April 3, 2014

Chubby spinners, and Sammy's slogs

Alex Bowden
"That's how I'd like to be remembered in statue"  © Getty Images
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The bombastic trailers for the World T20 always seem to feature athletic fast bowlers demolishing stumps and big-name batsmen making big runs, but that's not how you should market the shortest format. T20's true appeal lies in bad fielding, chubby spinners, and batsmen-who-aren't-really-batsmen hitting sixes. As such, this tournament has been a roaring success thus far.

Most of the bad fielding has come from England and they displayed incredible persistence and determination to remain so bad for so long. To look like you can't catch with Chris Jordan in your team is no mean feat.

Even as an England supporter, I was grateful when the opposition cleared the ropes, because at least then I didn't have to watch one of my nation's representatives auditioning for lead cymbal player in a drunken orchestra.

Apparently, the team had been practising with wet balls at the start of the tournament. One might well wonder exactly which balls had been moistened, because something was clearly putting them off their catching.

Amit Mishra made the early running in the "best chubby spinner" competition, but he has since seen a major rival emerge. Conventional wisdom is that you need mystery spin in T20. They say that conventional spinners are liable to "go a long way", yet Sri Lanka found that such bowlers go a long way towards securing you a place in the semi-finals.

Rangana Herath does not look threatening - physically, I mean - and growing an evil beard and celebrating wickets angrily isn't changing anyone's opinion on this matter. Herath fundamentally looks like a herbivore - sort of sedentary and gentle. But this is misleading because against New Zealand, he was frighteningly predatory. Can sleepy, unhurried mastication be vicious? It would appear so. If you take more wickets than you concede runs and still find time to squeeze in a couple of run-outs then you're usually going to emerge on the winning side.

Finally, the man of the group stages was surely Darren Sammy. One of those allrounders who's not quite a batsman and not quite a bowler, the Windies captain has carved an impressive niche for himself as someone who can't help but score at two runs a ball over the course of his brief forays at the crease. His modus operandi appears to be to try to double the Windies' score, no matter what it is, no matter who's bowling, no matter how many balls are available to him, and no matter whether those balls are wet or dry.

Even better, Sammy does this with an almost exquisite lack of style. If he has a stroke that he can call his own, it is the splay-footed pan, but the reality is that he unveils all sorts of awkward contortions in essaying his full body mows. During the Pakistan match, the TV coverage revealed that he had a particular preference for the "slog (on-side)". His second-favourite shot was apparently the pull, which is as close as the textbook gets to a slog (on-side). Sammy will be disappointed to have dipped below the slog threshold so often. One of those pulls might even feature in the next TV montage.

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Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket

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Posted by android_user on (April 3, 2014, 13:26 GMT)

wow...hilarious; dry and sarcastic humor at its best

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