T20s are trivial fun, which is ok

Blog Opinion

The opening round of WT20 Super Eights matches were about as good as expected, which is to say very good indeed.

The opening round of WT20 Super Eights matches were about as good as expected, which is to say very good indeed.

The most obvious thing to talk about is, of course, the thrills. In particular wins for Sri Lanka and Pakistan were about as exciting as you can ask for from tournament play if nobody can get knocked out yet.

Sri Lanka were at one stage in total control only to concede New Zealand the initiative, then wrestled it back and won in a Super Over. It almost feels that having Lasith Malinga for those things is in some way cheating because he is just a bit too good at it, but good luck to the hosts who most people want to see do well most of the time.

South Africa, in an even more dominant position at one stage, could not recover from Umar Gul's startling attack on their bowlers and on Albie Morkel in particular. Gul epitomised the phrase 'unlikely hero' in smashing a T20 best 32.

The C365 Twitter account, much calmer and clear-headed than AB de Villiers, declared with typical South African finesse: 'The first person to say 'choke' will get punched in the head.'

In some quarters the England-West Indies game was also hailed as a humdinger but if with 15 overs to go you face a target Eoin Morgan at this best cannot chase down then you were never really in it. The final of the four was the most disappointing, India losing to a moderate Australian team to leave themselves on the brink.

While we can keep the c word out of it, there are some analytical questions to be asked of this first round of matches. In particular, why have so many people bowled so short so often? When has that been a winning tactic in Sri Lanka?

However, we are not going to get bogged down in such business here. Instead let's pay homage to another important element of T20: the way that it doesn't take itself too seriously.

Test cricket and its aficionados, myself included, have tended to defend the five-day game from the T20 onslaught with ever loftier arguments. Analogies are drawn with great literature and infinitely complex systems with the central point that Test cricket is <i>important</i> in the way that all other sport is not.

And, now I've written that last sentence, it is obviously true. No-one in their right mind would use the phrase 'only a Test match', but 'only T20'? Sure, when is it anything else?

But there is a lot to be said for triviality. Let me be clear, I do not mean Chris Gayle dancing in a fashion that most of us would be pilloried for at a wedding (what is it about international millionaire sport stars epitomising cool that allows them to get away with this sort of thing?).

No, I mean Shahid Afridi marching out at 66/5 and smashing his first ball up in the air to make it 66/6. Sometimes you want to play or watch cricket without giving a toss. And the WT20 is really very good for that.

<b>Peter May</b>

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