World Twenty20 2012 October 10, 2012

Well, that was all a bit strange

Why West Indies' World Twenty20 win was mucho bizarro
25

The 2012 World Twenty20 final will go down in the annals of cricket as one of the oddest matches in the game's history. Glorious, but odd. A magnificent triumph for a West Indies team that had comfortably avoided magnificent triumphs for most of the last decade and a half. But still odd. Few textbooks on How To Win T20 Matches would suggest not scoring a run off the bat in the first 16 balls of the match, or advocate the tactical merits of being 14 for 2 at the end of the six-over Powerplay, or sagely stroke their chin before strongly advising hitting only one boundary in the first 11 overs whilst limiting your score to 38 for 2.

Fortunately for West Indies, they had access to the only copy of that book, and followed its masterful strategy to perfection. Even after Marlon Samuels' startlingly brilliant outbreak, during which he hit Lasith Malinga - a bowler rated by no less a source than the renowned cricket website and source of all truth and knowledge, ESPNcricinfo, as the most effective bowler over the history of the IPL ‒ for five sixes and a four in eight balls, they still posted a score of just 137.

The West Indian bowlers had been the least economical of any of the Super Eight teams until the semi-final stage (conceding almost eight runs per over), and they had never beaten Sri Lanka in a T20 international. In all T20Is between the top eight international teams, teams defending a first-innings score of between 130 and 149 had won just 12 of 41 matches, and on the ten occasions on which they had tried to defend a score of under 150 in a T20I, they had won only two, tied two, and lost six, the most recent of those defeats being when the same Sri Lanka side they now faced chased down 130 with nine wickets and almost five overs to spare just eight days earlier. And by chased down, I mean chased down in the manner that a police motorcyclist chases down an escaped tortoise on a pensioner's mobility scooter.

It was, therefore, a surprise that West Indies won. And an eyebrow-singeing surprise that they ultimately won at a canter. Having taken 19 wickets in their first five matches, in both the semi-final and final they bowled out their opposition in under 20 overs. If the success of Sunil Narine was not unexpected, the other lynchpins of the Caribbean constriction of the Sri Lankan batsmen had been keeping their economical run-saving powder drier than the Atacama Desert through the rest of the tournament.

Captain Darren Sammy, who had taken 2 for 125 in his 15 overs in the tournament, took 2 for 6 in two overs in the heart of Sri Lanka's innings in the final. Samuels had bowled eight overs in the first six games of the tournament - and taken a less than frugal 2 for 93 (2 for 110 from nine, if you include his almost-tournament-ending Super Over against New Zealand). In the final, he took 1 for 15 from 4. And conceded zero boundaries - those other nine overs had been spanked for ten fours and five sixes.

This was a match that left the cricketing world's flabber well and truly gasted. The most devastating T20 batsman in the world scored 3 off 16 balls. The format's most devastating fast bowler took 0 for 54 in 4 overs. It all ended with Caribbean cricketers doing a South Korean dance. (Until Sunday's final, the only appearance of "gangnam" on a cricket ground had been the noise Mike Gatting used to make when chomping into a particularly appetising chicken sandwich.)

One of T20's weaknesses as a format is that there can be a lack of narrative variety from one match to the next. This final had an unexpected destination, and arrived there via a completely baffling route, as if someone had spilt scalding hot chocolate over its cricketing GPS and said: "Right, fire her up and let's see where this takes us."

It was a grand climax to a tournament, which, after a week of phoney-war group matches, provided a ten-day frenzy of drama. A World Twenty20 has that rarest of all sporting commodities - rarity. It happens for two and a half weeks every two years, and is the only international T20 that anyone (a) takes any notice of, or (b) genuinely cares about, and is the only T20 cricket where the teams have any meaningful identity. Even if you are not especially enamoured of the T20 format itself, these factors, plus the unpredictability of the results T20 generates in any given match, allied to the format of the tournament, combine to create a heady cocktail that has rapidly become one of the highlights of the world cricket schedule.

● Why did West Indies triumph? Because ‒ and only because ‒ they followed the blueprint for World Twenty20 success, outlined in my podcast at the start of the tournament. They started badly. Perfectly badly. This historically flawless campaign strategy was established by India in 2007, and successfully mimicked by Pakistan two years later and by England in 2010.

This time, Sammy's men won only one of their first five matches - in their two rain-shortened group matches, they lost to Australia, and had to settle for a no-result against Ireland, then, in the Super Eight phase, beat England, were obliterated by Sri Lanka, and tied with New Zealand. It was a textbook, beautifully orchestrated campaign, involving doing as little as possible to reach the knockout stages, to the extent that they only squeaked into the semi-finals courtesy of Tim Southee's "Oh Whoops" Super Over.

