September 23, 2012

Quicks throw open the tournament

The surprisingly positive response of the Sri Lankan pitches to fast bowling has given nearly every top team a chance at the World Twenty20
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The first week of the World Twenty20 has resembled a couple of young lovers on a getting-to-know-you date - a lot of foreplay but not much action. Despite this, two points have been clearly made: the ICC has to rethink it's "minnow match" strategy, and fast bowlers are going to play a bigger part in deciding the champion than was originally thought.

The ICC regularly works on clearing the minnows early, but it makes for a slow start to any tournament. It doesn't send the message to the viewing public that this tournament is a vibrant and competitive affair. It's okay to open the tournament with the hosts playing a minnow - the last thing you want is the locals feeling their team is on the way to a quick exit - but the ICC needs to programme at least a couple of marquee match-ups in the first half a dozen games. It has taken a few days for the tournament to gain a feel of anything but a series of lopsided matches.

The pitches at the Premadasa and in Pallekele have shown some life and bounce, suggesting this won't just become a battle of the teams that bowl and play spin best. The good spinners will definitely play a role, but it's more likely to be complementary rather than starring.

This is not necessarily good news for India, who are struggling to unearth quality quick bowlers. They still have an explosive batting line-up that can destroy anything less than the best bowling, but how they cope with short-pitched deliveries is more likely to determine their progress in the tournament. The former top-class West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts once summed up the destructive powers of their four quicks by saying: "Whatever the opposition bowl us out for, we'll bowl them out for less." India might have to adopt the opposite approach in this tournament: "No matter how many runs the opposition make, we'll score more."

For South Africa, who have retained two prongs of their menacing three-headed Test pace attack, the sight of bouncy pitches must be as welcome as the first glint of gold in a Transvaal mining shaft. Add Jacques Kallis, who is another pace option, and the cagey spin of Johan Botha and Robin Peterson, plus an aggressive batting line-up, and you have the recipe for attaining precious silverware.

But this is South Africa, the team that misread a Duckworth-Lewis target sheet, the team that forgot to run when a simple single would have got them into a Cup final, the team that seems to lose any match where the word "final" closely follows either "quarter" or "semi". South Africa now have a big chance to erase all those forlorn memories. However, they'll have to do it in a country where the tourist attraction of leopard sightings hasn't yet unearthed one without the familiar spots.

England are another side that will have welcomed the sight of bounce in the pitches. They have some quality pace bowlers and a high-class spinner, and it's just a matter of whether they score enough runs post-Kevin Pietersen to stretch the other contenders.

Australia will also have heaved a sigh of relief after an outing at the Premadasa. Their struggles when facing deceptive spin bowling have been well documented, but these are less likely to be exposed in the prevailing conditions. Nevertheless, they are handicapping themselves as long as they don't include the ultra-aggressive David Hussey in the batting line-up.

West Indies are a highly dangerous combination. Their batting is as explosive as a triggered landmine, and Sunil Narine's spin bowling provides wicket-taking opportunities. In the end they may rue not including the pace-bowling aggression of Kemar Roach on these pitches.

And Pakistan can't be discounted with the destructive pace-spin combination of Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal, but their batting is probably too inconsistent to consistently provide enough runs.

It's shaping up to be one of the most open and intriguing prestige tournaments the ICC has held. It's just a pity it took so long to reach anything resembling a climax.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kharidra on September 26, 2012, 13:19 GMT

    As a keen student of the gameChappelli - your Views and Contributions to the game have been immense - Many Happy Returns of the day (Sep-26-2012).

  • vimalkm on September 26, 2012, 11:02 GMT

    Ok been a while since i sent a comment here.

    The reason why cricket is exiting and countries that play well away from there country is regarded as a good team is cause of varying condition's. I do not understand why pitch should bounce in SL and not spin? Its every time there is a tournament in sub continent this topic comes up! how come you don't hear this when playing in Aus or Eng? I am not saying Eng should have turners jus that THIS is what makes cricket good ... different conditions and home advantage.

  • on September 26, 2012, 0:32 GMT

    The T20 format is so unpredictable against the top teams. Look at England's drubbing against India, and 2 days before India nearly had a scare against the Afghans. On the day a T20 depends on which player has the "luck" of playing better than they did...say 2 days ago ( Gautam )

    On paper, India should win the T20 but like I said again, it depends which player can do a remarkable change that takes the game away from the opposition. EXAMPLE, Jos Bulter's day or even Chawla's.

