Sri Lanka v West Indies, Final, World Twenty20, Colombo

A game that proved Twenty20 matters

The World Twenty20 final proved that the shortest format is worthy of attention, and that cricket in the Caribbean is alive and kicking, says David Hopps as he soaks in the atmosphere at a Colombo café

David Hopps in Colombo

October 7, 2012

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

Jubilation for Darren Sammy, Sri Lanka v West Indies, final, World Twenty20, Colombo, October 7, 2012
There was no better man to spark the rebirth of West Indies cricket than Darren Sammy, their big-hearted, congenial captain © ICC/Getty
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There was a celebration after this World Twenty20 final, but it was not on the streets of Colombo. The thousands of people who streamed into the centre of Sri Lanka's capital to dance the night away largely turned around and went back again. Instead, the carnival was in the Caribbean as West Indies kept their promise that their cricketing regeneration had begun. Rally Round the West Indies, Gangnam Style and a bit of Bob Marley, washed down by a dark rum or two, long into the night.

Even those traditional cricket supporters most resistant to the attractions of T20 must concede that if it helps to reawaken Caribbean cricket after two decades of decline then it will have had a positive impact on the world game. And while they are in conciliatory mood, they can concede, too, that there was no better man to spark the rebirth than Darren Sammy, West Indies' big-hearted, congenial captain, a man who has followed their slogan of "One Team, One People, One Goal" to the letter, and whose unbeaten 26 off 15 balls, to follow Marlon Samuels' 78, dragged West Indies out of inertia to what proved to be a matchwinning 137 for 6.

Never say again that Twenty20 does not matter. Never say again that it is such an entirely inferior game that is not worth your attention, that it demands no intellect, creates no tension, bares no souls. If it is not a worthy addition to Test cricket, how can you explain the despair tonight for Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, two players who have offered Sri Lankan cricket wise counsel and stirring deeds for the past decade and who have failed yet again to win a major one-day trophy? They will fear that they may now never leap the final hurdle.

Never say again that Twenty20 does not matter, that it is all a bit of fun, that it is a bad game best disguised by cheerleaders and loud music. If you think that, how do you explain why Chris Gayle, the most destructive batsman around, went into his shell to make 3 runs in 16 balls in the face of insistent Sri Lankan bowling on a mediocre surface when the time had come to fulfil his prediction that the final belonged to West Indies. The tension in the early overs of West Indies' innings was of Test match quality and there is no finer accolade than that.

And how do you suppress your recognition that Marlon Samuels, the Yohan Blake to Gayle's Usain Bolt, played an innings of substance by any definition, launching a spectacular assault on Lasith Malinga, in particular, to drag West Indies' angst-ridden innings out of the mire?

This World Twenty20 tournament, run with a professionalism beyond anything that Sri Lanka has ever produced, has emphasised that T20 cricket must have a future in the international game and that those who have suggested it should be left only to domestic franchise leagues have been entirely misguided.

Properly played, this is a game that carries many of Test cricket's tensions, a game that also possesses its own strategy, its own quick-wittedness, its own moments of immense skill, the only difference being that they reveal themselves only seconds rather than hours.

A West Indies win had not seemed likely earlier in the evening. There was a man dressed as a ghost in the crowd at Premadasa, shown briefly on TV, and on a night when, as it turned out, Sri Lanka were unable to revive the ghosts of their 1996 World Cup win, it seemed appropriate to this onlooker to watch the game from the Cricket Club Café, which to the travelling cricket supporter at least has become the spiritual home of cricket in Colombo.

Properly played, Twenty20 is a game that carries many of Test cricket's tensions, a game that also possesses its own strategy, its own quick-wittedness, its own moments of immense skill, the only difference being that they reveal themselves only seconds rather than hours

Months after Sri Lanka's 1996 World Cup win, James and Gabby Whight sold up in Australia, opened a cricket-themed bar in Colombo and hoped for the best. They partly funded it on the proceeds of a good wine collection and they were down to their last couple of cases when people finally began to come through the door. Two decades of civil war struck Sri Lanka cruelly, the 2004 tsunami brought further tragedy, but the café, like Sri Lanka cricket itself, withstood the hard times. They will find it hard to believe tonight, but the future is brighter.

