Pakistan are a notch up from where they’ve been in recent months, which puts them at notch one. Australia actually won today, but still did a passable impression of losing for a portion of the game (which is no mean feat when they basically won easily).

It’s all been rather fun and with less than half the teams going through to the next round, there’s an unusual hint of jeopardy about proceedings. It all seems too good to be true.

They’re not even playing the final on a Monday lunchtime like they did in 2007. It’s on a Sunday. An actual weekend day. Like in a proper tournament in a normal sport.


What is pre-qualifying?

We’ve seen a number of people this week referring to the first phase of the World T20 as ‘pre-qualifying’. The word they are looking for is of course ‘qualifying’.

Yes, it takes place before the tournament – or pre-tournament if you will – but that’s what qualifying is. It’s qualifying for the tournament. You can’t really carry it out afterwards. The only way that could happen is if the ICC got its way and a new format saw no-one go through. At that point it wouldn’t really be qualifying at all though, would it – what with no-one qualifying and all?

So qualifying has to happen pre-tournament and even if there were another phase before it, that would still be a form of qualifying – it would just be a different phase of a larger qualification process.

So if you want to add an unnecessary prefix, why not go for post- instead? You could legitimately call the tournament proper ‘post-qualifying’ if you wanted. You’ll sound like an idiot at first, but it’ll soon catch on.


We wouldn’t call ourself a staunch defender of Twenty20 cricket but…

We were going to draw together a bunch of our articles about the nature of Twenty20 cricket for today’s update as a kind of ‘easy win’. However, when we started searching the site to put this together, we discovered we already had such a thing.

Hurray! Even easier win!

Then we looked at what was included and a lot of it was dated. Much as we’re all still fascinated by Rob Key chucking his bat on Twenty20 Finals Day in 2007, other stuff seemed of less interest, so we tried to sort it out. This took ages.

So here you go. It may look like little more than a list of links relating to Twenty20 cricket, but there’s stuff in the articles themselves should you click those links.

Failing that, follow this one. It’s about Twenty20 cricket darts.

 


A mankad prevents batsmen from taking the piss

Before the Asia Cup qualifying round, the Asian Cricket Council is said to have met with the four Associate teams and told them not to mankad. Oman’s Aamir Kaleem was having none of it. He did for Hong Kong’s Mark Chapman in precisely that manner. Oman won.

There’s now been a suggestion that teams playing in the first round of the World T20 – other than Oman – have agreed not to mankad. This way anarchy lies.

When asked about the Kaleem-Chapman incident the other day, Ireland captain Will Porterfield said: “That is not something that we will be doing.”

So there’s a clear message to opposition batsmen: Stroll down the pitch as far as you like. Do it every ball. There is nothing Ireland are going to do to stop you.

Because that’s what the mankad is. It’s maybe not a mode of dismissal to celebrate, but to condone it is to overlook its purpose. It’s one of the necessary checks and balances that keeps batsmen from taking the piss. It’s the community policing itself because even minor crimes need a deterrent.

 


We wrote about what some other people wrote on Twitter

It’s a harder task than you might imagine. The spoils of our long hours of trawling are over at Cricinfo.

Nando’s Watch is back by popular request and there’s also a bit about Danny Morrison.

We love Danny Morrison and his unrelated-bullet-points style of communication. It’s good to see he’s much the same on Twitter.


How will BBC website’s Cricket World Cup highlights work?

If you haven’t heard, the BBC’s secured the rights to publish video highlights of Cricket World Cups on its website. As with most things in our life, we can’t tell whether this is hugely significant or neither here nor there.

The way it’s described, it sounds like short video clips will be an add-on to other web content. A video of all the wickets to have fallen might accompany a match report or a particularly unusual shot might appear within ball-by-ball coverage.

At the same time, the BBC’s apparently allowed to show video clips of up to six minutes per hour of play. For a one-day international – which is what, seven or eight hours – that amounts to a fair chunk of footage. Throw in a bit of punditry and you could make an actual programme out of that. Could such a thing appear on the iPlayer?

Either way, it seems like a good development. We always think that cricket is a sport that lends itself particularly well to highlights. Even live coverage relies heavily on replays of the meaningful bits played between balls, overs and sessions.

In many ways this deal means the BBC will be able to offer the full ‘not really watching but looking up when something happens’ experience.


Why Test cricket is not about runs

wicket

Pit the same two teams against each other in different places or in different weather and you’ll get a different match. This is what makes Test cricket more intriguing than the upside-down picture of a crow with human legs in our local pub.

With such breadth comes varying levels of entertainment though. Efforts should be made to ensure Tests are played in different conditions to ensure that variety persists but some types of matches are quite simply more exciting than others. Sri Lanka v India at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in 2010 was an example of a poor Test. Good players, skilled cricket, but when both teams declare, something has gone awry (okay, India didn’t actually declare, but it was hardly because they were skittled).

