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Virat Kohli is not a bowler, Lendl Simmons is not out, Andre Russell is not suspended

India became so utterly convinced of Virat Kohli’s Midas touch that they gave him an over with the ball. He took a wicket with his first ball. That was the point where they should probably have drawn a line under things. Instead, Kohli came back to bowl the final over with the West Indies needing eight to win.

Is wishful thinking a legitimate way to decide on bowling changes with the outcome of a World T20 semi-final at stake? Andre Russell hit a four and a six.

It has to be said, Andre Russell hit the ball very hard throughout. Watching him employ his giant muscles – which may or may not have been naturally produced (we don’t know which, because he doesn’t take dope tests) – it was easy to see how a soupcon of extra power can help make small gaps larger.  At the other end, Lendl Simmons repeatedly walked on and off the pitch after succumbing to three non-dismissals. Clearly aware that it was his day, he hit 83 somehow-not-out off 51 balls.

In addition to Kohli’s dreamlike batting and the West Indies’ crunching boundary-hitting, there was plenty of the truly entertaining stuff – you know, missed run-outs (including two off one ball), dismissals off no-balls, catches that turn out to be sixes and overthrows. Top stuff everyone. More of this kind of thing.

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If we start calling Jason Roy a ‘roybot’ do you think it’ll catch on?

Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes were the actual heroes for England, but this is Twenty20, so like everyone else, let’s instead turn our attention to Jason Roy – a batsman.

Roy used both edges of his bat and quite often the middle. Crucially, he also abandoned the moronic belief that it is somehow beneficial for the side that he play himself in and started hitting from what some people call ‘the get-go’ but which we, as a Briton, call ‘the outset’.

Turns out Roy doesn’t need to give himself time. Maybe he is a robot – a roybot, if you will.

Roy’s approach achieves two things. It means England score a bunch of runs and it also means the batsmen who come after him can play with a modicum of control. Not that they necessarily do. When the adrenaline’s pumping, it can be hard to deliberately take singles.

They got enough of them though (plus a few boundaries). They’re into the World T20 final.

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Eoin Morgan and Kane Williamson are having a cricket

We find ourself humming Roscoe H Spellgood rather a lot at the minute. This is because of the sheer number of match previews saying that England have come a long way in a short time.

It strikes us that if you go to the trouble of being as bad as England were at the 50-over World Cup, you do leave yourself plenty of room for improvement. What would be truly miraculous would be a half-decent team improved by a similar amount.

So of course England bounced back. Not to disregard the strides they’ve made, but it would have been an even more extraordinary feat to have remained as bad as they were. It would arguably have constituted art. A complete rejection of the surrounding world in favour of a private exploration of inadequacy.

However, after a giddy, sugar-crazed run-chase against South Africa and two shonky wins against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, things now get tough for England. New Zealand are unbeaten and seem like one of the few sides in this tournament unconcerned by how anyone else might be approaching the game. They’ve their own methodology and they’re happy with it.

England’s strategy is simple, even if they do occasionally forget it. They ease their batting aggression slider over further than anyone else would have it in the knowledge that they have more batsmen than anyone else. They then try and bowl tight, and when that doesn’t work, they inject a bit of chaos and try and buy a wicket. It’s nice. At least nowadays they have a plan to try and be better than the opposition. Previously they just aimed to be average and were baffled when that wasn’t enough.

New Zealand, by contrast, seemingly have a multitude of plans. McCullum’s side were a bit one-note, but Kane Williamson has thus far kept the positivity while adding a few more options in terms of how they go about things. It’s worked well for them so far, but we suppose only having one note to play can also bring clarity. Doubt can arise from having choices as much as from lack of faith in your own ability.

That last point seems like the kind of thing we should expand upon, but instead we’re going to slam on the brakes and bring the article to a grinding, unsatsifactory halt.

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When it comes to Virat Kohli, object to the hero worship, not the hero

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Perspective is rarely so absent as in the immediate aftermath of a successful Indian run chase. Even so, the plaudits for Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 82 off 51 against Australia were… let’s go with ‘fulsome’.

Fox Sports called him an ‘absolute freak’ because a freak’s a good thing these days.  Sourav Ganguly said the batsman was the ‘greatest chaser by far’.

Alex Hales described the innings as ‘different level,’ while Michael Vaughan was one of many to call him a genius – although being Michael Vaughan he did it with a hashtag.

On Twitter, the general public had some sort of ‘All-Time Most Hyperbolic Hyperbole In History… EVER’ competition – although most people just went with ‘too good’ because most people are crap at hyperbole and instead just repeat things they’ve heard other people say.

Interestingly, Shah Rukh Khan called him ‘a very well-mannered kid’ which basically sounds like a diss when set against everything else. Amitabh Bachchan did better. He said Kohli had been ‘brilliance times infinity’.

Cricinfo tapped into the general mood with an article entitled ‘Emotional’ Kohli rates Mohali knock his best, based on a quote from the post-match presentation when he evalutated his innings thus: “It certainly has to be in the top three. Probably the top right now, because I’m a bit emotional.”

Odd that it should be Kohli himself who should identify that lack of perspective.

Kohli is an extremely effective T20 batsman. Websites that can be bothered will give you the stats should you require them. However, he’s not as good as all of the above gushing might imply, for the simple reason that no-one is and no-one ever has been.

Your response to it may therefore be to roll your rheumy, jaundiced old eyes and yearn to see Virat taken down a peg or two. But that’s probably not fair. Whisper it, but Virat Kohli’s basically all right.

The rage!

As we’ve mentioned before, no-one on earth is as enraged by their own sporting success as Kohli. It’s as if he concluded that human emotions were an on-field distraction and after paring them all back found he still needed to retain one to function with rage being all that remained.

