Reflections on the ICC World Twenty20

By Philip Oliver

Photo: Pete Meade

The damp squib (literally) of the opening ceremony has been long forgotten. The 2009 ICC World Twenty20 was a great success, but what else, other than the undoubted growth and development of the new format, has been learned over the last few weeks?

Don’t kill the golden goose. The success of the tournament, following on from that of the inaugural event in 2007 and subsequent Indian Premier Leagues, should not be used as an invitation by the ICC to flood a cricketing calendar that already contains a huge number of domestic, inter-country and international Twenty20 events with more versions of the format.

It is perhaps too late. Pakistan will barely have time to enjoy their win before they start preparations to defend the title in the Caribbean next Easter. If Twenty20 is to flourish, its flagship tournament needs to have more status than that afforded by being an annual event.

There is plenty for teams as well as administrators to learn. Pakistan proved that momentum is easy to develop and that fortunes can change quickly. The eventual winners were abysmal in losing to England in their opening game but were a juggernaut by the end.

Pakistan also provide the blueprint for Twenty20 success, a formula which differs from that which many expected to be needed when the format was invented.

The winners’ bowling was more important than their batting. Umar Gul, bowling almost exclusively in the second half of the innings, repeated his 2007 feat of being the tournament’s highest wicket-taker, whilst Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal were also near the top of the list and maintaining respective economy rates of 5.82 and 5.32, proved that good spin bowling is the key to restricting opponents.

Kamran Akmal might have been the tournament’s fourth highest runscorer, but Pakistan’s opening partnership rarely fired. They relied on a long batting line-up and benefitted in the latter stages from keeping wickets in hand.

Talisman Shahid Afridi scored successive half centuries from number three in the semi final and final, proving that first wicket is the place to bat for teams’ most destructive player. India in particular need to heed this lesson – Yuvraj Singh struck more sixes than anyone (nine), but faced only 99 balls in the whole event.

Now though, our attention can turn to taking a look at the Ashes odds before placing our Ashes bets. If you need to get in the betting mood, check out Betfair’s fan v fan site.

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