The trophy was now inevitably theirs. They wrapped it up clouting the two teams who had foolishly dominated the early stages, and who had both beaten West Indies by nine wickets, stupidly rendering their own eventual demise utterly unavoidable. The group stages in Bangladesh in 2014 should be fascinating. And Southee has taken his place alongside the likes of Ambrose, Marshall, Holding and Wes Hall as one of the most important bowlers in West Indies history.

● Marlon Samuels would be a contender for the 2012 World Cricketer of The Year award, if the 2012 World Cricketer of The Year award had not already been awarded in September, with three and a half months of year 2012 still in the pipeline, including a major international tournament.

His Test performances against England and New Zealand were of classical elan, and some of the purest off-side strokeplay anyone could dream of seeing. He played with explosive power in the World Twenty20, and his innings in the final was one of the most influential in any major limited-overs match. When he was out for 78 off 56 (including 52 off the last 19 balls he faced), the rest of his team had scored 26 for 5 off 47. The next highest score in the match was Jayawardene's 33, and the 31-year-old Jamaican scored more than the other ten Sri Lankans put together, whilst sweetly clobbering six of the eight sixes in the match. It was one of the great modern innings. What was he doing in his 20s?

● A quick stat. Samuels' innings was the 58th score of 70 or more in the first innings of a T20 International. Forty-six of those scores have resulted in wins (plus one in a tie, and 11 in defeat) - an 84% win rate. Twenty of the 30 scores of 70-plus in the second innings of T20Is have ended in victory (67%). Sixty-five per cent of first-innings fifties have ended in victory in T20Is; also, 65% of first-innings 70s in ODIs since 2005 have contributed to a win. So, in summary, scoring 70 or more in the first innings of an ODI is a good idea. Especially if your team-mates are going to score only 54 other runs between them.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jerry on October 14, 2012, 0:42 GMT

    Southee has taken his place alongside the likes of Ambrose, Marshall, Holding and Wes Hall as one of the most important bowlers in West Indies history. sheer class!

  • Sir Francis on October 13, 2012, 6:28 GMT

    Firstly, to Govi. Without Stats Andy has no reason to live.

    2ndly, going by this match report there is obviously zero chance of match fixing by either team. At all.! Not even a tiny bit. Really.

  • Trent on October 11, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    Hilarious and beautifully written article. Well done.

    "We came for Lara, we stayed for cricket." - Edmond Grimes

  • Anil on October 11, 2012, 1:40 GMT

    Brilliant, as always. Summing up Samuels as "What was he doing in his 20s?" was a perfect culmination of the context, and it made me burst into lively laughter. Treasurable writing, this.

  • ZuHaiB on October 10, 2012, 21:52 GMT

    "And Southee has taken his place alongside the likes of Ambrose, Marshall, Holding and Wes Hall as one of the most important bowlers in West Indies history." Absolutely Hilarious ....

  • Anonymous on October 10, 2012, 21:03 GMT

    Andy, you always crack me up. And also great job in unearthing semiserious or sometimes serios yet funny statistical insights. Kudos!

  • Harlequin on October 10, 2012, 14:54 GMT

    Hahaha, the Mike Gatting line was quite close to getting me in trouble with my boss (I am reading this at work and had to bite my lip to stop myself laughing!)

  • Sharma basdeo on October 10, 2012, 14:46 GMT

    Sarcastic remarks are not always funny.The basic factor in T-20 Cricket is performance on the day on the field of play.West stuck to their guns and never did give up.THEY HAD THE BOWLING AMMUNITION TO DO THE JOB ON THE DAY IN QUESTION.AND THEY DID IT SO MAGNIFICIENTLY.

  • Anonymous on October 10, 2012, 14:22 GMT

    Excellent. Shows that humour can be firmly underpinned by honest statistics.

  • Somnath Paul on October 10, 2012, 12:17 GMT

    Another master piece from Andy.

  • Jerry on October 14, 2012, 0:42 GMT

    Southee has taken his place alongside the likes of Ambrose, Marshall, Holding and Wes Hall as one of the most important bowlers in West Indies history. sheer class!

  • Sir Francis on October 13, 2012, 6:28 GMT

    Firstly, to Govi. Without Stats Andy has no reason to live.

    2ndly, going by this match report there is obviously zero chance of match fixing by either team. At all.! Not even a tiny bit. Really.

  • Trent on October 11, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    Hilarious and beautifully written article. Well done.

