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'England's best chance to win a global tournament'
Sanjay Manjrekar and Ian Chappell reflect on the Super Eights and preview the semi-finals (13:03)
May 12, 2010
ICC World Twenty20 2010
'England's best chance to win a global tournament'May 12, 2010
Sanjay Manjrekar: We are into the semi-final stage of the ICC World Twenty20. Ian, what are your thoughts on the four teams that have gone through and the last phase of the tournament?
Ian Chappell: Some surprises with the teams that have gone through, and, more particularly, bigger surprises with some of the teams that have gone out. After India beat South Africa in the first round, I thought India were looking very good. But they were terribly disappointing after that. They've got to start asking some hard questions, as do South Africa.
South Africa can't keep on falling at hurdles in major world tournaments. There's got to be some sort of problem. If I am a South African selector, I've got to be saying to myself that Graeme Smith has been charge all this time, the same things are happening and they seem to playing as a tense team. If Smith as a captain can't find a way to get rid of that, they've got to find somebody who can lead the side and get them to relax more in those situations.
SM: That's exactly what I wanted to ask you because this is happening a bit too often for South Africa. Coming to India, how do they address their frailties against pace and bounce? Typically what has happened over the years is, India have had problems against the short-pitched deliveries, maybe not when Tendulkar, Laxman, Dravid and Sehwag were playing well. But they go back to playing on pitches in the sub-continent, the success start coming and their weaknesses are forgotten. What does India need to do so that this doesn't happen over and over again?
IC: The first thing that's got to happen is, you've got to get some honesty into your cricket. People have to look in the mirror and ask 'what is the problem'? If the problem is the local pitches, that young batsmen don't get to experience pace and bounce enough in the developing stages of their career then that problem has to be addressed. Also, they've got to be a bit harsher with the selection policies. If guys continually fail in a certain aspect of the game i.e against short-pitched bowling and then they come back to India and succeed, sooner or later you have to say 'Listen mate, you've got to sort this problem out, otherwise we're not going to pick you.'
While there is so much politics being played in India, I'm not sure you're going to get that sort of honesty. Everyone lusts after the Australian system, but unless you're prepared to be brutally honest, you won't be able to replicate the Australian system. For instance, India has not been able to replicate the Australian system in looking at captains and saying 'Mate, you're time is just about up, we're warning you and if you don't just quietly disappear, we'll drop you.' And the same thing with senior players, and even with those who've been very good. Matthew Hayden is the most recent example in Australia. He was given a pretty decent hint by the selectors that if he didn't start thinking about riding off into the sunset, they'd shove him on a horse and whip the horse. So, until you get that sort of honesty, you'll not be replicating the Australian system.
SM: One of the other factors that India now has to contend with is the IPL effect on Indian cricket. Previously it was about taking just certain decisions that you mentioned. But now, some players who failed quite badly in the World Twenty20 are huge stars when the IPL gets underway and they have great brand value. So whether they feel the need to prove themselves at the highest level is also something that one has to look at. So who are the IPL stars and who are the Indian stars at the international level is something that India also has to look into.
Pakistan's entry into the semi-finals has been most unexpected.
IC: And most fortunate too. Having seen the absolute rubbish that Pakistan have played throughout the summer in Australia, I'm surprised that they've got this far. They've got this far mainly because of the mediocrity of others. They haven't got there through having done anything great themselves, they've got there through other teams' failings.
SM: How do you explain these extreme performances that we've seen from some teams? West Indies were brilliant on one day, terrible on the other. Sri Lanka as well. India have been very poor after their impressive performance against South Africa.
IC: And you've got to include South Africa in that bunch as well. They've been terribly inconsistent. For a really talented side, they should be kicking themselves in the backside and if they're not, they've got the wrong players there.
You were talking about players who were stars in the IPL and not in other tournaments. If that is the level that those players are challenging themselves at, in other words they are satisfied with IPL success, if that is their attitude…If I am a selector, I want guys who want to prove themselves at the highest possible level. Any player, it doesn't matter what team they're from, who thinks that way [satisfied with IPL success] he ain't in my team.
