Posts Tagged ‘Twenty20’

A gentleman’s game goes sour (and becomes rugby)

Wasn’t it nice to be reminded what Shane Warne was truly capable of?

Throughout his career we had booty shaking at Trent Bridge, Mrs. Warne bequeathing diuretics upon her ailing son and a certain lengthy ban for a certain serious infringement.

Yet all of that was lost in a sea of miraculous dismissals and denied hundreds once the great man retired, and instead the eye of common memory settled upon the Gatting delivery, calling Brendon McCullum’s dismissal in the Big Bash League last year and dating Liz Hurley (remember Simone Warne, formerly beloved of the gossip mags?).

There is an old adage about cricket, incidentally involving rugby, that one can catch if one listens closely enough around old blokes drinking Resch’s.

It says something to the effect of cricket being a game played by bogans pretending to be gentlemen, while rugby is a game played by gentlemen pretending to be bogans.

Harsh? Fair? I’m not sold, I reckon both cricket and rugby have their fair share of both pretending to be both, as well as just straight up nice guys and some lousy ones.

But there is an interesting comparison to be made, I think, between Twenty20 cricket and rugby. While cricket at its purest is predominantly about the mind, the more one shortens the format the more reliant on the body it becomes. It becomes less about thinking and planning and more about just executing.

Test matches give the bowler the ability to work a batsman out with a plan, because the batsmen knows that taking a risk in the longer format increases the likelihood of dismissal. Why risk that when you have all day to bat?

If he instead respects good balls, offering a dead bat, and punishes wayward balls that are easier to get away, the more likely the batsman will receive consistent reward. In this way the batsman’s ability to hit boundaries is less important than his ability to concentrate for long periods of time and survive planned assaults from bowlers.

Twenty20 shifts the focus. A bowler has to only plan one ball at a time, because he is the one who must hold firm and ‘survive,’ while the batsmen must use every ounce of his strength and hand-eye to attempt to score as many runs as possible from every delivery, whether through bludgeoning it out of the park or caressing it to parts of the fence a red cricket ball would rarely acquaint itself with.

The physically demanding, fast-paced and tough sport of rugby promotes raised levels of anger in its players due to the collisions and posturing. The lack of time to consider and plot, however, must also have a bearing on this. Does Twenty20 cricket, by decreasing the time spent between deliveries and on the field in total, thereby increasing the urgency of runmaking and wicket taking, also increase the level of machoness and posturing between teams?

There was certainly a lot of that between Marlon Samuels and Shane Warne the other night.

I think this theory could be on the money, but more on this later.

As to the censure around this particular incident, well, I think we might be acting a tad precious.

Samuels_Warne-1200

A clear throw from Samuels is sure to attract the attention of Darrell Hair

For those who missed it, Warnie was captured saying “Fuck you, Marlon,” then throwing the ball at Samuels and Marlon retaliating by throwing his bat in a direction somewhat close to Warnie’s, though not nearly close enough to threaten anyone. To be fair, Warnie should have removed the microphone snugly attached to his waist before hurling expletives at the bat chucker.

It all started earlier in the day when the big fish Samuels (a marlin joke, you see) decided to tug David Hussey’s shirt while he was running between the wickets. If they kept their hands to themselves there would be no story.

Wherefore all this masculine hanky panky? Is Twenty20 breeding a new kind of cricketing boofhead? Is it forcing young cricketers to be brash and cocky, ignorant of the grace, skill and charisma of the cricketers of old.

Or is this merely a blip? After all, how many other instances of throwing the bat have you seen in Twenty20?

Nay, I see this as a one off, and to try to make it something it isn’t is not giving enough credit to the cricketers who have played thousands of Twenty20s before this one.

More importantly, I have been analysing Marlon Samuels’ throw of the bat, and have determined through thoroughly unscientific methods that his elbow bend on his toss was clearly beyond the allowed 15 degrees. The University of Western Australia better get onto that.

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The Test match as novel

In light of a certain 4.2 over run chase in the past few days, I thought it a pertinent time to put to you a theory I’ve been working on.

It is a theory of why cricket tragics seem to value Test cricket infinitely more than its two limited-over brothers.

Let’s get one things straight: I’m not a Twenty20 hater.

I quite enjoy snacking on a bit of hit and giggle every now and then, but only as part of a healthy cricket diet. In between light lunches of One Dayers and fulfilling dinners of Test matches, I really shouldn’t pig out in between.

