Tournament review

ICC World Twenty20 2010

Tony Cozier

1. England 2. Australia 3= Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Paul Collingwood holds aloft the ICC World Twenty20 trophy, England v Australia, ICC World Twenty20 final, Barbados, May 16, 2010
England's first global trophy after 35 years © AFP

To Paul Collingwood it was "a massive achievement, right up there with last year's Ashes win". To Haroon Lorgat it was "a truly memorable event which showcased the unique culture and passion for cricket in the Caribbean".

Their euphoria following the third ICC World Twenty20 tournament was fully understandable, if generated from different perspectives. Collingwood, England's short-term, short-game captain, had just led his team to their first global trophy after 35 years of failure and frustration in nine World Cups, six editions of the Champions Trophy and two World Twenty20 tournaments.

Lorgat, the ICC's chief executive, was speaking with as much relief as elation; the event did realise one of its aims, to atone for the universally reviled 2007 World Cup, the first major ICC event staged in the region, which smothered "the unique culture and passion for cricket in the Caribbean" with its security-obsessed organisation.

England's triumph, the culmination of a campaign virtually flawless after the qualifying stage, was all the sweeter as the opponents they thoroughly outplayed in the final were their oldest rivals, Australia, who were denied the only global title still eluding them. For England, it was compensation for the 6-1 thrashing in the one-day series that had followed their recapture of Ashes the previous summer. It was appropriate that it should be at Bridgetown's Kensington Oval, long since the favoured overseas venue for England's supporters, who transformed the stands into a Caribbean Wembley with a sea of St George flags. When Collingwood, whose unassuming leadership was one of the influential factors in the success, clubbed the winning run, the delight of his team-mates who dashed on to embrace him was unconfined.

As the trophy was lifted and the champagne sprayed on the victors, somewhere in the hospitality boxes ICC and West Indies Cricket Board officials were also popping corks in celebration. Julian Hunte, the WICB president, declared that his people had "every reason to be proud… for pulling it off in such spectacular fashion".

It was in striking contrast to the shambles of the last World Cup, when the rain-reduced final on the same ground ended in disarray and darkness, and the predecessors of Lorgat and Hunte - Malcolm Speed and Ken Gordon - were roundly booed by spectators angered by the overbearing regulations that undermined the eagerly awaited event.

An intense promotional campaign, under the slogan "Bring It", clearly achieved its purpose. Spectators heeded the call - even when made by a reserved Welshman, ICC president David Morgan - to "bring your musical instruments, your songs and cheers, your flags, banners and colourful costumes". Nor, with prices slashed by more than half, did they have to fork out an average month's wage for tickets, as they did three years before.

The Caribbean touch was most distinctive as steel bands melodiously rendered the national anthems of the teams before each match; not everyone appreciated the incessant beating of drums and blowing of horns and conch shells that followed. "It's not a feˆte in there, it's madness," wrote B. C. Pires in The Nation of Barbados after one match at Kensington Oval. "I've been in quieter sheeting-iron factories. You leave cricket feeling you've been beaten inside and out." At the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia, reporters in the open-air press box had to seek the hush of the toilet for mobile-phone contact with their offices.

Such a cacophony did not explain the empty seats at many matches. Lorgat claimed that the ICC "recognised the need to involve all the local people", but this was hardly possible when the first of the two daily matches usually started at 9.30 a.m. Only three of the 27 games in the men's competition were played in the evening under lights (available at each venue), which would have been ideal for a few hours of all-action Twenty20 after work or school.

The reason for the early starts was to accommodate prime-time viewing in the major television markets of India and the UK. Given the vast sums paid by Sony for the rights, it brooked no argument, but it did limit local involvement. For all that, the general assessment coincided with that of Lorgat and Hunte.

Indisputably the two best teams arrived at the final. If there were none of the upsets that enliven any major sporting event, the presence of Afghanistan among the game's elite for the first time was a fairytale in itself. The canny left-arm spin of the youngest participant, 17-year-old Irishman George Dockrell, also caught the imagination - and the interest of Somerset; his combined returns against West Indies and England were 8-0-35-3. The two Associate qualifiers, Afghanistan and Ireland, departed in the first round as expected, along with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Of the eight Full Members that survived, England at last proved to be the best.