Compare that Test to the low-scoring thriller played out between Pakistan and Australia at Headingley a week before. That’s the kind of cricket that grabs us by the nostril hairs and yanks them repeatedly. It was impossible to ignore.

Runs and entertainment

Test attendances throughout the world are poor but a lot of Tests are poor too. Where run scoring is high, excitement is often low.

Perhaps some fundamental confusion has been brought about by one-day cricket and Twenty20. In these formats runs are all that’s needed for victory. You certainly need runs in a Test, but wickets are the meaningful currency. If wickets aren’t falling in the longest format, you’re not actually getting any nearer a result and the whole spectator experience hinges on that.

Declarations remain too common. In our opinion, a Test match should be about how many runs a team can score, not how many a team chooses to score. With swing and seam at Headingley, runs suddenly had more value. Rather than being methodically amassed and stockpiled, they were sought out like a valuable commodity. Singles mattered, twos were vital and boundaries were priceless. With runs worth more, field settings were more important. Most importantly of all, bowlers were a source of entertainment, rather than mere conveyor belts bearing sustenance for the batsmen.

When every aspect of the game has greater meaning, the viewing experience is intensified.

The value of a run

In that match, pretty much every ball was worth watching. You didn’t just think: “Partnership building here. I’ll pop out for a few hours and see if a wicket’s fallen when I get back.” If you went out at some point during Pakistan v Australia, you could have missed a match-winning, counterattacking hundred partnership or a whole innings. The game would have moved on. You’d have actually missed something.

An innings of 500 is not five times as exciting as one of 100. A target’s a target, so in reality they’re equally exciting. You could argue that a corollary of this is that each run is only one fifth as exciting in the high scoring match because it’s only one fifth as important. In the highly unlikely event that Test cricket pitches were consistently made a little more challenging for batsmen, maybe people would be five times as interested in each day’s play.

That’s a ludicrous statement statement, of course – but might there not be a sufficient rise in public interest to make up for the likely loss of a great many fifth days? What’s so great about day five anyway? A Test never ends in a draw on any of the first four days.

This post is an updated version of an article which first appeared on the website of what was then The Wisden Cricketer in July 2010. It has since been deleted, which is why we’re republishing it here.


Happy birthday to King Cricket

One of our old logos.

One of our old logos.

Our first reader got in touch with us this week – a man who once went by the name of The Scientician. Some of you may remember him from his shocking exposé of Jaffa Cakes as a sports snack.

The Scientician pointed out to us that we’re 10. We don’t mean in the ‘your mental age is 10’ kind of way – although people do say that kind of thing to us as well.

No, he meant that this website is ten. We started it in January 2006 (albeit at a different web address). That’s ten years ago. The site’s so old that people actually arrived at it via Ask Jeeves.

As The Scientician said in a follow-up email, which we’ll reproduce in full.

“Time…”

He’s got a point. On this domain alone, there’s been over 3,000 posts, over 40,000 comments and well over a million deleted spam comments (genuinely). We also knocked out over a thousand posts on the old Blogspot site in little more than a year. Them were the days.

So how did it all begin?

Er, we’re not entirely sure actually.

We’ve a vague notion that we’d sent The Scientician an email, or quite possibly even an actual letter, and that this had led him to utter the immortal words: “You should write.”

We’ve no real memory of what that particular missive was about. We’re pretty sure it included curlews, but beyond that it’s anyone’s guess. The important thing is that he told us to write and we listened to him.

We asked what we should write and where. He told us to start a website because that was what someone semi-famous had done and they’d got a job out of it.

So we started a website and soon enough we got a job and arguably even what passes for a career out of it.

The end.

Except it isn’t, because we’re just going to carry on the same as always.


A Nightwatchman for Christmas?

Send him in. Let him weather the marketing and do all the preparations and cooking. Then you can just swan in on Boxing Day to eat leftovers and get drunk.

No, this is Nightwatchman with an upper-case N. The Wisden cricket quarterly is doing gift packages.

If you don’t know what it’s all about, they’ve helpfully provided a few samples – a Select XI to be precise.

The point is that it’s cricket writing that isn’t so time-sensitive. They’re longer musings on the game and its effect on people. The samples include a piece by Gideon Haigh about cricket writing and a piece about the psyche of the nightwatchman (lower-case N) by Jon Hotten.

There’s also a poignant piece by our friend Sam Collins about making his film Death of a Gentleman while simultaneously trying to cope with the slow death of his mother. We knew that this was the backdrop to the film for Sam, but having read the piece we might now go and watch it again with that in mind. We daresay the whole thing’ll take on a different hue.

Each year’s Nightwatchman is £30, but if you put in the code XMAS15 you can get the 2015 Collection for £25 plus postage and packing.


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