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What We Learned

A world in an over

Literally, if the over is bowled by one Sohail Tanvir

Sohail Tanvir gets some encouragement from Shahid Afridi, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, ICC World Twenty20 Super Eights, Lord's, June 12, 2009
"Keep that going and we'll be playing tomorrow's game before you know it" © Getty Images

Like the assassination of JFK and the resignation of Kevin Pietersen, Sohail Tanvir's opening over against Sri Lanka was compelling television. Everyone will remember where they were when he finally completed it, though few will remember where they were when he started it. What could have caused such a spectacular malfunction? It seems that his fear of Tillakaratne Dilshan's signature shot, the ElevatorTM had caused his own mechanisms to jam up, and after another interminable nine-ball exhibition of the jitters, Younis Khan pressed the emergency stop button.

Now, I have to be honest. I didn't see all of the first game. But though I am new to this cricket-writing business, I've learned enough to know that ignorance is no barrier to penmanship. A sophisticated, and above all convenient, technique for bottling the complex experience of a three hour game of cricket with all its eye-widening twists and giddying turns is to pick out a tiny part of the match and witter on about it for two or three paragraphs, implying pretentiously that you are the sportswriting equivalent of William Blake, able to see a world of cricket in a single over. Like so.

Another staple of lazy hackery is that hoary old chestnut: the game-changing moment. We thought we'd unearthed one early in the second innings of the evening's contest. Chasing a target that was, like an England fielder, neither here nor there, the Gayle Islands were poised on 42-1. All eyes were on their captain, by common consent, the only man in maroony-pink worth mentioning. A swish of the bat; a nasty, edgy, woody sound, and like a gaggle of well to do Victorian ladies, we gasped and clutched our collective handbags. Zaheer Khan caught it. From the lofty Lord's media centre came the sound of dozens of laptop lids being flipped as the gentlemen of the press prepared to pin their moment to the page.

But Johnny Twenty20 is a slippery cove and needs to be kept under constant surveillance. Dwayne Bravo just kept right on swinging and I'll swear that if you listened carefully, you could just make out, under the whoops and cheers of West Indian joy, the rattling thump of dozens of delete keys being jabbed at once.

So what does this defeat of the reigning champions and co-favourites mean for the tournament? With groan-inducing predictability Sky had the answer. "India against England on Sunday is absolutely massive!" roared Charles Colville. Will these people never learn?

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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