There were no new trick shots, such as Tillekeratne Dilshan's daring overthe- shoulder "starfish" in England a year earlier; instead, Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene and India's Suresh Raina proved that conventional strokeplay can be just as effective. Both made stylish hundreds in the opening round, the first in the tournament since Chris Gayle's 117 for West Indies against South Africa at the start of the inaugural event in 2007-08.

The three grounds presented contrasting conditions testing everyone's adaptability. The National Stadium at Providence was similar to the old Bourda with its slow turn and low bounce, but Guyana's notorious equatorial weather caused the contentious use of the Duckworth/Lewis method in three of its six first-round matches, with another washed out before achieving a result. Not a ball was lost at Beausejour, where bowlers gained little from the bland pitches, or at Kensington Oval, where bouncer-shy batsmen (notably India's) were exposed on true, lively surfaces.

England mastered all conditions, even though their one defeat was at Providence and they qualified for the Super Eights without actually winning - they tied on one point with Ireland but had a better run-rate. It was amisleading preface to their subsequent unbeaten advance to the title.

Collingwood rightly complained about the calculations of Duckworth/Lewis in their opening defeat. England had amassed 191 for five from their 20 overs, but West Indies easily achieved a reduced target of 60 from six. England believed a similarly unfair formula had led to their elimination from the 2009 tournament when they lost to West Indies at The Oval, and Collingwood was fed up with it: "95% of the time when you get 191 on the board you are going to win the game," he fumed. "Unfortunately Duckworth/Lewis seems to have other ideas and brings the equation completely the other way." Frank Duckworth, the retired mathematical scientist who devised the system with statistician Tony Lewis, immediately responded with a strong defence. It was true that West Indies had eased their own path by scoring 30 without loss from the 14 balls possible before the rain-break.

The following day, Ireland restricted England to 120 for eight (their only lower score in Twenty20 internationals was 111 against South Africa at Trent Bridge in 2009), but were denied the chance of an upset when rain arrived in the fourth over of their reply. As they had been routed for 68 by West Indies in their previous match, Ireland might have found even such a modest target out of reach, but they made their exit wondering.

There were no problems for England, from Duckworth/Lewis or from anyone else, once they moved on to Barbados and St Lucia. They were not pressed by Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand in the Super Eights, and completed seven-wicket victories in the semi-final (against Sri Lanka) and the final with overs to spare. Such dominance was matched by no side in either 2007-08 or 2009.

England's success was based primarily on constant selection. Their team changed only once, to allow Kevin Pietersen's return to London to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. It meant a settled order, batting and bowling. England were not once bowled out, and only twice did they call on more than five bowlers, and then only for a solitary over (Luke Wright's brought the wicket of the dangerous Cameron White in the final). Their self-confidence rose conspicuously with every match.

Craig Kieswetter raced to his first fifty of the tournament as England took charge, England v Australia, ICC World Twenty20 final, Barbados, May 16, 2010
England's strategy involved a blitz in the opening powerplay overs © AFP

Coach Andy Flower's batting tactics involved an initial blitz aimed at maximising runs from the six opening powerplay overs, and bowling that had the right balance. The batting belligerence was entrusted to a completely new opening combination - left-hander Michael Lumb (son of the more staid Yorkshire batsman Richard) and wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter - with Pietersen the enforcer at No. 3. Bothered by injury and lack of form for more than a year, Pietersen was back to his best and ended up as Man of the Tournament. The combined aggregate of these three - 607 runs in seven matches - was compiled off 467 balls and included 21 sixes and 62 fours. When they did not deliver and the innings wobbled at 66 for four against New Zealand (the match Pietersen missed), Eoin Morgan and Wright put things right with a partnership of 52; earlier, it was the same pair's 95 from 9.2 overs that had propelled the total to 191 against West Indies.

Lumb, Kieswetter and Pietersen were born, raised and learned their cricket in South Africa, and Morgan in Ireland, prompting former England captain Mike Atherton, who is now chief cricket writer at The Times, to echo the widely held view that "Collingwood's team would not have gone down in English folklore… People do not generally regard this England team as an 'English' team." Others noted that, until Pietersen was second out in the match against South Africa, the only men on the field not born in South Africa were the umpires, Aleem Dar of Pakistan and the London-born Steve Davis of Australia. It was a puzzling point; England's teams have long included players who were born, and developed their early cricket, in other lands.

