Ball One – Bring back the old ways?
We’ve become a little used to it these days, but 10 an over! For 20 overs!! And even that wouldn’t be enough!!! There’s a case for Michael Lumb doing a Sunil Gavaskar, so daunting is the target.
Ball Two – No balls need sorting out
Hard on the heels (literally) of Stuart Broad’s very close call for a no ball that wasn’t that decided the Champions Trophy match between these two sides (by sending back Kane Williamson), Mitchell McClenghan was pinged for overstepping on a landing that looked much more behind the line than Broad’s. Given the inexplicable desire of bowlers to land as close to no ball territory as possible, a smudgy, flaky line isn’t much good for the onfield umpire nor the man upstairs watching replays on the HD TV. With an extra ball and a free hit (and sometimes a wicket) at stake, these decisions need to be more certain – and that’s a matter for the lawmakers, not the umpires who have been given a hospital pass on this one.
Ball Three – In the future, everyone will be David Hussey
England’s anti-Gavaskar assault on the distant target is temporarily halted by Nathan McCullum spearing a dart in at Michael Lumb’s feet and bowling him. Though a fielding captain doesn’t want 120 identical deliveries, a slow bowler aiming flat ones at the base of leg stump might be the deliveries he wants to see most often. Which is why I still find it hard to understand why there are not more davidhusseys in T20 cricket.
Ball Four – Good noise and bad noise
A full house at The Oval, with some drink taken and plenty to shout about, are making an tremendous din – and the moment the ball rises, so does the volume. But, as ever, the marketing men – who probably have no feel for the game, maybe none for sport in general – insist on playing a selection of deafening hooks from “That’s What I call Music CXXVII” at every opportunity. I’ll concede that there are times when a crowd needs geeing up, but tonight isn’t one of them. Sport is so great because it makes its own atmosphere, creates its own narratives, drives its own drama – but sport isn’t trusted to do so these days. Spend an hour with the BBC’s coverage of any sport and find out how little the organisation that defined sports coverage in the UK trusts its audience to simply enjoy sport for sport’s sake. And, after The Olympics is now etched in stone as the best way to present sport (live and on television), there’s no going back now.
Ball Five – Keep It Simple Stupid
…is never a bad idea in any walk of life. There are many ways to chase 102, but only one way to chase 202 – start big and keep going big ball after ball. There’s much to be said for simplifying cricket’s extraordinary range of possibilities – as I wrote about in this piece on Chris Gayle. Luke Wright is no Chris Gayle, but hearing captain telling him to “Swing at everything” is exactly the kind of simple game that suits him. And that is what he has done.
Ball Six – Fielding is a spectacle in itself
Resurrect one of the many all-time great cricketers who have played on this grand old ground and there’s much that they would find unrecognisable about this match. But perhaps the one aspect of today’s cricket that would most stun them, is the excellence of the fielding from every man on the paddock. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that (bar a Derek Randall or a Jonty Rhodes), the best fielders in an XI of a generation or so ago would have to up their games just to be the worst fielder in an XI of 2013. As if to prove my point, as I write, Ross Taylor takes a gasp-inducing catch inside and high at slip. If all T20 offered as a spectacle was its fielding, it would still be one helluva sight.
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