Like most sports, the enjoyment of a cricket match is dependent on how much of a contest it is, that is, how equal the chances of winning for each team are. As such, matches between Associate nations and major Test nations are almost always viewed with disinterest: the gap between the professionalism and quality of these two sets of nations is so immense that many of the ODI and T20I records are skewed because of these matches.
In some instances, however, these matches will provide a glimpse of cricketing brilliance from that Associate nation. For instance, Dwayne Leverock’s flying one-handed catch for Bermuda in the 2007 ICC World Cup comes to mind, even though the match itself was inconsequential and uninteresting.
One of the difficulties with following domestic Twenty20 competitions is that the schedule of matches rattles along at such a high pace that it’s hard to keep track of the interesting events. So, this article is a guide to the noteworthy themes and events to come out of the first quarter of the 2015/16 Big Bash League.
As Cricket Australia’s National Selection Panel mulls over the make-up of the eleven for the Boxing Day Test, there is one name that should be debated. That name isn’t Shaun Marsh or Joe Burns, the two batsmen slated to be dropped to make way for Usman Khawaja. It is Ed Cowan’s name that should be in the minds of the selectors.
When you survey Dale Steyn’s bowling statistics, it seems obvious why he is considered to be one of the greatest pace bowlers of the modern era. While 402 wickets at an average of 22 and strike rate of 41 is certainly enough to warrant this status, it is the consistency of his record across all the Test playing nations that truly illustrates his ability. Against nearly every national side, his bowling average is less than 23.5 and his strike rate is less than 45.
Twenty20 cricket is a unique form of cricket in that the domestic game can be considered to be bigger than the international game. While there has been an ICC World Twenty20 every two years (and every four years after 2016), the Indian Premier League and the Champions League T20 have commanded just as much attention and involved higher quality cricket. The various domestic T20 leagues such as the Big Bash, Caribbean Premier League and Natwest T20 Blast all produce quality Twenty20 cricket. As such, there’s enough data to viably produce an all-time Twenty20 XI using these domestic matches and the international ones.
AB de Villiers
MS Dhoni (c) (wk)
12th man: Brendon McCullum
So at the top of the order we have Watson and Gayle, who have been consistent Twenty20 world beaters in terms of their explosive batting. Pietersen and de Villiers have that unique ability to rotate the strike and score boundaries, building up the total quickly in a risk-free manner. Bravo, Dhoni and Pollard all have the capability to build an innings and hit out. Dhoni is a particularly key member of the side as captain, wicket-keeper and main finisher of the side. Afridi is a handy number eight in terms of his ridiculous striking.
In terms of the bowling, I opted for the pace of Malinga and Tait to open the bowling because of their wicket-taking incisiveness and superb death bowling. Narine and Afridi form a great spin partnership of offspin and legspin, which is both economical and attacking. Bravo, Watson and Pollard can form the support bowling for these four and still attack as well.
Sport in England consists of cricket in the summer and football in the winter. While cricket has been a major part of life in England, it has struggled to gain traction throughout the rest of Europe.* As a result, whenever I mention the word “cricket” to an European, their eyes inevitably glaze over. Their minds turn to the flashier sports like football and basketball. In the case of non-sports followers, cricket is just a more staid, dressier version of those pointless activities where thousands of people obsess over the movement of a ball. As such, I’ve developed a few techniques to woo (non-English) Europeans over to the sport of cricket.
If you are a cricket fan, think for a second about all the female international cricketers you know. Chances are that most of you -myself included before writing this article – can only name Ellyse Perry and Charlotte Edwards.
This isn’t necessarily the fault of the media outlets: apart from tennis and martial arts, women’s sport hasn’t really managed to achieve mainstream popularity. However, the quality and competitiveness of women’s cricket still warrants more attention than it is currently receiving. Even Perry and Edwards haven’t received the coverage they deserve. Perry is largely in the news because of her modelling shoots, while Edwards has only managed to scrape her way in by amassing every record there is in women’s cricket.
But merely providing more coverage to women’s cricket isn’t enough. You can only engage with the sport if you understand the details. What’s a good score in women’s ODI cricket? Is a half-century a significant achievement? What are the bowling tactics? Is beating Australia a significant achievement?
One of the issues with domestic Twenty20 leagues now is the degree of player movement that takes place between the various teams. When players stay in one team and win matches, they have a chance to be heroes and become identified with the team. As a result of this player movement, many teams fail to form a bond with their prospective fan-bases, which continuously has to re-adjust their expectations of who will be in the coloured shirts. So, this is my attempt to just detail the key players of the 2015/16 Big Bash League.
Rightly or wrongly, in September 2015, the West Indies Cricket Board decided to hand the reins of the Test team from 66-Test stalwart wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin over to the 23-year-old medium-fast bowling all-rounder with sixteen wickets from eight matches. That young man’s name is Jason Holder.
As I rub my eyes from another late night of following the Australian cricket season while on Greenwich Mean Time, people often ask me, “What’s the point of doing that? Why don’t you just watch/listen/read the scores later?” Like with most facets of cricketing fanaticism, it puzzles the casual observer.
Admittedly, this compulsion to follow a sports game live is not unique to cricket. But that does not mean it isn’t baffling. If you do not know the result, why is watching a pre-recorded match so different from watching it live? Unless you’re a Harry Potter fanatic, a novel is not made any less interesting by reading it well after its publication date. When you watch a delayed episode of America’s Next Top Model on non-American television, as long as you’ve stayed away from Twitter, the drama of the elimination stages still rings true.
Even if you do know the end result, then it should not prevent you from enjoying the actual match. Although everyone in the Western world knows the ending to Romeo and Juliet, no English literature student has said, “Oh no! This is ruined! I already know what happens.” Why do people still watch highlights after the match is already over? They’ve just seen the match and know what happens already.