    I fancy Australia to win the T20 because the Big Bash has helped them understand the game a lot better than the Indian's who's blowers tend to just leak runs thinking they'll be ok because they have posted a total of 190

  • KarachiKid on September 25, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    Fully agree with his assessment of Pakistani batting line up. In fact he is being a bit nice. It down right pathetic.

  • Udendra on September 25, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    By preparing seamer-friendly pitches, SLC has taken away the 'home' advantage of Sri Lanka and other sub-continent teams. But do we get turning wickets in ENG or AUS or SA?

  • Meety on September 25, 2012, 3:01 GMT

    @Shashi Punchihewa - SHOULD SL prepare more bouncier & faster pitches, I would expect SL's overseas record to improve EVERYWHERE, not just in Oz. Looking forward to the SL series coming up Kumar Sangakkarra is my favourite non-ozzy cricketer. @anton1234 on (September 24 2012, 02:32 AM GMT) - at the moment it technically is 15 overs a day. They just don't enforce it that often. Over rates are under a bit of pressure due to UDRS reviews.

  • on September 24, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    Mr Chappell, I'm surprised the word you used "surprisingly". It is a out come of our cricketing planes(pitches). in future you may see SL thrashing AUSSIES in their home soil. Looking foward to the SL tour of Australia. Be ready to have it in your home country.

  • Thamara on September 24, 2012, 19:08 GMT

    You may have written this article before England vs India game started. But I have to say that England looked terribly bad against spinners. Their yougsters may not have played spinners as good as Harbajan singh and Piyush Chawla in county games. I also think that South Africa is the strongest team in the competition. But we should not write australia off because they know how to win tournaments. Although India bowled well against inexperienced england batting line-up, I still think that Indian bowling attack is not very strong. They haven't been tested yet against a good team. Their fast bowlers look average to me. Other most competiive team in this tournament is west indies which is full of big hitters. WI batting line-up can tear apart any bowling line-up in the tournament. If they play to their potential, nobody can stop them from winning this world cup. And their bowling is not bad either. With the inclusion of Fidel Edwards, WI bowling looks strong.

  • baggar on September 24, 2012, 17:50 GMT

    Do not write off WI ...... and proven best performer of T20 Pakistan .....

  • Selassie-I on September 24, 2012, 15:57 GMT

    Not the first time I've seen a Chappell article be immidiatley disproved (By the Eng/India game). There is a bit of bouce and movement but spin will still be king and it will become more prominent throughout the tournament. @Jonsey2 - have you ever seen Philander bowl? he's pretty good mate, i've seen him in the flesh from behind his arm. Morne is good but has always been inconsistent, but he may well have matured to have that consstency after bowling well all summer. I remember Jim Anderson never looked like he was going to get in the team fully many years ago and he's matured into one of the most accurate and dangerous bowlers in the world now.

  • kharidra on September 26, 2012, 13:19 GMT

    As a keen student of the gameChappelli - your Views and Contributions to the game have been immense - Many Happy Returns of the day (Sep-26-2012).

  • vimalkm on September 26, 2012, 11:02 GMT

    Ok been a while since i sent a comment here.

    The reason why cricket is exiting and countries that play well away from there country is regarded as a good team is cause of varying condition's. I do not understand why pitch should bounce in SL and not spin? Its every time there is a tournament in sub continent this topic comes up! how come you don't hear this when playing in Aus or Eng? I am not saying Eng should have turners jus that THIS is what makes cricket good ... different conditions and home advantage.

  • on September 26, 2012, 0:32 GMT

    The T20 format is so unpredictable against the top teams. Look at England's drubbing against India, and 2 days before India nearly had a scare against the Afghans. On the day a T20 depends on which player has the "luck" of playing better than they did...say 2 days ago ( Gautam )

    On paper, India should win the T20 but like I said again, it depends which player can do a remarkable change that takes the game away from the opposition. EXAMPLE, Jos Bulter's day or even Chawla's.

    I fancy Australia to win the T20 because the Big Bash has helped them understand the game a lot better than the Indian's who's blowers tend to just leak runs thinking they'll be ok because they have posted a total of 190

  • KarachiKid on September 25, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    Fully agree with his assessment of Pakistani batting line up. In fact he is being a bit nice. It down right pathetic.

  • Udendra on September 25, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    By preparing seamer-friendly pitches, SLC has taken away the 'home' advantage of Sri Lanka and other sub-continent teams. But do we get turning wickets in ENG or AUS or SA?