So Twenty20 and I maintain the same relationship I hold with chocolate. It’s a sometimes food, not to be confused with the meat and potatoes (and vegetables) of a healthy diet.

The reasons I hold for preferring Test and One Day cricket also stack up with my healthy diet analogy. While a bar of chocolate can be utterly delicious, satisfying and exactly what you need at the time, eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner will make you sick in the stomach.

So it is with Twenty20.

A delicious roast dinner, on the other hand, is the ultimate meal. It leaves you satisfied, wanting no more than what you were provided. But more importantly, you know it’s done you good. The meat gives you iron. The veggies do their thing, replete with vitamins and minerals. The gravy is unctuous and delicious.

It seems like you can’t even compare eating chocolate to eating a filling, nutritious dinner, just as you can’t compare a T20 to a Test.

The comparison becomes even more skewed when you place a ‘good’ T20 against a ‘good’ Test. It’s just becomes unfair.

The foodie comparisons end here, as the reasons for liking food and liking cricket seem to diverge.

As Twenty20 cricket rises to ever more prominence and success, cricket-lovers search for reasons why they resent the new game so much.

“It’s just not cricket,” they say.

It’s certainly not cricket as one would see in a Test match. It is an entirely new beast.

Then again, One Day cricket was an entirely new beast when it came to prominence. Although it is now the divisive middle child of the trio, One Day cricket still would feature higher in the hierarchy of most cricket tragics than the younger, more boisterous brother of Twenty20.

Here’s why.

Cricket, for the spectator, is about investment. Inevitably, this investment boils down to a very simple equation: investment = time.

What do I mean by investment?

We all know the tenseness that comes from a Test match that is ever-so close. Nails are sacrificed to the cricketing Gods, hair is torn out, Televisions are flicked on and off and between stations as people seek a release from the palpable nervous tension.

A great example of this was in the 2005 Ashes, when Michael Kasprowicz and Brett Lee were batting to win Australia an unlikely victory, to have it snatched away in the cruelest fashion with only two runs required.

Both nations stopped that day. It was monumental; everyone watched it, and everyone who watched it knew it was monumental.

The number of fingernails reduced to mere stubs that day, on the field and off, would be close to some sort of record, such is the tension created by Test cricket.

It is the ultimate tension in cricket, and it is created over five days, over 460 overs. The more time you spend watching or listening to these 460 sets of six, the more invested you are, and the more epic the games become.

A Test is like a novel. There are many published every year; some good, some bad. Great ones go down in history as some of the greatest works ever written. Some are consigned to the sporting scrap heap, but are dragged up when convenient for the statisticians and argument makers among us.

It is the investment of time required to appreciate the novel that makes it so special. A novel can convey so much information to those willing to take the time to read it.

Anyone who does read War and Peace or Middlemarch will attest that it was well worth it, despite the slog required to complete it.

Test matches are the same. The plots unfold more slowly, and are told more delicately. The authors of the action are given this grace.

Some authors choose to accept this as a chance to tell the story slowly, opening themselves up to being labelled boring or worse. Certain storytellers revel in putting the reader through a kind of torture with their pacing. Some readers decide to skim through the novel as a result.

Not all novels are necessarily great, as it is with Test matches. But the time investment, assuming the spectator dedicates the time to appreciate it, will inevitably yield some form of learning, no matter whether it possessed the stuff of greatness or was of generally poor quality.

The One Dayer can possess similar levels of greatness as a Test match, but its obvious time limitation restricts the amount of storytelling the authors get the chance to do.

Theoretically, therefore, the greatest possible One Dayer could never be as great as the greatest possible Test match. The lack of time simply does not provide the authors to expound the same quantity of greatness. That’s not to say the quality of that greatness can’t be the same.

I see the One Dayer as the equivalent of the novella.

Some novellas are true greats. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and A Christmas Carol have gone down in the pantheon of literature as some of the best works ever written.

That memorable game, ‘The 400 Game’ between South Africa and Australia at the Wanderers might well fit into this category.

But can they ever compare favourably to the sustained greatness of the best novels ever written? Sure, these titles are well known and considered great, and rightly so. The list of great novels, however, is lengthier and better developed by ‘those in the know.’

Literary critics and bookworms could rattle off their top 50 works of literature in next to no time. Sure to feature among most are the great novels: Ulysses, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Moby Dick, Don Quixote; and the rest, as you might say.