The bowling was entrusted to the seam and swing of Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Ryan Sidebottom, and the contrasting spin of the crafty Graeme Swann and the flat, left-arm darts of Michael Yardy, all indubitably English. A "slow bouncer" was one of the pace bowlers' collective innovations. The bowlers were supported by outstanding catching and ground fielding and never conceded more than New Zealand's 149 for six against England.

Australia played under a new captain, following Ricky Ponting's decision to forgo the Twenty20 game; it was clear that Michael Clarke was still feeling his way. His own returns were so meagre (92 runs off 114 balls) that he acknowledged afterwards he was "not up to scratch". Yet despite having to claw themselves out of more than one hole, his team entered the final with the only 100% record, as they had done in their last two World Cup campaigns.

Even in the absence of Brett Lee, a late withdrawal with an arm injury, their attack was heavily based on pace - Shaun Tait and left-armers Mitchell Johnson and Dirk Nannes (the Dutchman of the 2009 tournament, now playing for his native country, and the leading wicket-taker with 14). What spin there was came mainly from Steven Smith, a blond 20-year-old from Sydney whose curling leg-breaks inevitably, but unfairly, invoked comparisons with another more illustrious blond tweaker from Down Under. Smith is no Shane Warne and his batting is likely to be his stronger suit, but he still bagged 11 wickets; only Nannes had more. Australia bowled out the opposition in their first five matches, before failing to do so in the semi and final.

Unusually, Australia's top-order batting was wobbly. But time and again Mike Hussey restored the situation, after which the fast men usually did their thing. Hussey was there with Smith to pull them round from 65 for six to 141 for seven against Bangladesh and, with White, to turn 67 for five into 168 without another wicket lost against Sri Lanka. But no innings in the tournament came close to matching his intervention in the semi-final against the dangerous Pakistanis. The contest looked as good as over, with Australia 158 for seven, needing 34 off the last two overs to overhaul Pakistan's imposing 191 for six. That was reduced to 18 off the last over; after a single by Johnson, Hussey finished it with a ball to spare, clouting off-spinner Saeed Ajmal for 6646. Apart from two leg-byes and Johnson's run, Hussey made 36 of the 39 scored off those 11 deliveries, his 60 requiring just 24 balls.

Australia again found themselves in a corner in the final at eight for three and 45 for four. Another Hussey, this time David, pushed it up to 147, first with White and then with older brother Mike, but that was never enough to prevent England claiming the trophy. It was left to the Australian women to restore national pride later in the evening.

Michael Hussey is ecstatic after completing a miracle chase, Australia v Pakistan, 2nd semi-final, ICC World Twenty20, St Lucia, May 14, 2010
Michael Hussey's assault on Saeed Ajmal took Australia to the final © Getty Images

Like Australia, Pakistan - the 2007-08 finalists and 2009 champions - were under a new captain. Shahid Afridi was an unlikely choice emerging from the internal upheavals in the wake of their dismal tour of Australia (when he was banned for biting the ball) and they remained as erratic as ever. Their fielding was at times extraordinarily bad - Ajmal dropped three catches within the first five overs against England - but, after early losses to Australia, England and New Zealand (by one run off the last ball), they somehow scraped into the semi by beating South Africa and, but for Hussey's hurricane, would have reached their third straight final.

Pakistan missed the experience, if not the influence, of their debarred former captains Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf, and the cutting edge of Umar Gul, the injured yorker specialist who was one of the principal reasons for their 2009 triumph. Their runs came from the top, from left-handed opener Salman Butt and the Akmal brothers, their wickets mainly from spin. Before his pasting from Hussey, Ajmal was among the tournament's most economical bowlers; his 11 wickets were the joint second-most. Afridi's all-round form, so decisive in England a year earlier, dipped significantly - 91 runs, four wickets - and he ran himself out first ball against England.

Three days before Hussey stole a place in the final from Pakistan, and at the same Beausejour Stadium, similar last-over drama sent Sri Lanka through to the last four and India on their way home to the usual recriminations. With three needed off the final ball of the match, Chamara Kapugedera hoisted Ashish Nehra into the stand at point, which was to secure their date with England.