As Samuels recovered West Indies' innings in brilliant fashion, his innings developing with an assault upon Lasith Malinga, and as Sammy biffed West Indies out of range, the walls of the café carried memories of a bygone era. Yellowing newspaper cuttings told of some of Don Bradman's great knocks, of how the crowd at the Trent Bridge Test booed Keith Miller for bowling a bumper and hitting Len Hutton on the shoulder, and how Sri Lanka - in the words of the Colombo Daily News - "climbed Everest" the day Arjuna Ranatunga's team changed the nature of cricket in Sri Lanka by winning the World Cup.

That cutting, too, is history now - and there will be no cutting to replace it. Sixteen years of Sobers Stir- Frys and Ganguly Grills have been served to cricket supporters while Sri Lanka have waited in vain to follow up their greatest moment. Gabby promised to seek out some new cuttings if Sri Lanka overcame West Indies; she will have no need to search out the scissors.

Keith Miller, had he been born in the modern age, would have loved T20; Bradman might have privately thought it beneath him but pride would have probably persuaded him to adapt and become masterful at it. Both, though, would have had to be weaned off their lightweight bats. One of the framed displays on the café's wall shows The History Of The Cricket Bat and it has to be said the Early Curved Bat of the 1730s might not have been much use for clearing the ropes. Memories of another age.

Sri Lanka, who coming into the final had struck 17 sixes to West Indies' 42, seemed at times to be using the Early Curved Bat as they forgot the skills that had brought them to the final and tried to go big with disastrous effect. As for Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's top scorer with 33, he felt a spot of drizzle, sensed the advent of the October monsoon and promptly got out trying to get ahead of Duckworth/Lewis. It never drizzled again. "You can't see the skies, only feel the drops," Jayawardene said.

As Sri Lanka squeezed West Indies, and West Indies squeezed back in return, a new generation of cricket fans, unable to get tickets for the game, watched in expectation at the café, oblivious to the faded photos around them. As they came into the bar, one of them glanced at the TV screen, spotted Gayle, and shouted "six, six, six", but it was not that kind of night and the ball dribbled no more than a few yards. The X-man was having a few z's, but his understudy was wide awake. "It was a slow wicket, but I knew if I hung in there it would be okay," Samuels said. "Today was a different mindset - I decided to attack their best bowler." No international player has come to fruition so markedly this year.

With one over left of West Indies' innings, it was time to grab a trishaw to Galle Face Green, in search of a celebration that never took place. Sixteen years ago, as Ranatunga's team made history, it was a happier place. This must have been the only tuk tuk in Colombo with an in-built TV, the driver certainly claimed it to be so. Long before the end of the night, though, he had probably reached for the power-off button.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 14:46 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster: Not sure I agree with you there. Test cricket provides excitement that no other format can provide. All three formats have different requirements, but to me (and i think many others as well), Test cricket is a level above the odi's and t20s. People like you might consider test cricket old fashioned, but it will never fade away because it caters to a group of cricket lovers who'll follow it no matter what.

Posted by SamRoy on (October 9, 2012, 6:15 GMT)

I believe WI already have a good test team. Only, the selectors don't see it. Gayle, Kieran Powell/Barath, Samuels, Chanderpaul, Sarwan, Darren Bravo, Ramdin, Roach, Rampaul/Best/Jerome Taylor, Bishoo and Narine. Roach, Narine and Bishoo are the three best bowlers in WI and they simply must play every game.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (October 8, 2012, 18:01 GMT)

Like it or not, test cricket is living on borrowed time. I will NEVER recommend test cricket to anyone who is new to the sport. It's long, boring and is in touch with the OLD, colonial way of life. British influence is ever present in test cricket and nations who from the so called 'commonwealth' should shun it. T20 is more modern, exciting and is in line with 21st century ideals. If people believe T20 cricket is insignificant, then they should NOT be using modern technologies like computers, iPhones, iPads, etc. Cause test cricket is just an old relic which should be locked away in some underground vault. T20 is the modern day gadget that provides sporting pleasure and thrills. Besides, most of the players love playing it. It's way better than playing 7 meaningless ODis after a test series.