Opposition batsman acting up: anger. Opposition batsman behaving himself: anger. Guilty of throwing away his wicket via a stupid shot: anger. Reached a magnificent hundred in what promises to be a match-winning innings: anger.

But that’s on the field. It’s but a part of the man. Off it, he’s capable of dignity, thoughtfulness and humility (albeit the last of those to the point of arse-kissiness). He can even smile.

Virat Kohli’s not your best mate and you probably won’t ever go to the pub with him, but he’s not actually a complete dick and he doesn’t ask for people to talk about him in such a way that you want to lamp him one.

So stop fantasising about lamping him one. Instead fantasise about a world in which everyone’s a bit less frenzied about paying tribute after every half-decent performance.

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Sick of winning hearts, Afghanistan win a match

With West Indies needing 10 to win off four balls, Carlos Brathwaite whopped one high into the legside outfield. Najibullah Zadran sprinted, dived, took the catch, broke his neck or something when landing, but never let go of the ball.

Of course he didn’t let go. Why would he let go? His team-mates seemed largely unconcerned about his wellbeing because the main thing – the catching of the ball – had gone okay. They knew Zadran would be happy when he regained consciousness because Afghanistan were a sizeable step closer to beating one of the top sides in the World T20. That was the main thing. They all understood that compared to that a broken neck or a snapped arm or a lost knee was trivial.

Afghanistan are pretty talented – some of the spin bowling, in particular – but at heart there’s a lot to be said for simply enjoying the game of cricket and just really, really wanting to win.

If Afghanistan have a superpower, it’s that losing matches appears to give them strength. Bigger teams get downhearted when beaten. Afghanistan are still on the rise, so they sort of expect to lose and shrug it off in an instant, but then at the same time assume the defeat will make them better come their next match. At that point, they give it everything.

They look casual and the physiques of some of the players have that distinctive part-time cricketer look often seen in players from the less-established nations, but their commitment to their cause is at a level you can only attain when you’re grasping for every advantage you can get.

At one point, Mohammad Shahzad and one of his team-mates celebrated a wicket with some sort of airborne arse-bump. At another point, he threw down the stumps as if they’d assaulted his daughter.

Afghanistan really, really want it and they really, really enjoy it. They’re really, really fun to watch.

After the match, Mohammad Nabi said: “I think so we have had enough of winning the hearts of cricket fans so this time we won the match.”

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Either India or Australia will be/have been knocked out – but who could have predicted the outcome (and when)

virat_kohli

We changed what time this site’s daily email went out recently. We can’t be bothered checking what time range we set it to and we also can’t be bothered working out what impact British Summer Time will have. As such, this post is a preview of the India v Australia match written in the knowledge that you may well be reading when the result is already known.

We wouldn’t be making any predictions anyway. Predictions can quickly look foolish. They have a thing that constantly tries to predict which team’s going to win running throughout each match of this World T20. It’s called The Win Predictor. The Win Predictor is making a good case for being rebranded The Momentum Disprover.

At one point quite early on in England’s match against Sri Lanka, The Win Predictor indicated 100 per cent likelihood of an England victory. England did win, but not before it had later had Sri Lanka’s likelihood of a win up around 70 per cent.

We made a comment about The Win Predictor effectively taking the piss out of its own earlier predictions during that game and one of the founders of the website behind it (CricViz) got in touch. We felt bad, because it’s not really the Win Predictor that’s at fault, it’s the game it’s trying to model.

T20 matches tend to progress in surges. Get a partnership and the run-rate can skyrocket. A wicket or two and it can come to a standstill. The swings can be so swift and dramatic that it can make earlier predictions look preposterous. Your general feeling as a viewer is: ‘Why should I pay heed to this prediction now when the one five minutes ago was so wildly different?’

Like we say, it’s not the predictor that’s the issue here, it’s the format. At the same time, that uncertainty is what keeps us watching. One thing’s for sure though. As far as India v Australia goes, the big story is already known: New Zealand knocked one of them out.

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England v Sri lanka post-match analysis

England are through (to the next round).

Sri Lanka are through (as a short format side).

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England v Sri Lanka World T20 in-depth preview

If England win, they go through.

If Sri Lanka win, they or South Africa will go through.

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Greene King IPA mixed with Foster’s to be the official ‘golden’ of England cricket

Foster's logo

The ECB has announced that bland-tasting pish, Foster’s, is to become the official lager of England cricket. Interestingly, England cricket already has an official beer, which is Greene King IPA, so you can now go to the pub and get a pint of golden while remaining entirely ‘brand loyal’. Or at least you can if you don’t much care about having an enjoyable drink and a nice time.

We look forward to future announcements revealing the official stout of England cricket, the official mild of England cricket, the official wheat beer of England cricket, the official dunkel of England cricket and the official oud bruin of England cricket. We’re also a bit concerned that we’re currently ‘off brand’ when it comes to pork scratchings and so would appreciate some clarity in this matter.

In announcing the Foster’s deal, ECB Commercial Director Sanjay Patel failed the ‘iconic’ test, employing this wishy-washy meaningless non-word when it wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference had he not done so. See also: all other press releases about sponsorship deals and all newspaper articles about any half-famous cultural figure.

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Bangladesh commit seppuku with surprise crockery

Playing India, Bangladesh got themselves into a position where they needed two to win off three balls. Metaphorically speaking, all they had to do was avoid smashing a plate and accidentally disemboweling themselves with a shard of it. Being as they didn’t even have a plate, things looked pretty good.

Somehow Bangladesh found a plate. Then they smashed it. Then they sliced open their abdomen.

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