May 16, 2010

ICC World Twenty20

England have plenty to play for

Kanishkaa Balachandran

The English counties will be pinning their hopes on a World Twenty20 win because a big booty there could help bail themselves out of their financial woes, writes Vic Marks in the Observer. Several Test grounds have been lured into making expensive developments, only to realise there is a limited amount of international cricket. A win bonus should change things.

Around the counties they will be hoping for a surge of interest as a consequence of England's advance to the final. When India won the first World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007 the ramifications were enormous. A format that was despised in India was suddenly embraced. The dollar signs started to flash and the entrepreneurs swooped. An English victory in Barbados today would not have such a dramatic impact, but it could invigorate the Twenty20 tournament here in June and July.

In the Sunday Times, Simon Wilde writes that Paul Collingwood should warn his team against giving Australia an escape route, like Pakistan did in the semis.

Australia also look vulnerable with who follows them. Neither Brad Haddin nor Clarke, who have lately come in at three and four, have had good tournaments; there is a growing view in Australia that Clarke is not worth a place in this format as a player. Australia have been relying on a deadly lower middle order for salvation, Cameron White and the Hussey brothers having hit 28 sixes between them.

In the same paper, Martin Johnson looks back at England's forgettable history in major tournament finals.

In the Telegraph, former captain Michael Vaughan feels that a World T20 win for England will rank higher than the Ashes.

And if we win we will have beaten a fine Australian side in the final, and it will send out a signal to the world that we are playing good cricket. It would be a remarkable achievement for Paul Collingwood and Andy Flower, who deserves great credit for what he has done with this team, but regardless of today's result England can look forward to a bright future in one-day cricket.

In the same paper, Steve James credits the man behind the scenes, Andy Flower, for England's rise.

But, somehow, this is how the wheel has turned. Flower has become an astute and authoritative leader. Persuasive, too, in coaxing a most reluctant Collingwood to retake the reins. And Collingwood has improved. He is clearly still no tactical genius and in this tournament he has had a stinker with the bat (an average of precisely 8.16). Win today and history will not record such technicalities.

In the Hindustan Times, Anand Vasu praises Australia's semi-final hero Michael Hussey. Listening to the man popularly known as Mr Cricket, is like hearing the heartbeat of Australian cricket.

To look into Hussey’s eyes as he spoke was to understand the Australian passion for the game. There’s little doubt that India’s cricketers, and fans, are among the most passionate in the world, but the Australian affair is a wholly different one. It’s not the kind that results in houses being tarred after a loss or angry fans smashing windshields of the cars of players who have failed. The Australian way is to take the game so seriously as to demand the best of each player every time. It is an impatience with those who are mentally soft or can’t execute basic skills properly. There’s no time for someone who isn’t as fit as he possibly could be or fields even one percent worse than is humanly possible through sheer preparation and practice.

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Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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