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It’s the India cricketers we feel for

Imagine you work in accounts for a biggish company that leases out some of its office space to other firms. Imagine that one of your company directors inexplicably removes the coffee machine from the shared kitchen and places it in the middle of your firm’s office.

Now imagine that you trip over in the car park one morning and a load of people who work for other companies in your building all point and laugh at you for 16 minutes while you writhe around on the floor with a broken ankle. This is what it’s like to play cricket for India.

Shikhar Dhawan hasn’t snatched away anyone’s coffee. He’s just a guy with a smashing moustache who enjoys batting. R Ashwin isn’t ruling Prosperity House with an iron fist. He’s just an amiable nerd with a deep and genuine love for spin bowling. Even so, when their team lost to New Zealand, people around the world were laughing at them, enjoying their downfall.

Unfortunately for them, India’s players are representatives. Back when they represented the country, this wasn’t so bad, but nowadays they find themselves the public face of their cricket board. They represent a bunch of fat dullards addicted to cronyism and infatuated with Mammon. This is despite the fact that they have pretty much zero influence over what those people do and are in fact being driven into the ground themselves through their poor decisions.

India are top of the schadenfreude hierarchy. They boss England and Australia, who bully the other six major Test teams, who look down on Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, who in turn exploit all the have-nots scrabbling around for international fixtures. The laughter then goes the other way.

England play the West Indies later today. The world can’t wait to see the Windies beat Giles Clarke’s boys and teach him and them a lesson. They then play Afghanistan next Wednesday, which offers the greatest opportunity for schadenfreude in this tournament with India not playing anyone quite so low down in the hierarchy.

Even when you play for one of the least popular nations, there’s always an opportunity to bring joy to the world.

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World T20 begins with ‘six and out’

Then a dot ball. Then another six.

Post-qualifying kicked off as if it had a bit of catching up to do. It was almost as if the tournament had begun a couple of weeks ago without the majority of teams being present until now.

India are playing New Zealand. Martin Guptill hit the first ball, delivered by R Ashwin, for six. Next ball he missed a straight one and was adjudged LBW. (You always use the word ‘adjudged’ when it was later shown to be missing.)

Incoming batsman Colin Munro promised greater solidity, defending the third delivery of the match with a good straight bat. Next ball he reverse-pummelled a six.

New Zealand’s number three lasted way longer than Guptill though. It was the sixth delivery he faced before he clogged one to mid-off and exited the stage.

The match continues.

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Some of you may remember Omari Banks…

He was a West Indies off-spinner. He averaged 117 against England in 2014. Here’s his Cricinfo profile page.

As that record suggests, Omari wasn’t the greatest spinner of all time. However, somewhat miraculaously, he can now boast an even worse record – his godawful single Me & You, which makes The Lighthouse Family seem like satan-worshipping urban thrash metal hip-hop experimentalists.

Why did you give up the day job, Omari? You were pretty rubbish at it, but if the rest of us let incompetence keep us from our jobs, where would the world find itself?

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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.

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Somehow Afghanistan have qualified for the World T20

The ICC are calling this ‘the group stage’ of the World T20. Everyone else is correctly referring to it as the qualifiers.

Afghanistan have qualified.

Despite the best efforts of the organisers, someone had to.

Afghanistan did of course have the good fortune to be in Group B. It’s not that it’s an easier group; it’s that Group B matches are actually being played. The teams in that group are playing in Nagpur, where it isn’t raining. Group A matches are failing to take place in Dharamsala where it’s been slatting it down.

Due to the rain, there’s actually a very real possibility that Oman could play one match, win it, and fail to qualify. Someone at the ICC will doubtless be able to claim that they failed to take the opportunity presented to them. We’re not quite sure how they’ll do this, but we’re excited to find out.

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Turns out AB de Villiers is rubbish at T20 cricket

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

There’s only so many times you can hear how wonderful something is before you want to hit it with a hammer or push it down a flight of stairs at the luxury five-star hotel at which it’s staying ahead of its team’s first match at the World T20.

However, this urge should be resisted. Generally speaking, it’s not the thing itself which is so objectionable – it’s the almost mindless adulation it receives. Also, why would it be using the stairs rather than the lift? Maybe it was a schoolboy stair ascending and descending champion and wants to keep its eye in. Who knows?

Anyway, should the mindless wish to gain a mind, Cricinfo’s S Rajesh has dug out a few stats about how AB de Villiers performs in T20 internationals. Turns out he has the fifth-lowest average among top five batsmen to have scored more than 750 runs.

It’s not totally damning, but it’s a nice thing to set against all the unquestioning worship, especially considering all the talk about how he supposedly epitomises the modern game.

Maybe he does. All anyone remembers are the days when he comes off – they forget all the frenetic failures. What could be more reflective of the contemporary cricket landscape than that?

Perhaps AB de Villiers wants his cake-eating window so that he can get in a bit more practice in his weakest format.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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A committee of cooks designing a horse for broth

They’ve had a meeting about renovating the entire structure of county cricket. They’ve resolved to repaint one of the bedrooms and maybe replace some of the sealant around the bath.

In 1890, it was suggested that county cricket be divided into first, second and third classes with eight teams in each.

WG Grace wrote of the debate…

“The scheme of classification did not give general satisfaction, and a newspaper warfare was kept up for some time afterwards.”

We never did get first, second and third class cricket and over a hundred years later, these sorts of discussions still pan out much the same. So many people have their say that the status quo or some sort of bizarre half-baked compromise are the only likely outcomes.

First-class, T20 Blast-playing counties cannot countenance any kind of erosion of the standard of cricket they are seen to play. They would rather play a poor standard of first-class cricket than a better standard labelled second-class cricket. They would rather be one of 16 mediocre Twenty20 sides in a sprawling, diluted competition than a less visible part of a more concentrated event.

Just as at international level, there’s no thought to blurring boundaries and giving the have-nots a route to progress on merit. The first-class counties will remain first-class counties and they will also remain the only first-class counties – forever.

The first-class counties are in the club and they aren’t voting anyone else into that club or themselves out of it. Any changes made must therefore be within these parameters.

We long ago grew weary of mooted county cricket reforms. It’s not that what eventuates ultimately fails to match what was proposed – that much is inevitable. It’s that what eventuates is so far removed from what was proposed as to be all but unrelated.

County cricket is camel stew.

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Is Bumrah ever-living?

This is the question everyone’s asking. Mumm-Ra was ever-living – and therefore presumably still is. It therefore stands to reason that Jasprit Bumrah is ever-living too, what with his name sounding slightly similar and all.

Bumrah bowled well in the 15-over-a-side Asia Cup Final. He did a lot to ensure India won, if they won. If they lost, he can’t be blamed.

We could just wait an hour to see who wins the match, but the truth is life’s short for those of us who aren’t ever-living. We’ve got to crack on with the day (eating roast, maybe drinking some wine, watching telly).

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