It’s nice to see bowlers being decisive in a Twenty20 match. Far too often they might as well just glue different mugshots onto a bowling machine and use that instead.
In the Champions League final, Mumbai successfully defended 139. For a large proportion of the match, the commentators were talking up Chris Gayle and how amazing a Twenty20 batsman he is. Gayle is amazing, but he specialises in hitting sixes slightly more frequently and slightly more reliably than other six-hitting batsmen. It might seem like he’s the perfect Twenty20 player because of that, but even the sport’s ball-whoppiest format presents different challenges from time to time.
Gayle was actually dismissed by Harbhajan Singh, who finished with the best figures (3-20), but it was Lasith Malinga who stood out, not least because he’d also seemed like a monumental stumbling block for Somerset in the semi final.
In that match, the Zoidermen had needed 29 runs from 18 balls, 12 of which were to be bowled by Malinga. Based on how he was bowling, they basically concluded that they needed to score 14 off his two overs and 15 off the other, no matter who bowled it. Some have been at pains to stress the importance of James Franklin’s performance, but we’d give half the credit for that over to the Malinga-enforced run recalculation.
We’ve seen a handful of games where one team needs a six off the final ball to win – it’s hard to beat. We’ll talk you through the climax of Bangalore’s win over South Australia in the Twenty20 Champions League:
Some Aussie guy ran in and bowled and Bangalore’s wicketkeeper tonked it for six. Then some other Aussie, an older one, had a bit of a cry into his hat. Then all the Bangalore players did some jumping.
After that, there was a bit of talking and a microphone was held in front of the faces of several players, one of whom was wearing glasses. A man in a suit held a massive cheque. Then there were some adverts.
In the second Champions League Twenty20 semi final, Trinidad and Tobago’s Dwayne Bravo took 0-46 off three well-spanked overs against Cape Cobras. No matter. He promptly hit 58 off 34 balls to help T&T waltz home. The Dwayne Bravo off-side thock made a couple of appearances.
In many ways this was classic Dwayne Bravo. He approaches everything with such gusto that humiliations are shrugged off before they’ve had a chance to attach themselves to him.
Put Dwayne Bravo in a pair of clown trousers filled with custard and enter him in a 100m race and he’d win. He wouldn’t even notice.
Not one IPL team has made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League Twenty20. Somewhere a marketing twat mournfully draws a descending line on a profit forecast.
Clearly having only three out of the eight IPL teams qualify for the Champions League leaves the cricketainment outfits woefully underrepresented. Next year, only the worst IPL side will fail to qualify by rights. It will have to play a qualifier against the winners of Zimbabwe’s domestic Twenty20 league.
Playing in home conditions on their home grounds didn’t help either. Home sides get a 20 run head start? Away sides have to spend the night before each match in a room full of weasels? Needless corrective footwear for opposition bowlers?
If you want to get to know one of the IPL teams better, there’s only one thing to do: you watch the video of their theme tune.
Royal Challengers Bangalore have a good one. Rahul Dravid looks moody for about 0.1 of a second somewhere in the middle and Kevin Pietersen plays a pull shot right at the end, but otherwise it’s just this:
Royal Challengers Bangalore are all about skirts which serve no discernable purpose.
In the name of having at least half a clue what’s going on, we thought we’d investigate the format of the Champions League Twenty20.
They’re currently playing the group stages. There are three teams in each group. They all play each other and then the top two go through to the next stage.
That’s rubbish. Two out of three is too many. It’s almost as if the tournament’s had a warm-up tagged onto the start of it which is really only there to get rid of Otago, Wayamba, Sussex and Somerset.
Somerset have made a right balls-up by winning a match.
To further clarify our feelings about the Twenty20 Champions League, it’ll be interesting precisely as long as there’s a chance that the budget sides might make a joke out of the rampant capitalism on which the whole thing is built.
Basically, if Somerset beat Deccan Chargers, it’ll be pretty funny and in the unlikely event that Somerset, Otago and Wayamba outperform all the IPL sides, it’ll nicely undercut the pompous bluster that the whole thing relies on. However, the more years the Twenty20 Champions League lasts, the less likely it is that this kind of thing will happen.
Basically, we hate anything where the people behind it have identified a ‘target audience’. Our enjoyment revolves around them being a little bit disappointed. They won’t mind the odd upset, but anything more than that will say that the IPL teams are something other than 100% awesome and that won’t go down well with those marketing that overhyped little tournament.
When we were younger and interested in both cricket and football, we thought that cricket could learn from club football. Now, having pretty much completely forsaken football due to it having become an earth-rattling shodfest that’s part soap opera and part corporate dick-swinging contest, we’re a bit worried that cricket is showing signs of following the same path.
On the face of it, the Twenty20 Champions’ League could be a lot of fun. There are good players and it’s potentially a punchy little tournament with a handful of underdogs in the mix. However, if the rich, powerful sides start manipulating the cricket world to ensure their continued success in such tournaments, we’re not so far away from non-news articles about Mahendra Dhoni maybe thinking about switching clubs. And that’s where we exit.