Promoted to the unaccustomed position of opener (the result of a successful experiment in the IPL), Jayawardene was the tournament's highest run-scorer with 302, but his form dipped sharply after he hit 81, 100 and 98 not out in Sri Lanka's first three matches. Dilshan, the Man of the Tournament in 2009, managed only 71 in six matches this time, while Muttiah Muralitharan struggled with a groin injury that eventually ended his involvement. Sri Lanka thus had to depend too heavily on too few players, mainly the impressive young all-rounder Angelo Mathews, and in the semi-final they were no match for a rampant England.

Muralitharan aimed to continue until the 2011 World Cup, hosted in part by Sri Lanka, but his long-time team-mate Sanath Jayasuriya's prospects were less certain. Age - he turned 41 in June - and the distraction of a new political career seemed to take their toll. His six innings brought him just 15 runs, and in one game he came in down at No. 8.

India and South Africa, in the top three of both Test and one-day rankings, began among the most fancied contenders; they finished among the also-rans. Mahendra Singh Dhoni blamed his team's losses in all three Super Eight matches, after winning both first-round games (an exact repeat of their 2009 showing), on the excessive travelling and the mandatory parties in the IPL, which ended less than a week before their Caribbean campaign. India didn't even bother to have a warm-up game. South Africa's all-rounder Albie Morkel cited history as the reason for another of their failures. "One got the impression that everyone felt the pressure as we had not won a major tournament in 12 years," he said (their only global trophy was the inaugural Champions Trophy, then called the Wills International Cup, in 1998-99).

There were more basic reasons for India's demise than IPL excesses. According to the Indian media, coach Gary Kirsten complained that, at 42, he was fitter than some of the players; certainly there seemed to be a lot more of Yuvraj Singh (who made only 74 runs in five innings) than during his devastating performance in India's inaugural triumph in 2007-08. Kirsten's mood could not have improved after a widely reported altercation in a St Lucia restaurant between some of his charges and irate Indian fans following the loss to Sri Lanka; the Indian board issued show-cause notices to several players, demanding that they explain themselves.

Kirsten would probably have handled short-pitched fast bowling a bit better, too. As in 2009, India's best player of pace, Virender Sehwag, was missing through a shoulder injury; those expected to fill the breach were once more undermined by pace and bounce, losing to Australia and West Indies in two matches at Bridgetown. Sunil Gavaskar recommended special sessions to deal with the problem; Sir Viv Richards volunteered his services as consultant.

India had been more comfortable in St Lucia, where their first-round victory over South Africa, based on Raina's 101, strengthened their status as one of the favourites. But their critical weakness was exposed in those games in Bridgetown. There, too, the South Africans were further deflated, losing heavily to England. The last time the two teams met in Barbados, in the 2007 World Cup, England had been jeered by their thousands of travelling supporters after a humbling defeat with more than 30 overs to spare; now they revelled in the reversal. South Africa's subsequent loss to Pakistan was not surprising.

Gautam Gambhir looks uncomfortable against the short ball, Australia v India, Super Eights, ICC World Twenty20, Bridgetown, May 7, 2010
India were troubled by pace and bounce © Getty Images

Usually credible contenders, New Zealand didn't get enough from their main men this time. No one managed 100 runs in their five matches, no one more than seven wickets. Since they were laden with as many as seven IPL players, there might have been something in Dhoni's theory after all. New Zealand did scrape to the two closest victories, by two wickets with one ball remaining against Sri Lanka, and by one run off the last ball against Pakistan - but Super Eight losses to South Africa and England knocked them out.

West Indies were simply not good enough, prompting Gayle to issue yet another apology to the long-suffering local public for the failure to improve on a similarly inadequate performance in the World Cup on home soil three years earlier. But realistically only cock-eyed optimists expected much more from them. West Indies entered the tournament after losing both Twenty20 matches and all four completed 50-over internationals in Australia in February, followed by another Twenty20 loss and an unconvincing one-day series win at home to Zimbabwe. They conceded two of the five highest totals (England's 191 and Sri Lanka's 195), were aided by Duckworth/Lewis in beating England, and had only one individual innings over 30, Gayle's 98 off 66 balls against India. However, they were quick to use Kensington Oval to their advantage in the same game.