Novels, all of them.

I would hazard a guess that at least 90 percent of those considered by the experts as the greatest works of literature would be novels, just as 90 percent of the best cricket games ever played would be Tests. Time investment pays off for the reader, just as it does for the cricket watcher.

Finally, we come to that art form maligned as peasantry by the true cricket tragic: Twenty20.

The time investment is minimal, each game is considered meaningless. There is some time for the action to play out and be told, but before they have had the chance to let their carefully constructed storytelling sink in, the next delivery has already left the author’s hand.

It is this that creates a sense of chaos and meaninglessness about Twenty20. A sense that something has been left out, but you don’t know what. A similar sense to what you might feel sitting through a movie adaptation of a great novel.

The Lord of the Rings is a case in point; a rarely excellent adaptation of a great set of books. There were lots of things missing in terms of the plot, but more than that, there was something missing in the feel of it. It was epic, but not nearly as epic as the books.

It could be that the imagination tends to hyperbolize and extrapolate, leading to epic that would not be possible to replicate in film format. Test matches, after all, leave plenty of time for the imagination to do its thing.

But I think that it is the lack of investment required to view the movie that has an impact as well.

Not having to work through the slow bits to be excited by the fast bits, and not having any sense of comparison leads to action and storytelling being devalued. It is the same actions that would amount to greatness in other expressions of their format, only lesser incarnations.

I’m not saying that greatness can’t be achieved in cinema or in Twenty20 cricket. I’m saying that the kind of greatness achieved by these formats differs vastly from the greatness of a novel or a Test match.

The Test match, being longer, requires more time investment to enjoy. It gives the author more time to express nuance, and space to express it at his leisure by placing a less arbitrary time restriction on it.

Perhaps this boils down to the attachment complex created by the great art forms of the Test match and the novel, an attachment that must be fostered over time. Or it could be something else entirely

Whatever the case, it is the giving of time that allows the storytelling to make its full impact. Spectator investment is the reason for the un-placeable greatness of the Test match.

A brief note on a travesty

I know the title above is sadly reminiscent of a word overused by the mainstream media, but I felt it was one of the only apt words to use in lieu of “disgrace.” I’ve never been a fan of either really, but I feel strongly about the topic I am about to write about.

I am similarly passionate about the fact that many of the things people in the media describe as a “disgrace” or a “travesty” are absolutely not these things, so I suppose this thing fits in the same boat.

But both words do make for a catchy headline.

There was a “cricket game” (used in the loosest possible sense. The loosest) played between the Perth Scorchers and Brisbane Heat recently where the chasing side were given 5 overs to chase down a Duckworth-Lewis-revised total of 51. Leaving aside the fact that the Scorchers and Heat are newly contrived and pseudo-real franchises playing a massively dumbed down version of our sport for a moment, I think this is a move in an utterly wrong direction for the game.

Many people have complained and continue to complain that Twenty20 isn’t real cricket. I think it is cricket, but it has stripped it down to the last bastion: twenty overs is my limit. Any less and it ceases to mean anything and becomes just a form of slightly more nuanced baseball.

In this match, Nathan Coulter-Nile was awarded man of the match for his “match winning innings.” I’ve seen many match winning innings in my time. Michael Clarke’s treble in Sydney last year was a cracker. AB De Villiers in Perth this year wasn’t half bad. Tendulkar played a few in his time if I recall correctly. But Nathan Coulter-Nile’s was not a match winning innings.

He amassed a total of 23 runs from six balls. I will admit that it was this innings that won the match, but it was not a match winning innings.

To label it so is simply disingenuous and denigrates the notion of the match winning innings as something that is constructed, crafted, worked for and earned, like a sculpture. Not something that is blasted with a stick of dynamite and called a sculpture. No, Coulter-Nile’s innings was a cameo by anyone’s standards.

But maybe Twenty20 and cricket are moving the way of modern art. Stick a mirror on the wall and call it art, and have a meaningless explanation to justify it. The Big Bash League is Cricket Australia’s meaningless explanation, and their mirror is chasing 50 runs in five overs. Pointless and moot long ago? Entirely.

Which seems like a right shame to me, because cricket has so much more to offer the keen-eyed observer. The cheap thrills of 23 off 6 don’t compare to a restrained hundred from a naturally aggressive (born of the Twenty20 era) player like David Warner on a green top in Hobart last year. They don’t compare to a double from an under pressure Ricky Ponting against India. They don’t compare to three painstakingly compiled hundreds earned at a strike rate of 33 by Alastair Cook in the infancy of his captaincy career.

