Ahoy there! This is my personal blog which I use as my memory extension and a medium to share stuff that could be useful to others.

I have been converted!!! When Twenty20 (T20) arrived on the cricketing scene, I was very quick to dismiss it as wham-bam cricket, a doom for bowlers, etc. I enjoyed watching the formats of the game already existing before T20 arrived – One-Day Cricket and Test Cricket. However, after a couple of IPL tournaments and T20 World Cups, I now know that I was wrong to judge T20 hastily and harshly and I now wholeheartedly embrace this format of the game. Here are the reasons why I think T20 is a wonderful format and is here to stay:

  • High-Octane Cricket: Lots of Boundaries and Sixes, stumps being uprooted more often, acrobatic fielding, rocking music during breaks, close finishes/edge-of-the-seat thrillers.
  • Time Saver: An entire T20 match lasts around 3 hours. The shorter the match, the more involved the audience will be. Also, you’ll still have a huge chunk of the day remaining to do whatever you want after being entertained by a T20 match.
  • Innovation: Would you have heard of deliveries like the “slow bouncer” and shots like the “Dilscoop” had it not been for T20 Cricket? Certainly No! T20 has made cricketers think on their feet out there in the middle –  the Dilscoop introduced by Dilshan (scooping the ball backward over the heads of the batsman and wicketkeeper) is an example of such innovation. The slow bouncer and slow full toss used by Lasith Malinga (one of the best proponents of these deliveries), Jerome Taylor and a few others is an example of excellent innovation with the ball. Well, T20 is set to get all cricket coaching manuals updated.
  • Challenge: In the T20 format, every ball matters. For every ball bowled, the bowler must try something clever to get the batsman’s wicket (no more bowling without the pressure of being hit for a boundary), the batsman must make contact with the ball to ensure maximum runs are scored (no more shouldering arms or being defensive with deliberate padding), the fielders must be always switched-on and do everything possible save every run (most matches are too close to afford even an extra run). T20 offers both a mental and physical challenge to cricketers.
  • Packed Stadiums: Any sport’s survival depends on its popularity among the masses. T20 has packed stadiums like never before. T20 is attracting people who once upon a time found cricket boring. T20 is also proving to be a good family entertainer (you can get the family out for just 3 hours of entertainment, can’t you?). Packed Stadiums lead to increased revenue (ticket sales and advertising) and this makes T20 a very attractive business model for the Cricket Boards (just hope the Boards use the money wisely to develop the game around the world).

Coming back to my initial concern I had regarding T20, the ICC T20 World Cup 2009 was dominated by great bowling and proved that bowlers also have a major role and can significantly impact the result of a T20 match (not just batsman-dominated as I expected). However, perhaps, the only cricketing domain which could be adversely impacted by T20 is “batting” for the very reasons cricket purists describe T20 as a lottery or vulgar. I believe that the concern here is regarding technical batting. Will the coming generations of batsmen focus on learning the big slog and heave shots rather than straight drives, square cuts, leg glances and other technical shots? Only time will tell. That’s why I believe Test Cricket should stay on forever as it’s the purist’s game and a joy to watch in its own right. But, Test Cricket’s survival depends on the number of fans who are cricket purists and enjoy this traditional contest between bat and ball. If this number dwindles with the advent of T20, then Test Cricket could be in danger. Personally, I wish Test Cricket stays on forever as I enjoy the gruelling battles in Test cricket. However, I see absolutely no place whatsoever for the One-Day format. I believe that Test Cricket and T20 should henceforth be made the standard formats of Cricket.

Congratulations to Pakistan for becoming the unlikely, but thoroughly deserving T20 World Champions at Lords yesterday!

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The Proteas have successfully defended the title of “chokers” in their semi-final match against Pakistan in the ICC World T20 2009 tournament today.

At the post-match presentation, Graeme Smith dismissed a question alluding to his team being chokers by saying that he didn’t believe that’s the case and it was just that Pakistan was better on the day. Well, yes, T20 is a format in which the stronger team or even the in-form team is not guaranteed a victory because anybody could suddenly play as if he’s in the form of his life over a short span of 3 hours and grab victory. And that’s exactly what Shahid Afridi did today to take Pakistan into the finals.

