ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, Augest 26, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 13

Thoughts on Twenty 20

By Ranil Abeynaike

It was the 1973 World Cup that influenced cricket to stretch out to reach new horizons. Until then the game was simply meandering on and was even in danger of becoming extinct. With that opening World Cup many nations began to play it at domestic level. hey had to in order to develop in that format. The interest amongst the public got rekindled.

Then the Kerry Packer series added fuel to fire. Suddenly money began to roll into the game. Sponsors and TV coverage began to play a major role in the development and progress of the game. When you look back, the game has changed in an unbelievable manner in the past three decades.

The England Cricket Board came up with the idea of twenty-20 cricket, because even the one day game was lacking sufficient patronage at county level. They wanted to bring about a carnival atmosphere over a short period of time and simply draw people into the grounds. Many people scoffed at the idea, but it has worked. The purpose has been achieved. In England, twenty-20 cricket has become part of the summer attractions.

Still, many countries look at it with some suspicion. Many feel it is not in keeping with the traditional game and quite rightly so. The real skills of the game must be protected at all cost. The world’s governing body has decided it is time to get the best in the world to assemble in South Africa to contest in a twenty-20 world cup. Let us hope that it is kept to once every four years and simply as a form of entertainment.

Twelve teams will contest in this inaugural tournament. That includes the ten major playing nations along with Kenya and Scotland. With the associate countries being down to two, Ireland has not found a place, after having enjoyed a successful World Cup. The teams will compete in twenty seven games, at the league and knock out stage and it will be all done and finished within two weeks. Three venues will be used and there are bound to be large crowds present to witness some big hitting.

The bowlers are on a hiding to nothing in the four overs that each can bowl. Containment and thereby strangling the batsman to a dismissal will be their mode of operation. Most of the bowling will be done by quicker bowlers who are bound to use the ‘yorker’ as a main weapon. Only the experienced spinners, Muttiah Muralitharan, Daniel Vettori, Harbajan Singh, Shahid Afridi, Chris Gayle, will be seen in action… They will have to employ all their experience and skills to succeed.

Ten an over is achievable, when batsmen are only in the mood to attack. That is what teams will be aiming to score. More the merrier. The main attractions will be the likes of Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Jacob Oram, Shahid Afridi, Chris Gayle, Kevin Pieterson, all strong men who can belt a cricket ball. On the other side of the coin, some of the more accomplished senior stroke makers have been asked to stay at home. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Jacques Kallis, Mohamed Yousuf and almost the entire England test top order, are part of that list.

Sri Lanka has a relative inexperienced lot of twenty-20 cricketers, but they make-up with their vast experience overall. Jayasuriya will be their big hitter but Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara and T.M. Dilshan are batsmen who can hit the ball powerfully and maintain the required run rate.

In the bowling department Sri Lanka possess a very experienced lot. Four pacemen in Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando and then Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya to spin, is a very formidable outfit. Their combined performance will hold the key to Sri Lanka’s success. Not too many experts have yet predicted who will be the ultimate winners. Being the first attempt, it is very open. This could be anybody’s cup of joy.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.