With just 2 games remaining, Is it safe to say that the T20WC21 has been boring, uninspiring, and monotonous? Aside from the match between England and South Africa – and possibly South Africa-Australia – there has not been a single close contest. Having said that a winning margin of 10 runs is still huge in the context of a T20 game.
Was it the pitches, preparation, or bubble fatigue? What was the reason for such a poor standard of cricket? Or is it simply that the limitations of the T20 format have come to the fore and as a product? Is it not suitable for the elite international level? In this blog, we review the reason behind the not-so-exciting T20WC21.
The Pitches & Preparation of T20WC21
The Pitches in the UAE are no secret. Generally, they offer turn to any spinner that is willing to spin the ball. There isn’t much for the faster bowlers except for the first couple of overs. They have to rely on cutters and slower balls to be effective. The batsmen have to be patient. Taking a look at the squads picked by the test nations, it seems they were prepared for this. They all picked at least 3 decent spin options in the squad.
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The pace bowlers were equally varied and most teams choose to bat deep. The theory of the squads selected by all the teams was spot on. Most players coming into the tournament had played in the IPL in the UAE and were acclimatized to the conditions. Pakistani players have played most of their cricket in the UAE. It has been a second home to them, they should know conditions better than any other team. Looking into this I don’t feel you can blame the pitches or preparation for such a drab tournament.
Good match vs Good Pitch
It may be said that the pitch conditions are not conducive to a good match. In the words of R. Ashwin, what is a good pitch? Is it when 210 plays 200? Is a pitch where 130 plays 120 not a good pitch? I would suggest a good pitch is one that produces a good match. A good match is one where there is an even contest between bat and ball, not a contest between two batting line up to see who can hit the most sixes. In the context of a T20, a good match for me is one that goes to the last 3 balls of the game. In this tournament, more often than not the results have been predictable after the first innings.
Analytics Vs Game situations
This for me is the biggest reason why the tournament has been forgettable. The off-field data crunching and analysis has found some pretty accurate formulas to win a game of T20 cricket. Such as Win the toss and bowl first, pick 3 wickets in the power play and you will win more often. The so-called ‘Matchups’ to keep batsmen quiet. Compared to the other formats, the variables are so few.
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It seems like, the matches can be played on paper. If the execution is 70% correct to the plan, the result will go in your favor. The only variable that comes into play is if any given player has an extraordinary day. Even when such performances take place, more often than not, the match is one-sided. The two performances that stand out in the tournament were Shaheen in the first match and Butler against Australia.
Franchise T20 Vs T20I’s
International T20 games serve no purpose to the viewing audience that wants to see close exhibiting matches. For Shaheen’s brilliant spell and Butler’s astonishing innings, we all know they are capable of such performances. The beauty of T20 cricket is at the franchise level. The games are much better to watch because the players are familiar with each other. The IPL gives you the emergence of VenkyIyer and the teams don’t have any data to analyze. Umran comes from nowhere bowling 150kmph at will, again no data to analyze.
Then there is the development of players from the previous season, again not much data to analyze. In my view T20I’s should be played by the associate nations to develop their skills and the winner of a T20 World Cup should get a spot in the 50 over world cup. We will see what happens next time but I’m sure there won’t be many close games and the quality of cricket will be as poor as it has been in T20WC21.
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