    "We came for Lara, we stayed for cricket." - Edmond Grimes

  • Anil on October 11, 2012, 1:40 GMT

    Brilliant, as always. Summing up Samuels as "What was he doing in his 20s?" was a perfect culmination of the context, and it made me burst into lively laughter. Treasurable writing, this.

  • ZuHaiB on October 10, 2012, 21:52 GMT

    "And Southee has taken his place alongside the likes of Ambrose, Marshall, Holding and Wes Hall as one of the most important bowlers in West Indies history." Absolutely Hilarious ....

  • Anonymous on October 10, 2012, 21:03 GMT

    Andy, you always crack me up. And also great job in unearthing semiserious or sometimes serios yet funny statistical insights. Kudos!

  • Harlequin on October 10, 2012, 14:54 GMT

    Hahaha, the Mike Gatting line was quite close to getting me in trouble with my boss (I am reading this at work and had to bite my lip to stop myself laughing!)

  • Sharma basdeo on October 10, 2012, 14:46 GMT

    Sarcastic remarks are not always funny.The basic factor in T-20 Cricket is performance on the day on the field of play.West stuck to their guns and never did give up.THEY HAD THE BOWLING AMMUNITION TO DO THE JOB ON THE DAY IN QUESTION.AND THEY DID IT SO MAGNIFICIENTLY.

  • Anonymous on October 10, 2012, 14:22 GMT

    Excellent. Shows that humour can be firmly underpinned by honest statistics.

  • Somnath Paul on October 10, 2012, 12:17 GMT

    Another master piece from Andy.

  • Amol on October 10, 2012, 11:49 GMT

    Andy, You are the only person who I've seen is as good with words as you are with numbers...and with a brilliant sense of humour to match. Can I ask what are your views about 70 being the new 100 for Twenty20s? (Like they've started showing 30 plus scores) And why not take away the rule of dividing it by no of times you are out and just divide by innings actually "batted". That rule is only valid in tests where being "not out" and consuming time has some meaning. In shorter formats scoring runs while getting out has more meaning than not scoring and remaining not out. What do you think?? Amol

  • Pakman on October 10, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    Strange, it was. Strange enough to make me want to audit the SL players accounts.

    "Southee has taken his place alongside the likes of Ambrose, Marshall, Holding and Wes Hall as one of the most important bowlers in West Indies history."

    Hilarious! Comedy Gold.

  • Trisha on October 10, 2012, 11:37 GMT

    Mike Gatting's Gangnam!! Awesome as usual, Andy.

  • Ravinarayanan K.R. on October 10, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    This is an excellent piece of writing on the Carribean triumph in the 4th T20 World Cup.Kudos to the West Indies team for showing the true gumption in the run up to the Final and victorious in the end. This was a typical team work and everybody contributing their best on the field. And a true Captain Sammy believed in his team and a Gangnam Style dance is inevitable. I wish and hope the Carribeans carry on from this and bring more laurels and accolades in the years to com. WISH THEM GOOD LUCK.

  • Srinivas Maganty on October 10, 2012, 10:56 GMT

    Lots of stats for intake as with all Zaltzman (by the way, that's an exotic surname) stories but the "policeman chasing an escaped tortoise on a pensioner's mobility scooter" did for me.

  • Brinda on October 10, 2012, 10:55 GMT

    "And Southee has taken his place alongside the likes of Ambrose, Marshall, Holding and Wes Hall as one of the most important bowlers in West Indies history." - ROFL- truly a gem!

  • Mohammed Zaferulla Khan on October 10, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    "They wrapped it up clouting the two teams who had foolishly dominated the early stages, and who had both beaten West Indies by nine wickets, stupidly rendering their own eventual demise utterly unavoidable." That is some statement. Hilarious.

  • govi on October 10, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Common Andy, This article is not your's. Stats & match reports are for other people to do. We expect hilarious articles from you. Don't change your style.

  • Shouldas-Wouldas-Couldas on October 10, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    “Nerves”, “Toss”, “22 yards of Premadasa Sandy Beach”, Gayle’s verbal assault/rhetoric and Samuels's “extraordinary onslaught” were deciding factors ! **At 48/2 (after 12 overs), looked as if West Indians are “TRYING TO SAVE A TEST MATCH on last day/session”! **Gayle’s verbals ( Sorry Sri Lanka, Cup is OURS etc ) reminded me of the Daley Thompson telling Jurgen Hingsen before 1984 Olympics, “YOU ARE HERE TO COMPETE WITH OTHERS FOR SILVER MEDAL – BECAUSE GOLD IS MINE”. ** Winning toss - bat first is massive (unfair) advantage on these kind of pitches ! ** Whose idea was it to play both (women & men) finals on a tiring/dying/crumbling pitch ? ** Nature’s intervention/defining moment : Mahela panicked with rain drops falling ( S/L way behind on D/L ) and played rash shots. ** Andy, thanks – for multiplying the entertainment – fabulous write ups !