Posted by TrueFactors on (October 8, 2012, 17:12 GMT)

Only deserving team for this WC. In fact, WI was only team who deserved this trophy. They played clean cricket. Other teams were mean to make other teams out to make their race easy. This WI winning is close to India 2011 wc win, who beat all big teams in their winning streak. During this WC, India was weak against pace. Their batsmen are out of form since 2011 WC win. Pak was inconsistent and SA was weak at handling pressure. SA also lost due to De'villiers failure. Aus little success was thanks to IPL. NZ is a weak team. SL was mean at making pitches. Malinga is over-exposed. Eng was weakest. They don't know how to play in sub-continent. They could win if players were allowed to play in IPL. Stupid ECB. WI success is due to their spirit and they owe IPL for experience. They are good playing against pace too. Few other individual success like - Watson, Warner, Franklin and hussey owe to IPL. Afghan looks good team, they need more guidance and opportunities.

Posted by RoshanF on (October 8, 2012, 16:50 GMT)

In this age of "instant gratification" perhaps nothing, for cricket lovers, symobolises it more than T20. You watch it! Enjoy it! Even fret on it for two hours! Then forget about it. I am an SL supporter and was fretful - for a few hours afterwards. But couldn't for long, For this was T20 - instanty gratifying or vilifying and nothing more nothing less . BUT this time SL had been beaten by a team whose predecessors 30 years ago were enlivening audiences like no one ever before or since - yeah not even these T20 blasters Gayle, Pollard, Samuels, Bravo and co can ever match those glory years. But still for those who loved the sheer fascinating style adorned by those men from the Caribbean such as Greenidge, Fredericks, Haynes, Kallicharan, Richardson (now coaching) and of course the greatest of them all - the incomparable Viv Richards - this victory will hopefull see the revival of Windies cricket. Much needed for the sheer pleasure they should bring.

Posted by msnsrinivas on (October 8, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

Sri Lanka don't just lose in finals any more, they get walloped; in fact all of them were pretty convincing victories for their opponents but yesterday's performance with the bat was a new low.

Posted by Harlequin. on (October 8, 2012, 12:32 GMT)

@Marcio - true words, T20 is a lottery. Although it is entertaining, it doesn't really 'matter'. T20 is like poker, yes there are ways of making sure you win more often than not, but essentially it comes down to luck. @VivGilchrist - exactly the same mate! barely anyone knew the final was going on yesterday!! I can't see that happening for a Test-championship final.

Posted by   on (October 8, 2012, 12:14 GMT)

Behind_the_bowlers_arm: If you think T20 doesn't matter, then why are you commenting here? Go waste your time watching boring test matches. And by the way, I think T20 is the most natural form of cricket. People in streets don't play 5 day games, but something similar to t20, 10 to 20 over games.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (October 8, 2012, 10:49 GMT)

Congrats on a great but fluke victory to W Indies.....Enjoy more thrashings coming up!

Posted by abhyudayj on (October 8, 2012, 10:25 GMT)

South Africa and Now Srilanka has choker tag, Southafrica has not Qualify for finals and srilanka not won a finals after 1996.

Posted by typos on (October 8, 2012, 9:36 GMT)

Yes, the game is evolving and has become a very viable format where skill, stamina (yes, the faster the game, the more stamina required) smarts and courage come in focus. Low scores and big scores can create fun and tension and giftedness still clearly gives an advantage. It's not just about slogging anymore, there is now an evolving science to the game. Soon I predict (obviously in my opinion), one of the other formats will have to give way since a shorter game makes for better television and better use of time all around.

Posted by 777aditya on (October 8, 2012, 9:11 GMT)

For a team to be 48/2 after 12 overs in T20 and still go onto win the match by 36 runs shows their remarkable comeback ability and most definitely their self belief. I was led to think that SL might break their series of 'finals' losses, but well WI clearly showed them who's the boss!

Posted by masoodali150 on (October 8, 2012, 6:39 GMT)

Yes, They deserved for the trophy. Being Pakistani I appreciate them for the great victory. They really enjoy the game and this should be part of game if you are wining and making world entertained.

Posted by troll401 on (October 8, 2012, 6:31 GMT)

Nice article Mr.Hopps! To the Windies this game was not another game, not just t20 but maybe the dawn of a new era. Who can tell what the future may bring, but good signs can come in many ways. Ways people feel inferior. But this is such a sign come through a t20 game, but the Windies are back again.

