Monday 17 May 2010

A curious feeling: win, England, T20, world [reshuffle as appropriate]

It's how all tournaments should be, and not just because England, you know... won [still seems strange to be writing those words]. It was succinct, sharp and progressive on and off the field. T20 is a subtly different to time last year, more understood by players and coaches and driven ever forwards by some quite extraordinary skills.

If you want to obscure brilliance, hide it in plain sight. In 1979, as a young pup, I went the England v West Indies world cup final at Lord's with my dad. We watched from under the clock in the old Compton Stand as West Indies, led by King Viv's 138 and Collis King's brutal, forgotten 86, got the total to 286 in 60 overs. Back then, a score like that looked like the sheer ice cliffs of Everest [England lost by 92 runs].

That's how much the game has changed. It was fitting, as this new hurricane of power settled in to stay, that the man who kick-started the modern one day game, Sanath Jayasuriya, most likely took his leave. The old fella's an MP now, a venerable man, yet - as Joe Frazier's trainer said to Joe after the 14th round in Manila - 'it's over, but no-one will ever forget what you did'. In the golden glow of hindsight, Sri Lanka in '96 lit the way.

So as the game speeds ever on - England start a Test match next week - we should sit for a minute and reflect on the pace of change, demonstrated as much by England's development as by anything else. Here's the player-by-player:

Michael Lumb
137 runs at 19.57, SR 141.23, HS 33
If ever you need an example of stats meaning everything and nothing, look at Lumb. He didn't score heavily, but he was all about intent. A Hayden-sized unit, brutal straight and square, his mindset never altered. He places the correct value on his wicket. Some newspaper writers do not fully understand this yet, but they will... England's tone setter.

Craig Kieswetter
222 runs at 31.71, SR 116.84, HS 63
When KP went home for the birth of little KP, he watched a bit of England's third super-eight game on TV. He noted how still Kieswetter kept his head - the true mark of batsmanship. His hitting is thrilling, and he hits in complimentary areas to Lumb, making bowling plans a nightmare. All he needs to do is learn how to knock a single.

Kevin Pietersen
248 runs at 62.00, SR 137.77, HS 73*
Anyone watching the IPL would have been unsurprised by Pietersen's resurrection. Yes, he's recaptured his game, as he said in every interview. But he now understands absolutely what it is to bat at three in T20 cricket. The position is his. Indelibly, he confronted and destroyed the tournament's two fastest bowlers, Shaun Tait and Dale Steyn - mental disintegration in practice.

Paul Collingwood
61 runs at 10.16, SR 103.38, HS 16
Forget the form, what he gave and gained is priceless. Earned that MBE now, hasn't he...

Eion Morgan
183 runs at 36.60, SR 128.87, HS 55
The freak. Witness the joy of the new. Has ice in his blood too. When people ask if he can play Test cricket or not, just remember that they didn't believe KP could, either. It's peculiarly English to be suspicious of a] talent and b] change. Morgan embodies both.

Luke Wright
90 runs at 30.00, SR 123.28; 1 over, BB 1-5, Econ 5.00
That over is worth a mention - Wright showed nerve, and got Cameron White with a thoughtful wider ball. There's a case for having a full-on batter at six. Wright needs to accept the challenge and become one.

Michael Yardy
20 overs, BB 2-19, Econ 6.80; 8 runs at 4.00, SR 114.28, HS 8*
An inspired selection. Just goes to show that there is something endlessly weird about a bloke who runs up slow and bowls faster than you'd think. It's been working forever.

Tim Bresnan
22 overs, BB 1-20, Econ 7.18; 41 runs at 21.50, SR 136.66, HS 23*
The Michael Lumb of our bowlers - set the tone. He's a million miles from Botham but he has something of Beefy's clarity of approach.

Graeme Swann
22 overs, BB 3-24, Econ 6.54; 9 runs at --, SR 112.50, HS 7*
Well he won't shut up now, will he? Nor should he. There's wonderful skill to what he does, and bravery too. England's outstanding bowler.

Stuart Broad
20.5 overs, BB 2-21, Econ 6.72
Ian Chappell slaughtered Broad on commentary in the final, and you could kind of see his point. Plenty of teams would not tolerate the attitude, whatever he delivers. But the flip side of his moaning is the ballsy nature that had him catching Cameron White after making an arse of himself under a skier a few balls before.

Ryan Sidebottom
21.3 overs, BB 3-23, Econ 7.44
It would be churlish to cavil - Sidders pulled it round - but he still looks England's most collarable bowler. Hard to see him keeping Jimmy Anderson out for much longer, especially in the sub-continent at the 50-over world cup, but Ryan, we'll always have Barbados...

Best story of the tournament: Afghanistan

The OB All-star XI:

1. Mahela Jayawardene [SL]
2. Craig Kieswetter [Eng]
3. KP [Eng]
4. Umar Akmal [Pak]
5. Eion Morgan [Eng]
6. Cameron White [Aus]
7. Daniel Vettori [NZ]
8. Mitchell Johnson [Aus]
9. Graeme Swann [Eng]
10. Stuart Broad [Eng]
11. Dirk Nannes [Aus]


Barry said...

The big difference was Lumb and Kieswetter opening the batting instead of tortoises like Vaughan, Bell and co.

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John Holmes said...

Any way I re-shuffle it, it still sounds great !

Brit said...

Great stuff - you and England.

Lumb also set the tone of the final with that brilliant run out of Warner. That shook 'em right up and they didn't recover until the brazen husseys got together, by when it was too late.

Anonymous said...

your analysis is excellent as allways! though about sanath jaysuriya changing the game, i think actually it was martin crowe in previous world cup played in australia/newzealand who introduced mark greatbatch (the name could be incorrect) who started hitting above the fielders in 30yrd circle in the first 15 overs, crowes other innvoation also isnt much credited : deepak patel the offspinner balling or even opening the bowling for kiwis. myself an indian though :)

Tom Redfern said...

Crikey, you were everywhere
5th test 1976
World Cup 1979

Did this golden age where father took son to watch cricket, get tickets cheaply and watch so many titans duke it out really exist?

Life, cricket must have been a disappointment ever since, no?

The Old Batsman said...

Greyblazer - will do!

Anon, you're right about Crowe - he also came up with an early version of T20 if I remember rightly?

Tom - yeah I was king viv's zelig for a while. The next time I saw him after that was at a B&H final and he got 118. He didn't fail until I saw him in the next world cup final, against india.
It was the prices I think. My dad's refusing to go to the Aus Eng ODI at the rosebowl that I've got tickets for because of the cost. Partly because they have to pay so much to have the grounds redeveloped to get the matches in the first place...

Mark said...

I was that WCF too OB, right in front of where Derek Randall took a running catch on the midwicket boundary to dismiss Collis King (about 85 runs too late!!!)

Didn't see you there though, so tempted to call 'bluff'!

The Old Batsman said...

Didn't see you wither. What were you wearing?