No, Coulter-Nile’s innings, and this game, shall not take pride of place, nor any place in the pantheon of cricket memory. It, along with the game it rode on the back of will be tossed out with the nonchalance with which he struck four boundaries off Dan Christian. It doesn’t, and never will matter.

That’s not to say Twenty20 is meaningless. But when Messrs Duckworth and Lewis’ method has been so bastardised as to try to achieve a result within five overs, there is too much contingency, too much plain dumbness, that the resulting game should no longer be called cricket.

It you can’t complete twenty overs, don’t finish the game. Call it off due to rain as cricket has done for 150 years. It’s not worth sacrificing a game with more soul than any of the others for the sake of a result in a meaningless competition. And if the administrators do feel the need to attain a result, then don’t call it cricket.

Twenty20 cricket is not gansta rap

Finally, the right thing happened. This tooing and froing went on for too long, as it has with many Wallabies in the past little bit.

Quade might have been a basket case in the last three times he’s re-signed, but even loyal servant Will Genia had to go through this madness of uncertainty for a period this year.

I think it’s time to apply the razor to the Australia Rugby Union negotiation process; shave off some bodies that the players are required to negotiate with in order to finally put pen to paper. Many will benefit from this reduction in confusing protocol, particularly the ARU, who could be made to look a little silly one day when a code-hopper who signed with the Force decides to renege because he doesn’t like the cut of one of the ARU official’s jib. Gotta mind those jibs.

Occam's razor: Philosophical science or scientific philosophy?

Ockham’s razor: Philosophical science or scientific philosophy?

I say that the right thing happened with Quade because from the very beginning it should have been clear to everyone involved that Quade wanted to stay in rugga. He signed a three year deal with the Reds, as clear a sign of his intentions as there’s ever been.

Khoder Nasser, being who he is, probably wanted Quade to ‘keep his options open with a one year deal’ or some such stupidity. But Quade, despite his oft-criticised meddling manager, fronted up at the Reds and signed a treble.

It should have been known, from that point on, that whenever Quade spoke of ‘rugby league being on the cards at some stage’ it was simply a baulk at getting some more cash from the ARU. We might be getting slightly better at identifying the efforts of players to increase their value by mentioning other codes, but we’re not there yet. Even the merest mention of rugby or league from a player of the opposite code still prompts a media furore about ‘X player signing with the enemy.’ We’ve still got some way to go in this respect, I think.

As I said in a previous post, I think Quade will make his $800,000 back over two years for the ARU, even if he doesn’t pull on a gold jersey. The impact he has on Reds crowd numbers, as well as the belief in that squad, will be enough to justify keeping him on board.

Many people might be unhappy to see Quade back, but I assure you that there are a lot of Reds fans who are very happy, and will flock to see him don the crimson next year.

But enough about Quade, as I’m sure everyone’s bored to death of him. Onto the majesty that is the Big Bash League, and the travesty that is the caps being worn by certain members of the Sydney Sixers.

Are you serious, David Warner and Steve Smith (and anyone else I didn’t notice who was wearing said cap)?

To describe, I’m sure most of you are aware of the vomit-inducing caps the kids are wearing these days. This type has moved beyond being worn by rich white boys in America attempting to emulate LeBron James, who was attempting to emulate Jay Z, who was attempting to emulate Notorious B.I.G. It is now being worn by the kids of the Sixers.

Twenty20 cricket

Twenty20 cricket

There was nothing wrong with this hat initially, in fact it was a bold statement of an undeniably cool culture. But as it’s gotten more and more mainstream, it’s gotten objectively more try-hard. The brim has become flatter and flatter, the hat more and more balloon-like over the skull. It’s current incarnation resembles someone with a bun rolled around their head, Princess Leia style, who has tried to fit a baseball cap previously worn by Andre the Giant around their head. Also note that they have sticky taped a stiff pine brim at the front.

It offers no protection for the face and the eyes from the sun, which let’s not forget used to be the primary function of a hat. Instead it makes the Sixers players like petulant 12 year olds with terrible fashion senses who yelled at their mums for three hours in the ‘Basement’ section of David Jones (ironically located on the third floor). The mother, despite knowing better, finally relented and bought them the ridiculous cap, just to save her eardrums.