  • Meety on September 25, 2012, 3:01 GMT

    @Shashi Punchihewa - SHOULD SL prepare more bouncier & faster pitches, I would expect SL's overseas record to improve EVERYWHERE, not just in Oz. Looking forward to the SL series coming up Kumar Sangakkarra is my favourite non-ozzy cricketer. @anton1234 on (September 24 2012, 02:32 AM GMT) - at the moment it technically is 15 overs a day. They just don't enforce it that often. Over rates are under a bit of pressure due to UDRS reviews.

  • on September 24, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    Mr Chappell, I'm surprised the word you used "surprisingly". It is a out come of our cricketing planes(pitches). in future you may see SL thrashing AUSSIES in their home soil. Looking foward to the SL tour of Australia. Be ready to have it in your home country.

  • Thamara on September 24, 2012, 19:08 GMT

    You may have written this article before England vs India game started. But I have to say that England looked terribly bad against spinners. Their yougsters may not have played spinners as good as Harbajan singh and Piyush Chawla in county games. I also think that South Africa is the strongest team in the competition. But we should not write australia off because they know how to win tournaments. Although India bowled well against inexperienced england batting line-up, I still think that Indian bowling attack is not very strong. They haven't been tested yet against a good team. Their fast bowlers look average to me. Other most competiive team in this tournament is west indies which is full of big hitters. WI batting line-up can tear apart any bowling line-up in the tournament. If they play to their potential, nobody can stop them from winning this world cup. And their bowling is not bad either. With the inclusion of Fidel Edwards, WI bowling looks strong.

  • baggar on September 24, 2012, 17:50 GMT

    Do not write off WI ...... and proven best performer of T20 Pakistan .....

  • Selassie-I on September 24, 2012, 15:57 GMT

    Not the first time I've seen a Chappell article be immidiatley disproved (By the Eng/India game). There is a bit of bouce and movement but spin will still be king and it will become more prominent throughout the tournament. @Jonsey2 - have you ever seen Philander bowl? he's pretty good mate, i've seen him in the flesh from behind his arm. Morne is good but has always been inconsistent, but he may well have matured to have that consstency after bowling well all summer. I remember Jim Anderson never looked like he was going to get in the team fully many years ago and he's matured into one of the most accurate and dangerous bowlers in the world now.

  • jonesy2 on September 24, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    even chappell overrates the south african bowlers. after steyn there is nothing, as much as i like the morkel boys

  • S.h.a.d.a.b on September 24, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    one match performance is not a performance indicator. champion has to win few more matches. pitches r unpredictible and i hope the most unpredictible team will win.

  • kharidra on September 24, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    If Bounce swing pace impact any team in general these have impacted all teams. There are some players who have shown that these factors impact them in the longer versions of the game but no so much in the shortest form of the game. In fact these factors have also contributed to providing additional runs in the form of wides, no balls, byes, leg byes.... On the other hand spin cannot be discounted and the spinners have reveled in much the similar conditions. No sooner did this print appear than the performance of the spinners came to the fore that very evening, and a discarded world class spinners performance came into limelight.

  • BG4cricket on September 24, 2012, 2:50 GMT

    Great article from Chappelli and couldn't agree more. Interesting the imbalance in the groups based on form - one pool will be AUS, PAK, IND & SA which looks very tough, and then ENG, WI, NZ & SL. For mine SA and AUS/IND progress while in the other WI and ENG/NZ/SL

  • anton1234 on September 24, 2012, 2:32 GMT

    I would like to see bowlers show more urgency in getting back to their mark after a delivery. The leisurely way they get back to their mark is not on. They have to show enthusiasm, if not, why should fans in supporting the game? CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL THE ICC TO INCREASE THE OVER RATE TO A MINIMUM 15 OVERS AN HOUR. The turnaround between deliveries has to be speeded up. There has to be a greater flow to the game.

  • CKfrombrisbane on September 24, 2012, 1:43 GMT

    Hah... Have you ever seen SA won a tournament? They can't play in a pressured situation. Everybody knows it.

  • Meety on September 24, 2012, 0:48 GMT

    Cannot believe the WIndies didn't select Roach - massive blunder IMO.

  • on September 23, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    Any good bowling attach can destroy any batting side and any good batting side can destroy any bowling attack on their given days - this is how t20 cricket works. The team who wins this cup will be the one who could hold their nerves under pressure situations and come out to be on top!

