I accept that it was always likely that the current T20 World Cup wouldn’t really kick in until the Super 8 rounds, but to say that the tournament has thus far been drab would be unfair to the numerous other drab objects across the planet. There is an uninspiringly grey pot I keep my spare change in on my window sill sat not a huge distance from my TV looking on disapprovingly at the cricket, concerned that it is being out-drabbed.
The worry for ICC organisers is that, to date, there haven’t been many memorable International T20 duels that fans of the shorter format can point to and say ‘that is what is so great about T20 cricket’. I read recently that there have been almost 250 international T20 games since the first one back in 2003, and yet the only ones that I can remember the result from are the ones I’ve physically been at or the WC final that England won over Australia. Other than that I remember Yuvraj Singh biffing Broad for 6 sixes in an over, but although I assume India won I really have no idea or botheredness to find out.
To sum up the paucity of rank mediocrity, Cricinfo recently featured an article where it took the views of some of the ‘leading exponents’ of the various cricketing arts put to the test in T20 >here<. The batting expert was Brad Hodge; the spinning expert Murali Kartik; and the quick bowling guru Shane Bond. Now, I’ll accept Bond as a talented player who didn’t quite have the body to prove himself in other formats, but the other two?
Hodge is a player with 8 Tests under his belt. Sure, he’s 37 now but his last Test he was just 33, and Australia’s middle order, best described as ‘limp’, has hardly been a closed shop since. He cannot argue that he was competing with Ponting, Martyn, MHussey and Clarke for his entire career. In fact, over the past 5 years he’s been competing with Khawaja, DHussey, Shaun Marsh…the sort of standard of player which again provokes my money pot into sitting there drab-ly and do nothing.
Kartik too only has 8 Tests under his belt. Uninspiring amongst a generation of uninspiring Indian spinners post Kumble/Harbahjan at his best, Kartik has found out a few technical flaws in the batsmen of County Cricket, but everywhere else he has been average…bar T20 cricket.
To sum up what I mean, it’s all a bit dull and desperate. Crowds in England, where the spectacle of T20 was founded, are on the decline. Crowds in the IPL are also dwindling with, more importantly, TV numbers getting lower. Until this mediocrity can be reversed, and some form of context brought to T20 fixtures, this will continue. I don’t dislike T20, I just wish it could mean more than a few bars of music on the day after a boundary.
For England, I’d insist upon a tournament format each summer, including the two touring sides and possibly inviting an Affiliate nation such as the Afghans, Ireland or Canada to make it a 4 way format. Placing it in between the two Test series generally held these days rather than at the end, and creating a trophy each summer…At least it would be watchable.