World Twenty20: Three talking points as Sri Lanka reach final
World Twenty20: Three talking points as Sri Lanka reached the final after beating defending champions West Indies
Well, one thing is for certain. If hot air could dry pitches, then the chuntering that invariably follows any game resolved via the Duckworth / Lewis method would make the calculation itself redundant. And today was no exception. No sooner had the rain started to fall than the mutterings began that the West Indies team’s depth of batting made it a closer game than the D/L result would come to suggest. But even allowing for the similarity in the teams’s innings progress before the heavens opened (Sri Lanka, after 13.5 overs, were 92-4) and for the oncoming storm that is Darren Sammy coming to the wicket, no-one could seriously suggest that West Indies were unfairly denied. Certainly, there are arguments for the system to be tweaked, not least where a chasing team, after a rain break, finds itself at the start of its innings with a lower total to chase, fewer balls to reach it, but crucially with all of their wickets in hand. But those who call for a complete system overhaul would be well-advised to remember what went before – particularly 1992, and 12 minutes (12 minutes!) of rain which turned a cliffhanger into a farce. 22 runs required from 13 balls for South Africa to beat England and reach the World Cup final became 21 needed off one. For all the opprobrium which can be thrown the way of Duckworth / Lewis, it has undoubtedly consigned such rank injustice to history.
Who is actually good at Twenty20?
Sri Lanka’s victory continues an unusual record. This is the fifth World Twenty20 tournament, and none of the previous four victors has ever made the final next time round. Not only that, but should Sri Lanka (or, for that matter, South Africa) win the tournament, there will have been five different winning countries- in seven years. Consider an equivalent period in Test terms. Has there ever been a similar level of flux at the top in Test cricket history? The ascendancy in recent years may have swung to some extent between South Africa, India and England (yes, England – don’t forget, until November 2013 they were actually pretty good!), but before that there were teenagers who knew nothing but Australian dominance, and there are grown men who still tremble at thoughts of Ambrose and Walsh, Garner and Holding. While there is no doubt that, within the individual World Twenty20 tournaments which have come to date, the cream has generally risen to the top, it is at the very least an oddity that no country has yet looked to really take this form of the game by the scruff of the neck.
Sanga set up for a final flourish?
Kumar Sangakkara has had, let us make no bones about it, a stinker of a tournament. In five matches, he has scored a grand total of 19 runs, and 14 of those came in his team’s first game. While the bowlers have been running amok, he has taken two catches and pulled off one stumping. Today, he managed to avoid the total wipeout of a duck, no catches and no stumpings that he suffered against England in the group stages, but only just, as he nudged a relatively nondescript ball back at Badree for a six-ball one. Like that between madness and genius, the line between patience and stubbornness is a very fine one, and with Dinesh Chandimal, the Sri Lankan captain, presumably looking to actually play in the final having dropped himself for this game, Sangakkara is undeniably the batsman in his team who is most out of form. Surely, though, there can be no serious suggestion that he will be sacrificed, and so on Sunday, he will play his last Twenty20 international, as he starts to enter the long dark teatime of his career. And would anyone truly begrudge this great statesman of the game a glorious return to form, one more elegant knock and his hands on the trophy just to finish it all off?