  • mav_nitb on September 23, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    Today's performance by England , even taking their chronic disability against spin over the years into the account, tells a far different story. Especially against a much weaker touted Indian bowling side.

  • tuluguroshan on September 23, 2012, 17:35 GMT

    hi sidvs ...i think u have not watched the todays match..if u watched it u will not say than india is a weaker team///or indias bowling is weak..how can be a team is weaker when it beats a defending champions by 90 runs and bowl them out with in 15 overs.india is the much stronger team when compared to the original full squad of eng..remember today eng have played their full squal and india going to play with out their frontline bowlers-aswin,zak and their all time opener shewag....>>>>

  • on September 23, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    How come kemar Roach is not there!WI. dont know even what their strenth is!

  • Ind_Rsa on September 23, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    My t20 11:gayle,watson,kohli,AB,m.hussey,MS,Albie,steyn,s.naraine,ajmal,malinga.Can you come with a better one?

  • Ind_Rsa on September 23, 2012, 15:31 GMT

    Group of death:ind,Rsa,aus and pak in same group.Hope ind and rsa qualifies for semis.

  • Uruloki on September 23, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    @travis thomas: mate, u need to have a good look at MSD's T20I record. He has a strike rate of 109, lower than any other Indian batsman. and MS D particularly is highly consistent and destructive??? the guy doesn't even have a 50!!!

    The only thing he is consistent is in coming up the order ahead of better batsmen hen the team is in a good position!!!

  • sidvs on September 23, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    I can say one thing for sure looking at these pitches...India isnt going to win, we would have to bat out of our skin to reach the semis with such a pathetic bowling attack. lol :)

  • abdulashikkhan.m on September 23, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    @ Travis Thomas.. AUSSIE bowling conceds 191 runs. PAK bowling gives away 186 against INDIA. WI bowling smashed to all parks, 100 in 9 ovrs. SL bowling carted by AB. So called heavy weight bowling line ups struggling & still they say INDIA has weak & fragile bowling attack. LOL to them.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on September 23, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    Wow,this can't at all be good news for teams likely to run into the Aussies later in the comp.One can only imagine what damage the electrifying young pace attack (easily the best set of young pacemen in the world going atm) of Aus are going to cause especially at the business end.Add to that the ominously broad looking bat of Shane Watson and the sheer class of the Hussey bros,Aus are the one side the other sides will most look to avoid as possible.With Davy Warner looking threatening without really going on to the big scores and due for something very soon,the signs are ominous as far the other teams are concerned.Only thing for Aus is to drop non-entity Bailey and get in Dave Huss in to the middle order and also the captaincy so as cut out the one major Achilees heel of the Aussies the others sides were looking at.Sadly the Poms have a problem too many mediocre and hopeless passengers to be a real threat any more than super8s ain,t it?

  • shaantanu on September 23, 2012, 9:58 GMT

    In a T20 tournament its easier to predict who wouldnt win than who would.....its easy to predict that Ireland,Afganistan,Zimbabwe,Bangladesh wouldnt win.From the rest anybody can be a winner though India is least likely to do so......Its all abt momentum and the body language of the players.n body language of the Indians are pretty negative at the moment.

  • skkh on September 23, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    "Himad"..mate did you get to read the same article that I did? I wouldn't know why the cricketing world loves to spew hate on us Australians, but honestly I do not care.

  • on September 23, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    Yes,agreed will Chappell, but may be the wickets will slow down towards the super 8 stage of the tournament. And the spinning giants may take the advantage,or may be the weather will have the last laugh, who knows... But with 2 finals and a almost final reaching team performance and with the most caps in T20 internationals,Pakistan seem to be the favourites apart from the destructive W Indies.

  • India.is.best on September 23, 2012, 9:11 GMT

    Guys how could you forget the south african pitches, they are more bouncy then srilankan's. wait n watch Indian team definitely going to win this cup again.

  • BrisVegan on September 23, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    @Himad Yes.. of course.. when Ian writes "It's shaping up to be one of the most open and intriguing prestige tournaments" he MUST be implying that Australia will win. Comprehension fail.

  • on September 23, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    @shaantanu, you're spot on in saying India is one of the more boring teams, with a toothless attack, but their batting is highly dangerous. In Kholi and MS Dhoni, they have two performers who can finish a game in 5 overs, and MS D particularly is highly consistent and destructive. Recently, Murali labelled him as one of the main players to watch out for. Add the other batters and Pathan, and you never know ....