However, given the way the Proteas have played all their matches leading up to the semi-finals, you would have been deemed perfectly sensible for having purchased a ticket to watch South Africa in the finals. The Proteas themselves believed that based on the strengths of the current team, they had nothing to worry about that nagging “chokers” tag.

But cometh the moment, cometh a crunch match, cometh the pressure and it’s déjà vu – the Proteas are on the losing side yet again. I’m very disappointed to see the Proteas lose today’s semi-final. I sincerely wanted them to win the T20 World Cup 2009, because I believe they’re a world-class team who deserve a World title, having given cricket fans terrific performances over the years. Unfortunately, they choked yet again and irrespective of how Graeme Smith and his boys react to today’s loss, they’ve lost too many crucial matches and consequently World titles to shed the title of “chokers”. Perhaps, other tags like “jinxed” and “cursed” will creep in to join “chokers” and haunt the Proteas.

Pakistan was the better side today and earned their victory. Shahid Afridi finally came to the party and I’ve never seen anybody bowl so many yorkers in a match as Umer Gul bowled today. Looking forward to see who meets Pakistan in the semi-finals – another Asian country (Sri Lanka) or the unpredictable Calypso boys (West Indies).

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In the recent crucial ICC World T20 match between India and England which finally saw the defending champions India being knocked out of the T20 World Cup, Harbhajan Singh pulled out of his delivery stride a couple of times. In the final over, when bowling to Foster, Harbhajan pulled out of his delivery stride just before delivering the third ball of the over. At the moment he pulled out, it was obvious that the non-striking batsman (Mascarenhas) was a few feet outside the popping crease to backup the striking batsman for running between the wickets. Witnessing this moment made me wonder about the laws of cricket pertaining to running out a non-striking batsman while bowling. So, here goes:

Backing up a batsman: The non-striking batsman usually backs up the striking batsman by taking a few steps towards the striking batsman during the delivery to facilitate running between the wickets by having to cover less distance. This “backing up” could have a profound impact on games, given the several close run-out decisions made using TV replays.

What does the Law say?: Law 42.15 of Cricket states that “The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. The ball shall not count in the over.”  Appendix D of the Laws of Cricket defines a delivery stride as “the stride during which the delivery swing is made, whether the ball is released or not. It starts when the bowler’s back foot lands for that stride and ends when the front foot lands in the same stride

So, as per the Laws of Cricket, Harbhajan Singh could not have run out Mascarenhas even though Mascarenhas had left the popping crease as Harbhajan Singh had stopped bowling only after commencing his delivery stride.

And now for a little bit of history. Running out a “backing up” batsman has been around for a while. Though within the Laws of Cricket, it is considered unsportsmanlike. This action became famous when Vinoo Mankad ran out Bill Brown during India’s tour of Australia in 1947 and in fact a new term “Mankad” was coined for running out a non-striking batsman who was backing up. So, Bill Brown was mankaded by Vinoo Mankad :). Another famous incident which has been recorded in the annals of Mankading occurred when Courtney Walsh refused to mankad Salim Jaffer in the 1987 World Cup (this probably cost West Indies the World Cup).

The unwritten code of cricket suggests that a bowler ought to warn the batsman at least once before mankading him.

Why have a Law in a Sport, which when followed to the letter, alludes to unsportsmanlike behaviour ? Why put the onus of watching the non-striking batsman on the bowler?

Yes, there are laws and there’s the “spirit of the game”, but then where do you draw the line? If non-striking batsmen are over-enthusiastic in backing up and cover a few yards before the ball is delivered, it could make a huge difference and possibly facilitate scoring the winning run! The onus of identifying whether a non-striking batsman is backing up early or not should be put on the umpires (after all they have fewer decisions to make with the advent of the 3rd umpire). Nowadays, especially in formats like T20, most games are very close and it’s simply wrong to blur the thin line between victory and defeat in the name of the spirit of the game, when there’s a clear law in place. Perhaps, Law 42.15 should be modified to indicate that the umpires will watch out for early backing up by non-strikers and give them two warnings before declaring them out (for stealing some distance on a run) so that the bowlers may concentrate on their main job – bowling. Visit this Cricinfo article for some more information on Mankading.

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