Posted by   on (October 8, 2012, 6:13 GMT)

west indies congratulations! it was thoroughly deserved victory, as a fan of sri lanka would have been awesome to win at home, but the West Indies proved too good ont he day even when gayle didn't fire, hats off to you guys:)

Posted by vaidyar on (October 8, 2012, 5:27 GMT)

Sorry. I have to disagree with this. As much as I enjoyed WI's success and was rooting for them, this does not prove that all is well with the current scheduling. The main issue with having T20Is and ODIs along with tests is the scheduling. And just because WI won it does not prove that we need both T20Is and the cricketing leagues. As much as you'd like, this victory will not wish away the IPL, BBL, the SLPL and even the Pakistani league that is going to come up. Yes, there will be matches like this and emotional victories, you cannot deny that. That is the nature of cricket in general. Even T&T gave us the emotional angle during the inaugural Champions League. Does the make the case for the franchise model? If 3 formats need to coexist, something has to go. Or we need a cap on the max games in each format that can be played by international teams or franchises. Let's not get carried away and brush everything under the carpet.

Posted by Fast_Track_Bully on (October 8, 2012, 5:04 GMT)

SL chokers in the finals. Funny to see they do not have a youngsters performing well in the lineup!

Posted by venkatesh018 on (October 8, 2012, 4:24 GMT)

I must confess I am one of those who rate T20 way below Test matches. But this World Cup in Srilanka has been most enjoyable to watch and the quality of cricket has been first rate even for the connoisseur. And it provided a befitting champion in the end ! But the rider here is, this was all made possible because of the nature of pitches, which gave more than a fair chance to the bowlers. This is the one lesson ICC cannot ignore in the conduct of future ICC events. Bring the bowlers to the party and the contest will be highly watchable and the TV ratings will soar !

Posted by Surajdon9 on (October 8, 2012, 3:59 GMT)

Properly played, Twenty20 is a game that carries many of Test cricket's tensions, a game that also possesses its own strategy, its own quick-wittedness, its own moments of immense skill, the only difference being that they reveal themselves only seconds rather than hours....

Posted by rahulgog on (October 8, 2012, 3:50 GMT)

Well Done West Indies, but my heart goes out to Sri Lanka. Sorry guys, but you too are winners

Posted by NaniIndCri on (October 8, 2012, 3:40 GMT)

A good ball is always a good ball, a good shot is always a good shot, a good game is always a good game; doesn't matter what the format is.

Posted by   on (October 8, 2012, 2:19 GMT)

glad to see the calypso beat rocking world cricket in gangnam style!!!!!!cricket just wasn't cricket without them!!!!!!

Posted by VivGilchrist on (October 8, 2012, 1:12 GMT)

Nice article. I hope you believe all of that. Our conversations at work sounded a little like this - "who won the T20?", "when was it?", "last night I think" "ah, not sure mate....when do the Tests v the Saffas start?"

Posted by Marcio on (October 8, 2012, 0:59 GMT)

Each to his own. I came away with exactly the opposite conclusion about T20. There's just too much chance in this format for me to take the results seriously, and often the rewards go to those who do not earn it. Just look at the semis and final. The team winning the toss batted first and won every game. The final? The WI beat a team by 30 runs that beat them by 9 wickets two weeks before. How is this possible? The WI were almost beaten by Ireland and NZ, who in turn won only one game between them (if I recall correctly). The WI were one delivery away from being eliminated vs NZ, & played only two good games in the entire tournament, yet won the comp! I don't recall anything remotely similar ever happening in any 50 over WC or any other sport so often. 1 bad umpiring decision, 1 quick slogfest by a tailender, 1 stupid bowling change & entire games are won/lost. Skill/technique are sacrificed for amusement. That's T20.

Posted by   on (October 8, 2012, 0:54 GMT)

Excellent article. The World twenty20 does indeed matter, but there is still too much inconsequential twenty20 being played around the world, whether it be the interminable group stages of the IPL, the overcrowded county twenty20 fixture list in 2011, or the lop sided and unfair format of the 'Champions league' that starts this week.