  • Bugler on October 10, 2012, 9:19 GMT

    You forgot the most important reason that West Indies won: batting first, they scored an odd number of runs (Sammy going so far as to run one short in the last over) and lost an even number of wickets.

  • Cricinfo on October 10, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    SL WI good

  • Arun_Daniel on October 10, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    There are no longer 'tied' matches in T20 Internationals.When it goes into the super over, the team winning the super over is the winner of the match. The author should've known better!

  • david on October 10, 2012, 8:20 GMT

    A good sporting event combines form and unpredictability. Because randomness far outweighs the effects of talent level in the T20 format, form is almost inconsequential and results largely meaningless. Also, whilst it is true that this competition is "the the only international T20 that anyone (a) takes any notice of, or (b) genuinely cares about", isn't it strange then that England's T20 captain Stuart Broad prefaced his thoughts on England T20 going-forward post-semi-final defeat by saying that he didn't know when the next T20 World Cup was?

  • Sanjeeb Kumar on October 10, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    The West Indies cricketers have always believed in getting maximum outcome of minimum input.Andy is spot on. Why bother against Sri Lanka and Australia early on if you could beat them at will later.

  • rk on October 10, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    "And Southee has taken his place alongside the likes of Ambrose, Marshall, Holding and Wes Hall as one of the most important bowlers in West Indies history" - funny as always.

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  • rk on October 10, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    "And Southee has taken his place alongside the likes of Ambrose, Marshall, Holding and Wes Hall as one of the most important bowlers in West Indies history" - funny as always.

  • Sanjeeb Kumar on October 10, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    The West Indies cricketers have always believed in getting maximum outcome of minimum input.Andy is spot on. Why bother against Sri Lanka and Australia early on if you could beat them at will later.

  • david on October 10, 2012, 8:20 GMT

    A good sporting event combines form and unpredictability. Because randomness far outweighs the effects of talent level in the T20 format, form is almost inconsequential and results largely meaningless. Also, whilst it is true that this competition is "the the only international T20 that anyone (a) takes any notice of, or (b) genuinely cares about", isn't it strange then that England's T20 captain Stuart Broad prefaced his thoughts on England T20 going-forward post-semi-final defeat by saying that he didn't know when the next T20 World Cup was?

  • Arun_Daniel on October 10, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    There are no longer 'tied' matches in T20 Internationals.When it goes into the super over, the team winning the super over is the winner of the match. The author should've known better!

  • Cricinfo on October 10, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    SL WI good

  • Bugler on October 10, 2012, 9:19 GMT

    You forgot the most important reason that West Indies won: batting first, they scored an odd number of runs (Sammy going so far as to run one short in the last over) and lost an even number of wickets.

  • Shouldas-Wouldas-Couldas on October 10, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    “Nerves”, “Toss”, “22 yards of Premadasa Sandy Beach”, Gayle’s verbal assault/rhetoric and Samuels's “extraordinary onslaught” were deciding factors ! **At 48/2 (after 12 overs), looked as if West Indians are “TRYING TO SAVE A TEST MATCH on last day/session”! **Gayle’s verbals ( Sorry Sri Lanka, Cup is OURS etc ) reminded me of the Daley Thompson telling Jurgen Hingsen before 1984 Olympics, “YOU ARE HERE TO COMPETE WITH OTHERS FOR SILVER MEDAL – BECAUSE GOLD IS MINE”. ** Winning toss - bat first is massive (unfair) advantage on these kind of pitches ! ** Whose idea was it to play both (women & men) finals on a tiring/dying/crumbling pitch ? ** Nature’s intervention/defining moment : Mahela panicked with rain drops falling ( S/L way behind on D/L ) and played rash shots. ** Andy, thanks – for multiplying the entertainment – fabulous write ups !

  • govi on October 10, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Common Andy, This article is not your's. Stats & match reports are for other people to do. We expect hilarious articles from you. Don't change your style.

  • Mohammed Zaferulla Khan on October 10, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    "They wrapped it up clouting the two teams who had foolishly dominated the early stages, and who had both beaten West Indies by nine wickets, stupidly rendering their own eventual demise utterly unavoidable." That is some statement. Hilarious.

  • Brinda on October 10, 2012, 10:55 GMT

    "And Southee has taken his place alongside the likes of Ambrose, Marshall, Holding and Wes Hall as one of the most important bowlers in West Indies history." - ROFL- truly a gem!