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Monday, September 17, 2007

Twenty20 is cricket

We are in the midst of cricket's latest form entertainment Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa. We are also in the midst of discussions and debates on whether this truncated version of the game is a success or failure.

Maybe it is too early to pass a verdict. But after watching a few matches, including the thrilling Indo-Pak bowled-out tie, I think this will be a success. Just give it some time.

The shorter duration is the key. One doesn't have to sit through long hours to watch the match. And look at the pace at which the game is being played. The speed gives it an added attraction. It's much faster than the 50-over one-day internationals.

One casualty, I admit, is the graceful defensive stroke, which we could see even in the ODIs. Here, no batsman can allow a dot ball. So, he has to swing the bat in some direction. But on the plus side, this form of cricket gives full expression to the saying: "attack is the best form defence".

There is an argument going around that Twenty20 is only slam-bang, and is just not cricket. I strongly disagree with this view. There is cricket in Twenty20, complete with all the strategy, if only one cared to notice and play that way.

The point that is being missed is how important the accuracy of bowling has to be. No bowler can afford to let go a loose one. He has to keep a perfect line and length. He can't let even one run slip by and also he has to lure the batsman into playing a stroke. There aren't many overs to make good the mistakes.

That makes field placing very important. It has to be accurate: one, to check the runs and two, to take the catch off the miscued shot. A bowler has to bowl to the field like never before.

Twenty20 takes the battle between the bat and the ball to new heights of intensity. In a Test or ODI, a batsman can play safe to a ball that is not "scorable". Either he lets it go through to the keeper or gets on top of it to smother it down. In Twenty20, there is no such luxury, the batsman has to convert even "non-scorable" deliveries to scorable ones. And the challenge here for the bowler is, how to penalise the batsman for daring to do that.

I think the Test matches will survive. Because it is a different form of cricket altogether. The battle is on a different level. What Twenty20 has encroached upon is the 50-over version. They are very similar to each other in approach and with T20 more racy, it could eventually overtake the one-day internationals.

One last point. When I watched the bowl-out in the Indo-Pak match, I was reminded how we used to practise. The coach used to say: every ball should hit the stumps. That's the foundation of bowling.

4 comments:

  1. yeah it is fun to watch alright and 20-20 is probably the future of the game - but it could also mean that the game of cricket may merge with baseball!!

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  2. only time will tell pradeep.

    however, i believe that cricket need to evolve into another stage without losing its identity, in so doing will attract the future generation to continue playing the game.

    i really look forward to see a fast-pace-action cricket rather than sit-and-wait cricket.

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  3. You hit the stumps with your comment regarding bowling practice. Even I was taught to practice bowling that way.

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  4. The earlier look of the blog was better.

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