I take some solace in the fact that it’s not been instituted as a club policy to wear the abomination. Brad Haddin for example, despite his equally reprehensible habit of constantly chomping at a cud of chewing gum, has elected not to wear a saucepan on his melon, opting for the more traditional, UV-protective headwear.

The cricket’s been quite enjoyable though.

(Note that I’m not usually a slagger-offerer of T20 cricket, but this particular cap is just terrible)

I said they would win! Give me chocolates!

An innings of character in a Twenty20 match? I might be going a bit batty… All this sideshow, Korean dancing by men from Jamaica, fireworks, bands playing from go-to-whoa must be beginning to have work its way into my brain. Like that black stuff from Spiderman 3. Terrible movie.

Marlon Samuels played a lone innings on Sunday in the World Twenty20 final. 78 from 56 proved to be enough to get the West Indies over the line. Well, that and 20 marvellous (thanks Ritchie) overs from the Windies bowlers, in particular a jaffa from Ravi Rampaul and Sunil Narine’s always immaculate mystery spin.

But before I go onto to talk more cricket, I will first address some housekeeping. I know I’ve been talking a lot about this weird World Twenty20 thing that no one’s been watching, but you must understand it is me grasping at relevance. This is something that was going on until yesterday, and I thought people might be interested in it. At journalism school, which I attended at some point in my life, they taught us that currency is everything in the media. I didn’t understand at first, but when I started reading all this stuff about Alan Jones and “cash for comment” I finally understood.

One friend of mine, the one with the terrible golf swing for those who want to go lynch him, even suggested that I write about Wife Carrying, which I subsequently googled and found that it is a sport of my newly native Scandinavia. Finland was the birthplace, and though I could now regale you about the ins and outs of the correct carrying style for the Estonian method, there haven’t been any Wife Carrying championships recently, so my google hits will go down if I suddenly tag a post with stuff about Alexy Kopshoratov of Russia who carried his barely legal 49.1 kilogram wife over the 253.5 metre course in the shortest time ever recorded, while drinking half a dozen beers along the way. Or maybe my hits will go up? I’m tagging it just in case.

Cricket, however, remains the focus of this post. Sorry to disappoint.

In my previous post I warned the Windies against letting me down and losing in the final, lest they feel my wrath. When they were 2/32 halfway through their 20 overs I was ready to let Mahela hoist the trophy then and there. As it turns out, unlike the Aussies, the boys who bleed maroon did not have a rule instated whereby only their top three were allowed to score a significant proportion of the runs, and the middle and lower order are allowed to contribute too.

This seems like a reasonable enough step to me, and here’s why. See, when Australia decided upon this strategy, it meant that if their top three got out quickly without scoring absurd amounts of runs that could never be chased down, they lost the game straight away. Not literally, as in they didn’t stop playing. But once the Huss was out of there Bailey and co would shut up shop, not bothering to score. It wasn’t their job, you see.

The West Indies, not having self-applied this limitation on their side, instead applied a motto of “One people, one team, one goal,” which meant they could still win the game even when their top order failed. A cunning plan implemented by the shrewdest of strategists Darren Sammy.

With all the sarcasm aside for a moment, however, Sammy did prove his value to the side which apparently was in question. Having followed his performances fairly closely since he became captain, his mediums, while gentle, have been a more regular source of wickets than most of their more fiery quicks at all levels of cricket. His batting has definitely outshone some of his younger, “more talented” top order compatriots. Where these critics get their right to question the guy who has been one of the Windies best for the past couple of years is beyond me.

Samuels came in at three and played a gem, including a six that would rival the one Brett Lee hit at the Gabba. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. He was ably assisted by Dwayne Bravo (scored runs batting at four, gasp) and a late flurry from aforementioned tactition Sammy, who tactically dispatched all and sundry balls in his vicinity for twos and fours in his strategic slogging of the Sri Lankan closers. This ensured a competitive total of near 140. Pretty good going when your openers don’t work out for you. Hint hint.

Then the bowlers got to work. Rampaul cleaned Dilshan up first rock, with a jaffa that no one except The Wall (that’s me, GDCC players will attest. Rahul Dravid lost that title after being bowled a hundred consecutive times or whatever it was) would have been able to keep out. It was one of those moments where you yell “Ooooooooooohhhhhhhh” and get up and shake around violently while your girlfriend eyes you skeptically from across the room because you’ve done this a couple of times already today and you’re watching the cricket with no beer and you’re wearing headphones like a weirdo. I did a very similar thing with the Samuels six in case you were curious.

