Pakistan, AB de Villiers, wickets and jeopardy

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Cricket needs jeopardy. Jeopardy makes things exciting.

You have jeopardy in a tournament – the chance of being knocked out – and lo, the match is exciting. Something is riding on it. Tension’s good.

You have jeopardy in an innings – the chance of being bowled out – and you get the same benefits.

It’s a pretty basic rule. It’s the difference between having the action play out on this bridge and having it play out on this bridge.

Cricket is always best when wickets win a match. Test cricket is about taking 20 wickets and Test cricket’s best – but one-day cricket can also have its moments. That sense of jeopardy adds a whole extra dimension to proceedings, as we saw today.

Even AB de Villiers couldn’t save South Africa. His team again proved that other than he and Amla, they’re something of a fairweather batting side. For their part, Pakistan again proved that having two bowling attacks banned and another one injured need be no barrier to success.

But if Pakistan were the real winners, that oh-so-out-of-form side ‘cricket’ also earned a rare victory. Twenty20 is too short for wickets to be of any real concern. Surely here was proof that 50-over cricket’s niche is as a form of the game where they are at least meaningful?


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. Well said. That is exactly the problem with T20, that the first five wickets don’t matter one little bit. It’s like being invincible on Frogger – you’d just run straight across the road irrespective of any cars, and where’s the fun in that. The batsman slogs because he can, because there are no consequences to failure.

    I’ve often wondered what T20 would be like if it were five out all out. Better, in my opinion. Worse I suspect, in the opinion of the morons who run cricket.

  2. Similar principle in the Ireland v Zimbabwe match. Wickets were the thing, and the runs really mattered at the end.

    1. Yes, it’s not so much that low scores are better; it’s just that matches with more wickets tend to be low-scoring.

      Ireland v Zimbabwe had both. Runs, wickets and balls remaining were all playing a part at the finish. It was excellent stuff.

    2. It’s an added bonus that the Irish players come across as genuinely likeable. Even John Mooney.

  3. excellent point sir. hmmm… i confess i am only semi-following this world cup, not necessarily JUST because england are dead set on course for the usual ignominious arse-dragging out of the qfs, more other things going on… and no sky or whatever to watch it on anyway. gard to get caught up in whatever excitement is available, sustained over that ridiculous timespan… (gayle) warner and AB and now pakistan’s 4th team attack (as you so rightly point out again) – oh and of course aus folding for 151 and england getting put firmly in their place by (a.o.) sri lanka, i did have to have a good snort of laughter nonetheless when i read that scorecard…

    … maybe check you back in a day or so!

  4. I think it is very unfair that Bangladesh are going to qualify at the expense of England basically because of the point they picked up in their aquatic escape act from an inevitably humiliating defeat at the hands of Australia.

    In future the ICC should determine that points awarded for rain-affected games reflect the seedings of the two nations involved, so Australia should have been handed a win-by-default.

    Additionally, in matches where the results are foregone conclusions anyway, points should be awarded based on Test-match status (or Not Being Bangladesh Or Zimbabwe) rather than because of any fluke that should transpire on field. This would have a myriad of advantages that persuade the ICC to implement it immediately and retrospectively:

    * Because none of the commercially relevant nations will be knocked out in the early rounds, the ICC can increase the number of World Cup places for Associates to 25 to spread the global reach of cricket.

    * The sad win/loss ratio of formerly great teams such as the West Indies would improve markedly, correcting one of cricket’s saddest trends.

    * Extended periods on the bench without prospect of a minute’s play are professionally degrading and psychologically dangerous. More matches with nothing at stake mean more chances for bench-warmers like Tredwell to get into the team, onto the field, and remember what grass smells like.

    * Restoring India into the knock-out phase of the 2007 CWC allows for a seriously lucrative re-run of the business end of that tournament. Three point five percent of the profits generated can be donated to a charity supporting starving widows in Kenya, so that anybody disagreeing with the correction of historic injustice at the Retroactive 2007 CWC is heartless scum and can be roundly ignored.

  5. well, a surprise after all! instead of limping miserably out of the QFs, we are on the way out to the mighty bangla tigers!! who says england are predictable?

    ah, i mean – come on england…

    1. England have finally seen sense and got Buttler in earlier… albeit through the loss of wickets rather than a flexible approach to the batting order. 52 needed from six overs, this is unbearable – I mean I can’t bear the thought of this anguish continuing should we scrape home here…

    2. The old school heavier bats wouldn’t have bounced… maybe. Dunno how you can give that but.

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