Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cricket's 20/20 minnows getting raw deal

Dear Haroon Lorgat, Chief Executive of the International Cricket Council,
         You and the rest of your Council are bowling underhand googlies to the minnows of cricket. You can’t get more unfair than that?
         The Twenty 20 World Cup needs to be revamped completely.
         You opened this year’s tournament in Sri Lanka with a match that was complete rubbish because the teams were so mismatched. And spectators and millions of TV watchers around the world still had to look forward to another seven of these one sided games. 
         As the hosts Sri Lanka set the ball rolling with a pathetic match, which was hardly a great advertisement for this version of the game. They thrashed Zimbabwe by something like 80 runs in the format of the game where even the very best sides seldom score 200 in an innings.
This was followed by one humiliation after another for the lesser teams.
         Zimbabwe got an even bigger thumping in their second match when South Africa reached their meagre 93 without losing a wicket. So they found themselves knocked out completely when some teams hadn’t yet played a match.
Brendon Taylor & AB de Villiers
         Brendon Taylor Zim’s best batsman, his side’s wicket keeper and skipper made a duck against Sri Lanka and a miserable 3 facing South Africa. The Zimbabwe Herald described the batting as downright kindergarten stuff.
New Zealand beat Bangladesh by 59 runs. Ireland scraped together 123 for seven wickets, which was easily passed by Australia for the loss of just three wickets.
         Afghanistan showed a glimmer of hope for the underdogs against India. But deplorable catching let them down and they lost by 23 runs. In their next match against England the wheels came off completely with England hammering 196 for a win by 113 runs.
         You can imagine how these losers must have felt. Sorry I don’t think you can, otherwise you wouldn’t have put together such an unequal contest.
         The huge areas of vacant stands testified to how wrong you have got it. And for us TV watchers it was equally depressing seeing cart horses in the same races as high priced thoroughbreds.
         You start with four sections each consisting of two high power teams and one rabbit and they have to play one another in their sections to decide which eight go on to the next round. And as the rabbits have virtually no chance of winning, all they can realistically expect is to have their already poor self esteem crushed even further before being put on a plane home, when the tournament hasn't even reached the halfway stage.
         Is this really the best way to encourage the growth of cricket in the countries where it is still in its infancy?
         Why not have two parallel tournaments, one for the eight top ranked teams and the other one for the eight best minnows. This would introduce an element of real competition in all the matches and make it far more likely that all the games would be worth watching.
         And more importantly it would allow the members of the lesser teams to come away with their pride intact and a determination to go on promoting the game in their respective countries.
The International Rugby Board’s, Sevens World Series has got the right idea. It has a Cup Final with finals for lower level trophies so that teams of different standards have a reasonable chance of avoiding having to return home empty handed.
         Jon, MD of the Sports Ideas Factory, whose only knowledge of cricket is that a Chinaman is a ball that goes through the chink between the stumps.

P.S In the picture of South Africa’s captain AB de Villiers (in green) consoling Brendon Taylor, the Zim captain looks on the verge of tears like all of us. These matches were a crying shame and a blot on the game.

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