Disappointment at the hosts' capitulation to Australia before a packed Beausejour Stadium in their last match was compounded by the first-ball dismissal of St Lucia's sole representative, Darren Sammy, who had shone with a fine all-round performance in the opening match against Ireland.

Bangladesh could not survive a tough first-round group, losing to Pakistan and Australia, whose early exit in 2009 meant they were unseeded. Zimbabwe had three former captains - Heath Streak, David Houghton and Alistair Campbell - back in management roles following their return from self-imposed exile, and victories over Australia and Pakistan in warm-up matches seemed to indicate the value of the preceding limited-overs series against West Indies in the Caribbean. But their collapse to 84 all out against New Zealand was more the cause of their immediate elimination than the Duckworth/Lewis method that ultimately determined the outcome of both their matches.

Ireland failed to repeat their shocks in making it through to the Super Eight rounds in the 2007 World Cup and the 2009 World Twenty20. Their hopes unravelled in their first match when they were skittled for 68, the tournament's lowest total. That they had earlier contained West Indies to 138 for nine - and England to 120 for eight four days later - was little consolation.

It was Afghanistan's inaugural appearance on the world stage. Their enthusiasm and potential were as obvious as their inexperience and their need for more exposure against stronger teams in a variety of conditions. They were rattled by South Africa's bounce at Bridgetown but, as they moved from 32 for eight to 80 all out, Mirwais Ashraf struck one of the longest sixes of the tournament, off Albie Morkel, on to the roof of the Sobers Pavilion. Fast bowler Hamid Hassan's full-length accuracy made him the meanest of all the bowlers on view, his four wickets from seven overs taken at an average of 7.25 and an economy-rate of 4.14.

At the end - after only 17 days, against the seven protracted weeks of the 2007 World Cup - the BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew's view was that the event "brought a smile back to West Indies cricket". While the ICC and the WICB congratulated themselves on getting it right this time, there were no happy West Indian faces to be found following another let-down by their men's team, a failure accentuated by the advance of their fast-improving women in reaching their semi-final.

The smiles were, at last, all English.

Match reports for

1st Match, Group B: New Zealand v Sri Lanka at Providence, Apr 30, 2010

2nd Match, Group D: West Indies v Ireland at Providence, Apr 30, 2010

3rd Match, Group C: Afghanistan v India at Gros Islet, May 1, 2010

4th Match, Group A: Bangladesh v Pakistan at Gros Islet, May 1, 2010

5th Match, Group C: India v South Africa at Gros Islet, May 2, 2010

6th Match, Group A: Australia v Pakistan at Gros Islet, May 2, 2010

7th Match, Group B: Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe at Providence, May 3, 2010

8th Match, Group D: West Indies v England at Providence, May 3, 2010

9th Match, Group B: New Zealand v Zimbabwe at Providence, May 4, 2010

10th Match, Group D: England v Ireland at Providence, May 4, 2010

11th Match, Group A: Australia v Bangladesh at Bridgetown, May 5, 2010

12th Match, Group C: Afghanistan v South Africa at Bridgetown, May 5, 2010

13th Match, Group E: England v Pakistan at Bridgetown, May 6, 2010

14th Match, Group E: New Zealand v South Africa at Bridgetown, May 6, 2010

15th Match, Group F: Australia v India at Bridgetown, May 7, 2010

16th Match, Group F: West Indies v Sri Lanka at Bridgetown, May 7, 2010

17th Match, Group E: New Zealand v Pakistan at Bridgetown, May 8, 2010

18th Match, Group E: England v South Africa at Bridgetown, May 8, 2010

19th Match, Group F: West Indies v India at Bridgetown, May 9, 2010

20th Match, Group F: Australia v Sri Lanka at Bridgetown, May 9, 2010

21st Match, Group E: Pakistan v South Africa at Gros Islet, May 10, 2010

22nd Match, Group E: England v New Zealand at Gros Islet, May 10, 2010

23rd Match, Group F: India v Sri Lanka at Gros Islet, May 11, 2010

24th Match, Group F: West Indies v Australia at Gros Islet, May 11, 2010

1st Semi-Final: England v Sri Lanka at Gros Islet, May 13, 2010

2nd Semi-Final: Australia v Pakistan at Gros Islet, May 14, 2010

Final: Australia v England at Bridgetown, May 16, 2010

© John Wisden & Co.