World Twenty20 Edition
It’s almost over, there is just one match left – the final. The Aussies are gone after being obliterated by the Windies in the Semi, while defending champs England didn’t even make it to the Semis. The final is Chris Gayle’s West Indies against the home side, Sri Lanka – its pretty much anyone’s match, but if Gayle and co are on song like they were in the semi final against Australia then Sri Lanka will have an uphill battle.
He completely dominated the Australians first four games, with both bat and ball, landing four consecutive man of the match awards. With the Aussies not making the final Watson won’t be adding to his statistical tally, but for the time being he’s still sitting as the top run scorer (30 clear of Gayle, 39 clear of Jayawardene), second in number of 6’s hit (was first prior to Gayle’s blitz in the semi), equal top wicket taker with 11 scalps (shared with Mendis who’ll likely add to his total in the final). Unfortunately for himself, and the Australians, he wasn’t at his best at the tail end of the tournament. It will be interesting how his form looks at the Champions League starting next week, because straight after that is the important Test series back home against the South Africans and we’re going to need him – and the rest of the Aussie team – to be in top form for that.
It would probably be fair to say that the Australians weren’t in the mix as far are pre-tournament favourites go, but after stringing several wins together in the first half of the tournament including a clinical beating of India and a somewhat lucky, rain influenced, victory over the West Indies they started to look like a serious chance.
Unfortunately the tournament ended in the opposite fashion to how it began, with consecutive heavy losses – firstly to Pakistan in the final Super 8’s match, and then handed an all-round lesson against the West Indies in the Semi-final – mind you, George Bailey’s super quick fire 60-odd was nice to see and is just the thing people have been waiting to see following his ascension to the Twenty20 captaincy, look forward to hopefully seeing more of that in the future.
Australia’s exit shows just how volatile the T20 game can be, a brilliant well-oiled machine one day can quickly turn to complete catastrophe the next, sadly for the Aussies the losses came at the wrong time and ultimately they failed to make a final that few actually expected them to make anyway.
With that in mind you could, perhaps, say that the tournament was a successful outing for them – especially if you compare their performance to those of South Africa and defending champs England.
The “controversial” loss
To begin with I honestly can’t believe that people are so caught up on the thought that Australia might have deliberately tried not to win their last Super 8 match just to make sure India and South Africa couldn’t make the semis. Sure, after their top order collapsed they wanted to make sure that they made it to the minimum 112 that they need to qualify themselves, but to say they did it just to eliminate the others is ridiculous – and even if they did, so what, I thought this was meant to be a competition? I’m just waiting for someone to suggest this is some form of match fixing, so just to pre-empt that thought – any such suggestion is total horse shit, and you know it.
Secondly, do the irate Indian fans – and just to be clear, I know not all Indian fans feel the same way, but those that do have been very vocal – honestly believe that India, or anyone else, would never try such a tactic if they had the option? Come on, lets be serious, of course they would. The loss was only controversial in the minds of the conspiracy wack-jobs on the internet. Anyone with half a brain can work that out. In the end the equation was simple, if India and South Africa wanted to make the Semis then perhaps they should have won a few more games. Duh. Let’s move on shall we?
The current scenario where associate/affiliate nations only get two games before being knocked out is kind of pointless. Cricket outside of the core “test playing” nations is never going to improve unless the “lesser” nations are given more opportunities against quality opponents. With the overall international schedule jammed packed already, its at tournaments like the World Twenty20 and the ODI World Cup that this should be happening. Except its not, instead they get stuck with poorly structured group stages that all but ensure that they get minimal games and are the shuffled off to the side after the first week so the “serious” stuff can begin. Which me leads directly into…
I have an entire article in the works on the problems with the World Twenty20 format, and how I’d fix it, that I’ll post later in the week so this is sort of an abbreviated version.
Four groups of three teams – stupid, not enough games for the minnows, not enough variety of opponents for any team in the group stages. Having the Super 8 groupings determined by pre-tournament seeding rather than the actual placings from the group stage – also stupid. So we ended up with the four group winners in one group and the four group losers in the other. This meant that two of the initial group winners couldn’t make the semis no matter what the results were. Completely ridiculous.
I think part of the problem is that the ICC is trying to keep total number of games to a minimum and finding a format that does this, fits the time frame, works with the associates/affiliates and still provides a ‘fair’ fixture seems to be difficult. As I said I have ideas, I’ll cover those in a separate article.
Women’s World Twenty20
The eight-team women’s tournament has been running parallel to the men’s event. The semis and final even being played on the same ground, on the same day as the lead in to the men’s games – great stuff. The TV coverage is where the issues sit. The Australian men might not have made tonights final, but the women did, it will be on Fox Sports but that’s only of any use if you have Fox Sports. Channel 9 have been nice enough to show most of the Aussie men’s games on free-to-air, although they resorted to delayed coverage for some of the games when they should have been showing them live – the have three channels, surely they could have shown it live on one of them, but no.
Anyway back to the Women’s game, long story short, there is no free-to-air coverage – live, delayed or otherwise – of the women’s final, a match in which the Australians are playing, and are aiming to defend their title. Again, Channel 9 have three channels and yet nothing, instead they are showing replays of 30 year-old sitcoms and 25 year old movies. Ridiculous, and poor poor form.