September 21, 2012

When will the World Twenty20 catch fire?

It has been a bit damp so far. Hopefully the Super Eights games, with their context, will help move things along

There are often very good reasons why schedules are the way they are, and those commenting on schedules have fewer variables to consider than those making them. So there must be logic in why the first four games of the World Twenty20 have been so underwhelming. I am writing this with the tournament three days old, and that compelling game is still somewhere in the distance.

Hopefully, one of the qualifiers, or Bangladesh, will get this jamboree up and going, because otherwise it doesn't really begin till September 27, when the Super Eights start. That is a new beginning because teams don't carry over their points from the qualifiers, and that means there are a few dead rubbers, like India v England on September 23.

As the tournament hopes to gather steam, it is suddenly up against what should have been a marquee game but is really a warm-up game. To allow people to choose the matches they want to watch - a valid scheduling exercise - teams are pre-seeded into the Super Eights, so whether India beat England doesn't really matter to the tournament. Maybe there is a case for carrying points against the other qualifiers to inject greater value to the earlier games.

That is not to say it hasn't been fun following them. I enjoyed watching Afghanistan's spirited cricketers try to make the most of the few opportunities thrown their way. Theirs has been the story of world cricket over the last five years, and the good news is that it doesn't seem likely to end very quickly. They have withstood political turmoil, violence and displacement to come so far. Hereafter, other barriers must seem like small hurdles in the way of their spirit.

Already a few of their cricketers look like they could fit into more established teams. Seamers Dawlat Zadran and Shapoor Zadran and allrounder Mohammad Nabi have looked impressive. Word is that youngsters are flocking to camps, and that the Under-16s are doing well. These are good signs but we can do more to help them along. It is very unlikely, given the way the world is progressing (both politically and in cricket), that Afghanistan's future will lie in Test cricket. So they need as much access to one-day and T20 knowledge as possible.

One way to do that is to allow them to be part of IPL squads. I can imagine Dawlat Zadran spending six weeks with Wasim Akram or Shaun Pollock, or Nabi picking up tips from Jacques Kallis or MS Dhoni. This might be a nice way of promoting talented cricketers and helping them find their way in world cricket, quite apart from the fact that these two, and I am sure a couple of others, won't be out of place either.

Things don't look as positive for Zimbabwe. They were disappointing against Sri Lanka, not just with bat and ball but in their fielding, which has been an area of great strength in the past. Unlike players from the subcontinent - and we must put Afghanistan into this sub-class too - who learn traditional skills like batting and bowling first and acquire fielding somewhere along the path, Zimbabwe were doing it the other way. Because their fielding was always exceptional, they were able to stay competitive. But the signs now are a touch ominous.

I'm hoping that the crowds come in as the tournament moves along. With the amount of cricket played around the world, and the easy accessibility through television, a cricket match is no longer a novelty anywhere. I get the feeling that people need a context to watch. Non-home games aren't drawing crowds, and even though it was only a warm-up game, India v Pakistan was played in a near-empty stadium.

Generating that context in tournaments like these won't be easy (in the Big Bash or the IPL, every game is a home game for someone) and maybe that will become the new order in world cricket. Maybe the Super Eights, where every game will have a distinct value attached to it, will provide more clues.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Srinivas on September 24, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    Here is something IPL / BCCI can do a) Allow Afghanistan IPL Team as one of the contenders in IPL. This would be a master stroke for IPL so it is giving back to cricket. b) BCCI can foot Aghanistan Team costs on 50-50 basis.

  • Shadab on September 24, 2012, 9:29 GMT

    Harsha, how about 10-10 over matches? so we could hv 3 matches in one day.

  • Muhammad on September 24, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    Group F in super eight hopefully have Australia, India, Pakistan and South Africa and they have to play each other for the semi finals and two will be eliminated. It is very pathetic that two of the favourites team to win the world cup will be eliminated before the semi finals. After that semi finals will be death rubber!!

  • Chandima on September 24, 2012, 5:47 GMT

    Do you think its ignited now, after yesterday's India vs England game Mr.Bhogle?

  • Naseer on September 24, 2012, 4:48 GMT

    with due respect to Mr Bogle, I think this article is written prematurely, because a tournament cannot be judged by the 3 days, the writer should have shown some patience, because the tournament is not all about thrills and entertainment, it is also about development of cricket, givining these small teams a small chance will help them boost their confidence and improve their skills, and teams like Afgh they have shown that they deserve at least a chance, they have really shown great fight against India, they have collapsed in next game, but happens in cricket look at England against India! scheduling is also fair, lets not compare this with IPL which is purely a commercial event, which does not care about cricket and its improvement, and as the tournament goes on crowd will catch up and you will see how much important and superios this tournament is for players and fans, no comparison between the quality of cricket in this tournament and IPL.

  • Dummy4 on September 23, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    hay mr harsh did you sea that matches between aus vs wi , pak vs nz ,ind vs eng ahhh??? there ara numbers of people came watch that matches and stadiums ara full house ...every one knows country like srilanaka have only 22 millions of people and main thing is srilanken peoples are not rich than orther cricket nation countries so they cant spend money for tickets but in srilanaka when the cricket match playing all of 22 millions people watch that in tv ...this wt20 just started wait and see how the wt20 going on ok m.r harsha ...according sl cricket board hole tickets are sold for super eight matches ......

  • Ravi on September 23, 2012, 1:44 GMT

    Attracting crowds will mean sustaining the unpredictability of the Gentleman game in the minds of the connoisseur. Dishing out class and quality in all departments of the game - Batting, Bowling, Fielding, Umpiring. Coach and Captain as differentiators should become visible to the discerning eye. The Contest between Bat and Ball should be even. Runs accrued through unintended shots should appear under different category. Man of the Match adjudication process needs to consider several factors like the category discussed in the preceding sentence. The human touch should be back into the overall processes of the game than just remain within the realm of Television and around the realm of video transmits.

  • Dummy4 on September 22, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    The sri lankans only go to see theor team play? Great crowd tonight in colombo for australia v WI. Not many australians or west indians in the crowd.

  • License on September 22, 2012, 15:12 GMT

    Cricket is dying and T20 is largely to blame for it.Instead of playing more Test Match cricket and making Test Match Cricket more exciting,we have a lot of inconsequential T20's and one-dayers crammed into a very crowded schedule.This has resulted in matches without context,player breakdown not to mention severe audience fatigue which is reflected in the attendances.This is a trend that is not going to go away soon and the administrators better wake up quickly or else this game is as good as dead.IPL has only produced substandard mercenary cricketers with poor technique and their shortcomings have been severely tested and exposed when on tour.I used to be such a fan of cricket that I used to watch the prematch analysis,the main match,the post match analysis ,the highlights and the shortened highlights.I was so passionate about cricket.Now I see the present state of cricket,the rampant commercialization and the substandard commentators cum columnists and I switch off the television.

  • Dummy4 on September 22, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    They are boring because of the nature the groups. So many flop sided matches and too many dead rubbers. People will even forget there is a tournament going on. Try a world cup qualifying format that involves the whole world, not this hog af affiliates just being there. have a African qualifier proper, European, Asian, Americas qualifiers, not just for T20's but limited overs as well. Try the Rugby Format. It works in a sport where the whole world is not intreseted in your sport

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