ICC World Twenty20 September 22, 2012

The no-extravagance T20

All that obscene money-spending and bling-flashing is left to the IPL

Welcome to the Austerity Twenty20 (sponsored by Lehman Brothers). First, there was no opening ceremony and now we learn that India are wearing the same shirts they wore in the World Cup. The official line from the BCCI is that they hope the lingering aroma of victory sweat on last year's vests might, by some olfactory magic, inspire their chaps to similar efforts. In reality, they've got no money left after settling Ishant's hair-dressing bill.

This hasn't gone down well in the Indian dressing room. The days are long gone when a cricketer's only concessions to fashion were a dash of brylcream and a finely buffed pipe. You can just imagine the stifled giggles from their opponents when the Indian players are seen in public wearing last year's fashion. And perhaps being forced to model an outfit that was so 2011 explains India's shoulder-shrugging, "if we must" performance against Afghanistan.

Slashy and Grumpy, opening for the 3395th time, set the tone. The nearly run-out count was lower than usual at just two, but Slashy once again seemed slightly bored by proceedings and wandered off after a half-hearted tickle whilst Grumpy's subtle little dabs outside the off stump are in danger of giving subtle little dabs outside the off stump a bad name.

But lest he be tempted to rein in his inclinations, Gautam should take a leaf out of his opening partner's rather short book. When Virender slaps a short one in the air straight to point, does he change his gameplan? No, he does not. If the next 100 deliveries land in that spot, he will play the same shot. Some will smash into the boundary board. Some will scream over the slips. One or two might go straight up in the air. But he doesn't change his ways.

Dabbling elegantly outside the off stump is Gautam's thing, his gimmick, his shtick. Did Jimi Hendrix stop setting fire to his guitar just because he singed his eyebrows occasionally? Does Danny Morrison stop shouting just because people tell him to? Does the Pope chuck his mitre away every time Richard Dawkins publishes a book? The answer for Gautam is not less dabbling outside the off stump, but more. He could also move his feet a bit, too.

Inevitably, Afghanistan weren't good enough, but they had a go. They did drop two catches but as a frequent fumbler and spiller myself, I have to say that the importance of catches has been greatly exaggerated. The next time a coach parrots this dusty old proverb at you, look him in the eye and tell him that you respectfully disagree with him. Catches do not win matches. When was the last time a catch was given the man of the match award? Precisely.

Like lots of people, I was kind of rooting for India's opponents. If ever a nation deserves a bit of luck, it's the Afghans. Same goes for Zimbabwe. Sadly, neither of them have made it to Saturday and the tournament is waiting for its first shock. It hasn't been boring so far, but then you couldn't in all honesty say it has been exciting either. It's like getting a book voucher for your birthday. You like books, so a book voucher is useful. And you certainly appreciate the gift. It's just that you were hoping for a Ferrari.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England