Loud exclamation. Move around on the couch a bit. Girlfriend shakes head, keeps studying.

2 for 6 from 2 overs pretty much summed up Sammy’s performance with the ball; they couldn’t get him away even for singles, and when they attempted it they got out. Try as they might, the Sri Lankans couldn’t get any rhythm on the slow and dusty surface. Even the two titans, Mahela and Sangakkara, though they looked the most assured, couldn’t find the boundary with any regularity.

And Narine. Well. People just have no idea how to play him. I hope his Test cricket is played with just as much spirit as his Twenty20, because he could be one of the best bowlers going around in all formats pretty soon.

Come to think of it, the same could be said of the whole team. This is a good side, especially when it comes to batting. If they can find a way to take 20 wickets over five days, and with Narine and Bravo back they might have a greater chance, there’s really nothing stopping these Calypso kings from causing some serious upsets and begin their climb back up the ranking ladder.

I really hope this happens, because as Sammy said in the post match press conference, the West Indians know how to party. And God knows I love watching them partying when they win (I’m a big proponent of Gangnam Style, and all things Psy related), so maybe they could make a habit of this?

Second shameless use of Gangnam Style related celebrations on this blog in two days.

Please Mr Gayle, can we have some more?

It’s hard to be harsh on a bunch of guys that just had the life belted out of them by several tall, muscular West Indian men with cricket bats. Lord knows we’ve all been there.

But by gee those West Indian fellas can bat. Chris Gayle, not given any credit in the attitude stakes by a media who think he’s too cool for school, showed he can mix Gangnam with grit and grind out an innings. And by “grind out” I mean tally 75 not out from 41 deliveries, a score, by human standards, that is attained by slogging from the hip from ball one. The commentators still thought it was a subdued innings.

Terms like “professional” and “mature,” words not usually associated with the bash ’em, crash ’em (both on the field and in contract disputes), Chris Gayle were bandied about like tootsie rolls at a piñata party. And by the looks, the white cherry must have looked as big as a piñata to CH Gayle, and he wasn’t wearing a blindfold, just a do-rag.

9 out of 10 surveyed thought “Gangnam Style” was by Chris Gayle

The real reason people thought he was not scoring as much as usual was simply because he only faced a third of the deliveries available in the innings, despite batting the entire 20 overs. Had he faced twenty more balls there would have been nothing to stop him tonning up.

In the face of this utter bullying of their bowling by these behemoths in maroon, the Aussies looked like kids in the backyard playing against their older brothers. There simply was no chance. When guys like that decide that it’s time to step up, they do it, and there is nothing, even clawing at bigger brother’s eyes, that little brother can do about it.

These Aussies, who had bullied every other side (except Pakistan) into submission, turned into the bullied. They looked physically small. Shane Watson appeared physically dominated against the hulking figures he was playing. And that’s not to say that guile wasn’t part of the Windies plan. He succumbed, just as he did against Pakistan, to a slider from Badree as he attempted to pull off his overly-favoured deep in the crease pull shot.

When Mike Hussey was dismissed by Marlon Samuels, the contrast could not have been more stark. Samuels, in his shirt that could barely contain his bulging muscles, kicked the ball away and yelled ferociously while Hussey looked down in despair. There was nothing that could be done. Big brother had decided to play serious and needed to whoop little brother’s tiny ass.

For my own sanity’s sake I hope the same West Indies side shows up for the final. I hope Gayle knocks those ‘Lankan bowlers around with the ease he did the Aussies, because on that form no bowler that has ever played the game could bowl to those batsmen.

The slightest error in length or line was punished to the greatest possible degree. Late in the innings Henry Gayle flicked an almost perfect yorker past mid-wicket for four. I almost stopped watching, but it too addictive. It was like reading a Stieg Larsson novel: you know it’s not improving you intellectually, in fact it’s probably making you stupider, but my, the way it’s all put together, well, that’s just fine. Despite the fact they were sinking the team I support, six by six, it was too aesthetically pleasing to stop.

It was some sort of cricket drug, and I want more.

I want more K-Pop inspired dance moves. I want ridiculous, over the top celebrations. I want to see those big dudes absolutely crush the Sri Lankans this Sunday.