Twenty20 undoubtedly has its place but the ICC and administrators around the world must somehow resist the urge to give us too much of it (if they haven't already) and thereby kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

Posted by ygkd on (October 8, 2012, 0:00 GMT)

T20 can matter, but only if we want it to. If we want slogging and toe-hitting slow-bowling and neutered pacemen then that's what we get. If, on the other hand, we want variety, proper skill and quality then we have to expect it. I remember when ODIs got going. Many felt, including myself, that it was a slippery slope that would kill Test cricket. Well it did and it didn't. Things are often more complicated than that. I believed, as have others, that T20 should be left to hit-and-giggle domestic leagues. I now believe that's wrong. A T20WC can be vastly superior to a Big Bash or IPL. This tournament proved that. Some will succeed in domestic leagues and fail on the big stage, just as they do in the longer form. Some like Samuels and the WI will enhance their reputation. It is worth remembering that over 20 years ago an unregarded Aus won a WC in Asia. What was the point of that? They went on to rule the Tests. Not saying the WI can do likewise, but its possible someone will. Sometime.

Posted by disco_bob on (October 7, 2012, 23:59 GMT)

Well, you can beat it up as much as you like, but T20 will never be anything more than hit and giggle. The tension is manufactured and quality is a throw of the dice. The best entertainment has been recent Test matches. Even NZ/Aust in Tasmania was more compelling.

Posted by   on (October 7, 2012, 23:14 GMT)

I may not be a big fan of T20 as compared to ODIs and Tests but no doubt it has an important role to play in the Cricketing World and actually has benefited the Cricketing World as posed to degrading it. T20 does have its negatives but also has a lot of positives and thats the way to look at it at the moment. I feel the only reason its getting a lot of stiff is because 1 too much emphasis is being put on to it and at times ahead of ODIs and Tests and 2 it disrupts the International calendar and if you can sort that out then Cricket will truly succeed in my view. The important thing that T20 does bring is that it globalizes the Sport and improves players Cricketing skills from all aspects and angles in quick time.

Posted by kamiCric on (October 7, 2012, 22:55 GMT)

Spot on! It was only handling the pressure that made the difference at the end. T20 brings more excitement and it definitely is not for the faint hearted.

Posted by mahjut on (October 7, 2012, 22:23 GMT)

i agree with almost every word written in this articel - it's fantastic that the WI have something to celebrate. It's fantastic that Sammy was the man who led it. T20 is a fantastic addition to cricket. In fact i can even go so far as to say that i agree with his "never again say that T20..." but three little words "demands not intellect" are unconvincing. Guts? yes, passion, pride, skill, composure? all yes, but intellect ... not that it's needed. REALLY hope this is the final boost in WI slow march forward

Posted by   on (October 7, 2012, 21:58 GMT)

Best article ever. T20 is the new main game to take this Sport mainstream with the rest of the world.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (October 7, 2012, 20:55 GMT)

T20 DOESN'T matter. There I've said. It's a bit of entertaining bubblegum fun and a much needed pension plan for aging cricketers. Sri Lankans were upset as they are one of the Test sides going over to the dark side of concentrating on short form cricket.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (October 7, 2012, 19:20 GMT)

OH YEAH David !!! Of course T20 matters !!!! It's the BEST format out of the 3. Test cricket, while testing and historically significant can NEVER replicate the excitement and thrill of T20. Even ODIs are plain boring nowadays. So T20 all the way baby ! The best format and God's gift (or England's gift) LOL to cricket lovers. Surely, some folks will munch on sour grapes. But I am proud to be a T20 fan. It was a joy to watch the WI beat SL in front of a partisan crowd. The dancing and jubilation of the WI players made me smile with tears of joy. This is how the sport should be played and this is WHY T20 is the BEST format to spread cricket globally.

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
Tournament Results
Sri Lanka v West Indies at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 7, 2012
West Indies won by 36 runs
Australia v West Indies at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 5, 2012
West Indies won by 74 runs
Sri Lanka v Pakistan at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 4, 2012
Sri Lanka won by 16 runs
India v South Africa at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 2, 2012
India won by 1 run
Australia v Pakistan at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 2, 2012
Pakistan won by 32 runs
More results »
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News | Features Last 3 days