The final over of the day focuses on six balls that each raises a particular talking point. It is not a summary of the day – plenty of those are available elsewhere! This format allows me to post something pertinent to the match or day’s play without having had the luxury of watching all of it. Of course, readers can also post below the line where much of what’s best about 99.94 is found. As ever, my aim is to provide something which is of interest to readers and, above all else, not boring! And as for the title? Well, most people will read the posts after the players have retired to the ice baths and energy drink bars. For them, it is the final over of the day.
Ball One 1.10pm – Tsotsobe at one end, Parnell at the other. On the face of it, Tsotsobe has much less to offer than Parnell, who has been groomed for the SA XI for years. But cricket rewards more than just talent and Tsotsobe knows his job, knows his action and has the discipline and mental strength to stick to his plans. Parnell is the more likely wicket-taker on flat tracks, but every one-day outfit needs a Tsotsobe-like bowler and I suspect he’ll be a bigger factor in the World Cup than his more talented fellow left-arm seamer.
Ball Two 1.40pm – 17 overs gone and India are 60-1. On a wicket that has no terrors, India are not scoring quickly, but nor are they losing wickets. The commentators seem to be happy with India’s progress, but Cricketbetlive.com has South Africa as strong favourites and I agree. Limited overs cricket is about resources and India have allowed too many dot balls (31 of Tsotsobe’s 36 deliveries to date, for example) wasting valuable scoring opportunities. As I write this “ball”, Kohli is run out, as the pressure tells.
Ball Three 1.50pm – In a shot born of frustration, Tendulkar falls to a forcing stroke. It’s still convention to talk of benefit of having wickets in hand in limited overs cricket, but I’m not convinced that’s as important as it used to be. In the first Aus vs Eng T20I, Aus had six wickets in hand at the end of their dig, but had failed to accelerate. In response, England lost wickets regularly, but were up with the rate throughout. England won.
Ball Four 2.05pm – One of the differences between Test cricket and one-day cricket is that it’s usually the bowlers’ job to make something happen in Test cricket, but in ODIs and T20Is, it’s usually the batsmen’s job. India have just scored their first boundary for 75 balls, which suggests that India have let SA bowl to them, rather than creating the lengths and lines they prefer by using the crease. Power matters these days, but old-fashioned footwork does too. Has the influence of big bats, IPL riches and the batting style of Sehwag destroyed the Indian tradition of dancing up and down the wicket, creating lengths and angles?
Ball Five 2.30pm – Nobody would ever claim that Johan Botha is a better bowler than Dale Steyn, but Steyn’s extra pace gives many more scoring options and eases the batsman’s need to generate bat speed. I’ve been claiming for some time that T20 sides will soon see 11 David Husseys taking the field to bat positively, field enthusiastically and bowl “pace off the ball” darts. In ODIs, a captain will soon bite the bullet and plan to bowl no more than 15 overs or so of real pace with the hard ball, then settle into 35 overs of 100kmh darts. The game will be the poorer for that.
Ball Six 3.10pm – One of the key skills of one-day cricket is the ability to judge a pitch and set a putative target for the fifty overs, adjusting it as wickets are lost (or retained). MS Dhoni is not short of experience, is the captain of India and has been at the crease since the 19th over, so has a free hand in making such a judgement. With nine overs to be bowled, Dhoni appears to have assessed the pitch as a 240-250 strip, having had that figure in mind for some time. I’ve a feeling that he has under-estimated par by 20 runs or so, but time will tell.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.