June 12, 2010

Twenty20

Twenty20 as you don't know it

Andrew Hughes


New Road in the good old days when the River Severn came visiting © Getty Images
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The rainy season is an important part of the ecological cycle, bringing many benefits to the various ecosystems of the Caribbean. It does, however, have certain regrettable aspects, specifically that, in my experience, it is impossible to have a rainy season without a certain degree of precipitation. I suspect that it was the high volume of rain that falls during this time of year that led to it being called the rainy season in the first place.

You and I might think that such a season might not be the best time to stage an outdoor sport. But that is why we are not employed in an official capacity on one of the many cricket boards around the world. It turns out, you see, that a rainy season is precisely the best time to hold a Test series, just as Monday night is ideal for a major international one-day final and nine months is the appropriate length of time that should elapse between one World Cup and its successor.

Watching a Test series during the rainy season does, though, require a certain degree of optimism. The man-in-a-suit in the Sky studio was suitably ebullient; Colin Croft waxed lyrical on the subject of drainage systems and Robin Jackman at the Queen’s Park Oval brushed over damp patches and discounted gloomy clouds. But umpires are made of sterner stuff and upon consulting the lugubrious Steve Davis, it appeared that the men in white coats had followed the umpire’s first instincts on such occasions and yielded to the temptation of an early lunch.

Thank goodness then for county cricket. There is no officially designated rainy season in England, mainly because it would be devilishly tricky to determine which of the four quarters was the rainiest. So the ECB have no choice but to pencil in their fixtures and hope for the best. I say pencil, but a collection of felt-tip crayons would have been required to adequately illustrate the myriad competitions that make up the English summer. This season’s fixture wall-chart resembles an early Kandinsky and requires 3D glasses and a seven-page manual to fully decipher.

Right now, it is Twenty20 time. Now Twenty20 in England is not perhaps Twenty20 as you have come to know it. Thursday’s encounter between the Royals of Worcestershire and the Outlaws of Nottinghamshire was a day-night fixture without floodlights: day-night cricket au naturel, as it were. Naturally, there was music, but it was suitably muffled, as though emanating from a village fete a few miles away. And as a procession of Royals batsmen trod a weary path to the crease and back, the DJ should probably have ditched the stirring "Ride of the Valkyries" for something more appropriate; perhaps "Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now".

There has been lots of talk of "no-fear cricket" in the wake of England’s Caribbean triumph. That may be de rigeur in the tropics but in the damp and clammy land where Twenty20 was spawned, it is not always the best policy, particularly when Dirk Nannes is tearing in on an iffy pitch in the gathering gloom. Wickets fell with unseemly haste and although Vikram Solanki appeared to cast several despairing glances in the direction of the River Severn, sad to relate for Worcester fans, the waters did not swell up and engulf New Road, Nannes and the Outlaws and with the inevitability of a shower in the monsoon season, Nottinghamshire won.

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Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by James Lawler on (June 25, 2010, 15:19 GMT)

Loved the Blog very funny. At Lords recently we had day/night 20/20 games and thyey switched the Floodlights on in bright sunshine and the game finshed in umm sun shine. We had music, cheerleaders, a pink panther mascot. A competition a half time to win a millon Austriailian dollors by hitting a ball form a bolwing machine through a tiny hole in a target, We got quite big crowds for the games but 16 is far too many

Posted by Jeannie Peoples on (June 14, 2010, 19:16 GMT)

If only more people would hear this!

Posted by Anonymous on (June 14, 2010, 4:53 GMT)

Dear David Kirkup - the point of the piee was to make us laugh. And yeah, I laughed. I also chuckled, sniggered, and snorted. Thank you Mr Hughes!

Posted by Alex Thalis on (June 13, 2010, 13:22 GMT)

Another great article Andrew. Keep it up :)

Posted by thefamousstrauss on (June 12, 2010, 21:19 GMT)

if you confused by the county fixtures you need your head examining. three competitions the twenty20 played over June because over the long evenings and the county championship played either side of it with the pro 40 taking place mainly on Sundays to draw in the crowds. I am aware this is supposed to be a humorous article. where was the story about one county captain asking his bowlers to make the ball bounce twice before reaching the batsman. I think a certain Mr Jardine would have liked the idea of that!

Posted by david kirkup on (June 12, 2010, 13:32 GMT)

and the point of the piece was ?

Posted by Jackie L on (June 12, 2010, 12:42 GMT)

Very funny. I laughed out loud at "day-night fixture without floodlights: day-night cricket au naturel, as it were." You've caught the stoicism of watching cricket in England on a damp and gloomy evening. Maybe the Ride of the Valkyries is about spectator heroism.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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