The biggest surprise this tournament, as far as consistency is concerned, is England. Along with Australia, they have been the two most consistent sides. Take your hat off to England because I think they've worked on that, being more consistent.
SM: Is this the best chance for England to win an ICC tournament? They have never won an ICC tournament.
IC: It is incredible that the country that invented the game hasn't yet got a major world title. It is their best chance. What we're going to see now is how they go about in a knockout situation where there is obviously some tension. One thing that I'll be a little worried about if I am an English supporter is the way they performed in the game against Ireland, when they had to win that to get through after they were very unlucky in the Duckworth-Lewis game against West Indies. To me they played as a very tense team, and in the end the rain came and they got through. They should have got through because they were good enough to. Just the fact that they seemed to be really stumbling against Ireland in a knockout type situation - to me it's going to be how they cope with that in the semi-finals. If they cope with that well, they deserve to be in the final and if they keep playing consistently, handle the pressure, then they are the team that might unsettle Australia.
Australia have absolutely hammered Pakistan for the last few months. I think the Australians are so far into the minds of the Australian players, it'll be a monumental turnaround and the biggest boil-over.
SM: Australia came unseeded into this tournament, but we've seen a big gap between them and the rest. Does that worry you again? We saw that kind of a gap at the Test level and 50-overs cricket, where Australia have dominated.
IC: It certainly does. I don't know if other teams think how Australia get to that standard, particularly when they've lost so many champion players in the last five years. It's not a fluke or co-incidence that Australia have revived and come back pretty quickly. It's because they work at it. We've got the advantage of our system. It is miles ahead of any other country's system for producing competitive young cricketers. But, in addition to that, they work hard at it. You don't be as consistent as Australia have been…the fact that they have won 23 games on the trot, it is an indictment on other teams. You can't win 23 50-over games on the trot. It's that sort of game when somebody's going to have a really good day and you're going to have a really off day and boom, there goes your unbeaten record. But it's not happening. I don't know if teams think that Australia are too strong at the moment and 'we'll try and beat the others'. Rather than actually look at what Australia does and work….you don't copy another country in the way it plays, you play in your own style. But the work ethic and the thought that goes into Australia playing well, that's the sort of thing that should be copied by other countries.
SM: And maybe India, perhaps, owes it more than anyone with the kind of support they have back home. They have become a real powerhouse in world cricket. So maybe India, more than others, are obliged to show results on the field and challenge Australia more consistently at the top.
We've got the four teams now. Looking forward to the semis?
IC: I am, and I hope we get two really good games. There is a nice little mixture there. You've got the western style up against Asian style cricket. I am hoping Pakistan somehow get themselves mentally right to challenge Australia. One, it will be terrific for the tournament and two, I think Australia needs it. They need to be challenged. I wouldn't be 100% comfortable if I'm Michael Clarke, going into the final, basically got there unchallenged. You want to have a bit of a threat somewhere along the line. I'm not talking about a threat from Bangladesh because you pretty well know in your own mind that you're going to overcome Bangladesh. But when you get a threat from a major team, you've got to work really hard to get back into it.
The England-Sri Lanka game, I think it could potentially be a terrific game of cricket. Sri Lanka do work at their cricket, that's one thing I like about them. They've have two very intelligent leaders for a long period now, with Mahela Jayawardene and now Kumar Sangakkara. They do work at improving their game and they do go a long way towards getting the best out of themselves.
SM: Perhaps there is a difference to see there. A very important difference between India and Sri Lanka which is that Sri Lanka look for stardom on the world stage. They don't get too much of stardom back home when they are playing local cricket, and not so much when they are playing bilateral cricket series. Maybe that really spurs them on to put up a great show and become stars when the world is watching because that's when the spotlight is really on Sri Lanka. So, it's no surprise to see them playing so well. Two matches in St Lucia, so that gives Pakistan some hope with Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Aamer who are good on slow pitches. Sri Lanka might look to play Ajantha Mendis. That just maybe evens the contest for the two Asian teams.
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