Friday, June 29, 2007


I tried to make “West Indies” into a “twenty20” pun. Like most of my efforts, it died like a shrew in a barn owl factory.

My point is this: West Indies cricket is perfectly suited to twenty20. They demonstrated their natural warming to the game yesterday by beating England by 15 runs.

The wofty, quick-fire 40s and 50s, which were criticised throughout the test series, are the ideal bed-rock for any 20-over score. And this was what the Windies’ top-order provided: Shivnarine Chanderpaul (41 off 26), Marlon Samuels (51 from 26) and Devon Smith (61 off 34) all played perfect innings to put their team in the chair behind the steering wheel – the “driving seat” if you will.

Twenty20 does not require a prolonged, grafting innings that the Windies' seem incapable of producing (Chanders aside). No endurance; not much thought; just swing the bat and wahay. Bloody fantastic.

However, the most noticeable change was in the fielding. They were a transformed team. Jonathan Agnew reckons the fielding was “a hundred times better.” I could not believe my eyes when I saw out-fielders attack the ball, competently collect it and send back a sharp return. They even managed two run-outs. Moreover, the final overs bowling of Ravi Rampaul and Dwayne Bravo showed forethought, control and discipline.

Chris Gayle reckons that the administrative mess over the last few days may have been responsible in pulling the team together. This is certainly nonsense. But, there you are.

If they keep this up then Ayalac may consider them a winner for the twenty20 World Cup.

From an England perspective, it is interesting to note that the new brooms (Dimitri Mascarenhas, Owais Shah, Ryan Sidebottom and Jonathan Trott) failed. Whereas England had to rely on “non-specialists” (Paul Collingwood and Jimmy Anderson) to buttress the assault. I’m not sure about this picking 20twenty “experts” business. I think that quality tends to shine through in most forms of the game, and sticking to the same core of players promotes a good team spirit. Like Casper.

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