  • Chris_P on September 23, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    @Himad. Really? He is trying to suggest that? So all the other teams he mentioned, you either chose to ignore or they just don't exist? Interesting take on this excellent column.

  • Sinhabahu on September 23, 2012, 7:40 GMT

    It's good that Sri Lankan pitches are starting to get some bounce and bite. That'll provide for far more competitive cricket than any highways.

  • shaantanu on September 23, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    What makes a cricket match interesting is a good balance between bat n ball.stumps being rattled by a fast bowler is as great to watch as a batsman hit the ball for a resounding six......in my opinion India is probably the most boring team among the top teams mainly because their bowling is so one dimensional......it goes without saying i m a frustrated indin supporter

  • on September 23, 2012, 6:29 GMT

    "The surprisingly positive response of the Sri Lankan pitches to fast bowling has given nearly every top team a chance at the World Twenty20". This of course does not apply to India.

  • on September 23, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    I agree sir, it indeed is that way, too many one sided affairs.

  • urprashant on September 23, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    As always Ian is spot on! No Asian country will be able to win this world cup, Thanks to Sri Lanka! There is something called 'Home Advantage', which it seems Sri Lankans have forgotten completely.Australia, England, South Africa,New Zealand will never ever provide Asian teams with spinning tracks but Sri Lankans have really big hearts and they are providing these teams exactly what they dream of, even if they will loose the chance to win the World Cup themselves!!!!

  • youfoundme on September 23, 2012, 4:12 GMT

    I'm looking forward to New Zealand winning the final, just so I can have a quiet snicker to myself about all the "columnists" and critics that have failed to acknowledge them as a chance.

  • Himad on September 23, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    What Ian is trying to suggest here is that Australia is going to be the champs. This guy never stops to make me laugh.

  • Biggus on September 23, 2012, 3:22 GMT

    The Sri Lankan pitches have been excellent, and their board and curators deserve to be congratulated on delivering pitches so well suited to the format. If these new pitches can last five days they'd work well for tests as well, and of course would encourage the development of pace bowling there. Positive steps for SL, well done.

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  • Biggus on September 23, 2012, 3:22 GMT

    The Sri Lankan pitches have been excellent, and their board and curators deserve to be congratulated on delivering pitches so well suited to the format. If these new pitches can last five days they'd work well for tests as well, and of course would encourage the development of pace bowling there. Positive steps for SL, well done.

  • Himad on September 23, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    What Ian is trying to suggest here is that Australia is going to be the champs. This guy never stops to make me laugh.

  • youfoundme on September 23, 2012, 4:12 GMT

    I'm looking forward to New Zealand winning the final, just so I can have a quiet snicker to myself about all the "columnists" and critics that have failed to acknowledge them as a chance.

  • urprashant on September 23, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    As always Ian is spot on! No Asian country will be able to win this world cup, Thanks to Sri Lanka! There is something called 'Home Advantage', which it seems Sri Lankans have forgotten completely.Australia, England, South Africa,New Zealand will never ever provide Asian teams with spinning tracks but Sri Lankans have really big hearts and they are providing these teams exactly what they dream of, even if they will loose the chance to win the World Cup themselves!!!!

  • on September 23, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    I agree sir, it indeed is that way, too many one sided affairs.

  • on September 23, 2012, 6:29 GMT

    "The surprisingly positive response of the Sri Lankan pitches to fast bowling has given nearly every top team a chance at the World Twenty20". This of course does not apply to India.

  • shaantanu on September 23, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    What makes a cricket match interesting is a good balance between bat n ball.stumps being rattled by a fast bowler is as great to watch as a batsman hit the ball for a resounding six......in my opinion India is probably the most boring team among the top teams mainly because their bowling is so one dimensional......it goes without saying i m a frustrated indin supporter

  • Sinhabahu on September 23, 2012, 7:40 GMT

    It's good that Sri Lankan pitches are starting to get some bounce and bite. That'll provide for far more competitive cricket than any highways.

  • Chris_P on September 23, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    @Himad. Really? He is trying to suggest that? So all the other teams he mentioned, you either chose to ignore or they just don't exist? Interesting take on this excellent column.

  • on September 23, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    @shaantanu, you're spot on in saying India is one of the more boring teams, with a toothless attack, but their batting is highly dangerous. In Kholi and MS Dhoni, they have two performers who can finish a game in 5 overs, and MS D particularly is highly consistent and destructive. Recently, Murali labelled him as one of the main players to watch out for. Add the other batters and Pathan, and you never know ....