Because when it comes down to it, West Indians are more fun to watch than any other team in the world for whatever reason. It’s their time to win and win big, and it’s our time to enjoy the ride.

Watson looking hot for the title – Aussies tag along

Sorry about the cricket glut people, but you know what you’re getting yourself into when you click on a webpage that has a still of Andrew Symonds absolutely dominating a streaker.

What are you getting precisely? Well, more or less a random assortment  of sporting thoughts at my whim. Don’t like it? Then go read somewhere else (note: please don’t read somewhere else, you’re all I’ve got)

But mostly it’s just because I’ve run out of ideas. There. Onto the blogging.

I spoke to a dear friend of mine the other day about the ICC World Twenty20, which I am thoroughly enjoying at the minute. Some of you more avid followers (both of you) might know this dear friend as Diablo. Diablo told me that he couldn’t give two hoots about the World T20. Being a newly deflowered viewer of illicit Indian streams I thought he was crazy. Both on these streams and on Twitter people were going mental for this thing. It’s trending every time there is a game on.

Yeah, I just got Twitter, the gateway to lazy journalistic practices and me becoming a narcissistic Generation Me’er, whatever that is. Follow me @WarmingthePine.

I do promise you one thing though, I will never, ever, quote Twitter if I am attempting to break a story. News might be made on Twitter these days but how lazy do you have to be to control-C someone’s 140-character-or-less internetings and call it a news story? Gets me all worked up in my pant region.

Also know that I am a reluctant user of hashtags, and find them a reprehensible but necessary evil.

Anyway, so my friend said not many people are watching the World T20 because of Nine’s terrible coverage and generally a lack of promotion and interest. I suspect my friends with Foxtel and without a hole in one to their name might have been more interesting to talk to on this subject. Diablo is horrifyingly uninteresting to talk to at the best to times.

For all those who don’t know, Australia qualified first in their Super eight group with a couple of absolutely crushing displays against India and South Africa. Or should I say, Shane Watson qualified Australia first in their Super eight group, because at this stage the Aussie T20’ers are a bigger one man team than Newcastle Knights circa 2005. God forbid if Shane Watson were as injury prone as the latest Rugby League Immortal. Oh wait…

With four straight man-of-the-match awards to his name and at one point topping all the charts in the tournament that matter (runs, wickets and sixes) Watson looked unstoppable. What a role he was on! He was even hitting spinners for six.

At first I rubbed my eyes. An Australian batsman actually laying willow on a delivery with rotations that weren’t in the direction from whence the white seed came? What is this arcane tomfoolery, the likes of which the best cricket writers in a Australia have apparently never seen? But my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Australian batsmen are actually allowed to hit spinning balls, sometimes even for six.

The Australian Cricket team is mobbed by a bunch of others who wear the same shirt as him, including his captain

Worryingly, though, in their last game against Pakistan the soft, meaty, and probably delicious underbelly of the Australian middle order was exposed and the ravenous Pakistanis took to it as hyenas to an exposed deerling gut. Imagery, people, imagery.

The guys in our team who weren’t Warner, Watson or Hussey hardly looked like they could bat at all.

After the game George Bailey said that in Twenty20 cricket you really needed your top order to do a bulk of the scoring. I thought that was all very convenient for George to tell us that, completely absolving he and the rest of the eight guys who are supposed to be in the team too of their batting failures from the last six months.

“Hey Shane, so, um, you and Dave can score the runs and me and the boys will be out the back having steaks and beers. Cool? No? Well, I’m the captain these days so, I don’t really care.”

While convenient, it ain’t right to place so much pressure on the three best players in your side to do the bulk of the scoring every game. Sure, they’ll do a lot of scoring, but when they fail the middle order has to do its job and score runs too. It’s easy for George to pretend he doesn’t have to bat just because he’s not listed in the top three, but when the pointy end of this tournament comes along in the next few days there will be no hiding behind Shane and Dave if they happen not to fire.

Time for you and your steak-eating pals to put away the table cloth and napkins and get an appetite for runs, George. Otherwise this one man team is going nowhere, and you’ll be back with the Hobart Hurricanes before you can say “but I told Shane to score all the runs.”

That’s not good captaincy George.

Also, any reader who made it this far, know that I refrained from using a refugee boat joke somewhere in this post. Points for anyone who can guess where.

Finally, if you haven’t realised, I’m really craving steak.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair