Tag Archives: world T20

Sammy plays

People love to abuse, mock or belittle Darren Sammy. He is, after all, West Indies’ non-playing captain.

Most people don’t think he should be in the side, and even those who do don’t think he should be leading it. He’s a punchline or a punching bag. His medium pace is very gentle and his wild slogging is rarely effective. In his World Twenty20 winning side he is only more naturally talented than Johnson Charles, Denesh Ramdin and Samuel Badree.

Michael Holding, most cricket fans on twitter, and anywhere West Indies cricket gathers there are people that don’t want Sammy as captain of the side. Most of those people don’t want him in the side at all. He’s not good enough, he brings nothing to the side, Chris Gayle could do a better job and he’s taking the spot of someone better, is what they say. They say it a lot.

Sammy has heard all of this. He’s just a nice guy. You could imagine him at a friend’s party, being holed up in the corner by someone who is telling him he should step down because he isn’t good enough. Every day he plays for West Indies, he simply does his best. Sometimes it is not good enough, but you can see how much he tries, see how much he wants it, and see that he is trying to build something for the islands and cricket team he loves.

Tonight this barely-talented, slow-bowling guy who isn’t that good is the captain of the World Twenty20 champions.

His innings was as far from pretty. He barely kept out yorkers, hit crazily across the line, mistimed almost everything and bludgeoned a couple of boundaries in the last over. He heaved West Indies to a score that Sri Lanka could not challenge. This was a captain’s innings.

Off the field, Sammy has strolled around his tournament with a grin, always happy to chat, always smiling and never looking like a man under pressure. He is known as the “the unofficial nicest man in cricket”. Every press conference he has pushed unity of his many nations. He has done everything he can to keep his often-fractured team together. He is using this tournament to build something special. Something for the future. Something the people of the West Indies can be proud of.

“1st huddle conquered now on to the super 8 one people one team one goal wi bleed maroon…” from @DarrenSammy

With the ball, he came on at a time when Sri Lanka had thrust Angelo Mathews up the order. Mathews can score quickly, Mathews can get your run-rate back on track, Mathews is a big-game player, and Mathews is a closer. Sammy brought up his fine leg, knowing Mathews would be tempted. Sammy tried an offcutter and Mathews fell straight into his trap, missing the ball as it moved further away from him off the pitch. Mathews was no longer the match-winner. In his next over Sammy let one run through and collected the wicket of the last recognised batsman. This was clever and gutsy bowling from a leader.

Just having West Indies enter a tournament with a realistic chance of winning was a victory for Sammy. West Indies have not been travelling the world blazing all the teams they pass. They’ve played well at times against England, Australia, India and New Zealand. People have often talked up a West Indies renaissance before, but in the cold hard light of an international tournament it has fallen apart. To win this tournament you need luck, skill and timing.

“Booooom what a performance by team Windies. One team one people one goal one more hurdle. For the fans. Wi All In” from @DarrenSammy

In the field Sammy used his bowlers brilliantly. His use of Badree was different than normal, but perfect for the situation. He got through cheap overs from Gayle and Marlon Samuels to give himself flexibility. He used Sunil Narine as a strike weapon and someone who could be kept as a saver. And he had Sri Lanka batting the exact way he needed them to bat. Nothing ever got away from him and, even when Kulasakera was hitting out, he just brought back Narine to finish it all and not let his players get nervous. His captaincy was directly responsible for Sri Lanka’s failure.

West Indies were lucky to even make the semi-finals. New Zealand should have beaten them in their regular innings, but Narine was just too good and sent them to the Super Over. Then in the Super Over someone made a huge mistake. It was the only time West Indies truly looked like a team who wasn’t sure who their leader was. Samuels bowling the Super Over was just wrong, and was only undone by Samuels batting in the Super Over. A mistake like that, and the lack of cohesiveness out on the field while it happened, could have been enough for previous West Indies sides to lose their focus and play limply in the semi-final and fade away.

Instead they played their most perfect game and smashed Australia in every way.

Every single player on this team has a role. This is not a team of flashy show-offs who do solo missions. It is a talented team with a captain who trusts and manages his players the best way he can. In the final, they did not panic when they couldn’t score, they simply waited for their time. They did not panic when they couldn’t break through, they simply worked very hard. That is a team, and this team has a leader.

“Wi bleeding maroon for the fan..this is it … One team One people One Goal…” From @Darrensammy

In the final of the World T20, Sammy ended with 2 for 6 off two overs, 26 off 15 balls and a trophy. It doesn’t sound like non-playing.

Sammy is the man no one wanted as a player. Sammy is the man who no one wanted as a captain. And Sammy is the captain who has given his team their first major ICC trophy since 1979.

“This is it for the fans wi bleed maroon wi came wi saw and wi conquered. One team one people and the goal was achieved” From @Darrensammy

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England are better, Australia are back to back

England are the world’s best women cricket team.

They have shown this by regularly slapping the ass off anyone who crosses their path.

If women’s cricket teams were villages, England would’ve burned them all fucken down.

Sarah Taylor is a fucken superstar.

Katherine Brunt is really good.

And they have a team of spinners that eats up wickets around the world.

Today they lost.

To Australia.

In a final.

Final.

I’ve lost all sorts of sporting matches in my life.  Sometimes we’ve been lucky to be there, sometimes we’ve been as good as the opposition, and sometimes we’ve been better and played really shit.

England did the last one.

They’re not massively better than Australia, but they are better.

And that is what would hurt.

Not getting to within six runs off the last ball only to drip it along the surface. That they were even in that situation to begin with.

England didn’t really seemed to be playing Australia at all, they seemed to be playing against the run rate and the pressure.

And one worried them and one shat on them.

People often say, the best side won.

But, while Australia were the best side on the day, they don’t really look like the best side altogether.

Australia saved their freak out for so late in the game that it didn’t matter, just.

It is almost important at this point to say two things, Australia have won two thirds of all Women World T20s.

And that Jess Cameron is from Victoria.

Result: Back to back, baby.

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the doherty over

George Bailey and Xavier Doherty have known each other since they were kids. Tonight Bailey tested that friendship by throwing Doherty into a vat of acid to see if he could swim. Doherty was demolished.

There was no one other than Bailey who thought bowling Doherty in that last over was anything other than a colossal mistake. West Indies had the two people in world cricket most likely to eat Doherty alive with the bat in their hands. They were well set, relaxed, already had a big total, and had cartoon drool coming out of their mouths as Doherty held the ball at the top of his mark.

Doherty’s first two overs had gone for 23, it was probably his worst bowling performance of the tournament already, and now he had six balls at Pollard and Gayle when they only had one thing on their minds, how far they could hit him.

To his credit, Doherty looked reasonably calm as he walked up. There was no reason to be calm. The score was already 180, and Australia had only taken three wickets. He and Bailey placed the field carefully, although it seemed like a waste of time even then.

The first ball was a disaster. It couldn’t have been worse. A finger-spinner bowling a knee-high full toss to Chris Gayle is like throwing a cabbage at Swamp Thing. Gayle just hit it. He’s been hitting full tosses for six since he grew fingernails in the womb. Sometimes you hear the commentators say that low full tosses can be really hard to get away. They don’t mean this kind; this kind is hit for six by players who don’t hit sixes. Gayle smashed it.

Brad Hogg had been the pick of the spinners in this match, he had an over left. David Hussey was quite often used at the death, he had two overs left. It’s doubtful whether any other captain would have thrown the ball to Doherty, or found a situation where he thought it was the right thing to do. Doherty is good at the start, against South Africa he set up the match with the new ball. He slides the new ball well, and gets just enough purchase to make the batsmen worry. At the end he seems like a less-viable candidate as he has little mystery and seems to come onto the bat really well.

The next ball had to be something special, it had to land to begin with. It had to be out of Gayle’s arc and it had to stay on the playing surface. Doherty showed that he was calm and good enough to bowl the finger-spinner’s trusty retort, the fired-in one at the pads. Gayle couldn’t smash it, he couldn’t do much with it at all, he just let it hit his pad and limp a single.

In normal life, and for large parts of the rest of the innings, Gayle being off strike had been Australia’s dream. It seemed much of their tactic was simply to keep him from being on strike. Considering Gayle had batted the entire 19.2 overs, and the score wasn’t 300, it had worked. But now Kieron Pollard was in. Pollard is someone who can look rubbish at the start of any tournament or series, but then he warms up. Considering he often struggles against real pace, and he’d just driven a 150km yorker for four and scooped another one straight over his head, it was quite clear he was the Killer Kieron, not the Pillock Pollard.

Doherty went straight at him on a length, probably thinking he could slip one through him. As he saw Pollard get down on one knee, he must have even thought he’d got under the bat on a pitch where the spinners had kept the odd ball low. Instead Pollard slogged it hard to midwicket, flat and dangerous. Hogg came around, and flung his hand at it, but was probably lucky it didn’t take his hand for six as well.

This was now horrible for Doherty. Much like in Adelaide.

Doherty’s often been thought of as a good limited-overs bowler, but many were shocked when he was brought into the Australian Test squad. The man had a stutter ball, was often calm under pressure and had good control, but nothing about him screamed Test bowler. He was clearly brought in as the left-arm equivalent of Nathan Haurtiz, a stocker bowler who could keep the run-rate down.

In Adelaide, Kevin Pietersen ruined that theory. Pietersen looked like he wanted to take out all his previous bad-form frustration and problems with losing the captaincy out on Doherty. It was brutal punishment, and the one thing Doherty was supposed to do, he couldn’t. Pietersen was simply too good, too aggressive, and Doherty was yanked from attack between the 65th to the 103rd over. Bowling between overs 65 to 80 was one of the main reasons he was in the side in the first place.

Yet again he had a KP tormenting him. And his fourth ball was a low full toss, the one that is supposed to be hard to hit. Pollard hit it hard. He cleared long-off with it. West Indies had now scored 19 runs off the over, and were 199.

Doherty’s over was now beyond horrible, and there were still two balls left. Doherty bowled seam when he was a kid, and he resorted to what seamers do when the batsmen is hitting them everywhere. Full and straight. Perhaps Pollard moved back in the crease, maybe Doherty missed the blockhole by an inch or two, but Pollard just blew it away for another six.

The West Indies had now jumped the magical 200-mark. Even the superhuman Shane Watson would struggle to get Australia there. The last ball from Doherty was much like when he took the wicket of KP in Adelaide, it meant nothing; all the damage was done, and would be replayed for years to come. Pollard slicing the ball to long-off was not a victory for Australia, Doherty or Bailey; it was just a chance to leave the field.

By the time Bailey was next involved in the game, Australia could not win the match. Bailey played perhaps his best innings for Australia. It showed guts, determination, took a swipe at his many detractors and was the only reason Australia made it to triple-figures. There was proper anger in his batting, he really wanted to make a mark. It was also like screaming at a hurricane.

For Doherty there was no fightback, saving grace or moral victory; he was simply the victim. The only screams for Doherty were screams of laughter from the people who’ve never had to bowl the last over of an innings at two of nature’s perfect killers while the cricket world watches.

Result: All the Australians still have their teeth, Johnson Charles is a member of the illuminate.

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aussie women need runs

Nineteen off 21, 11 off 11, 23 off 25, 21 off 25 and 19 off 22. It’s a start for Australia, but not much more.

Meg Lanning, Jess Cameron, Lisa Sthalekar, Alex Blackwell and Jodie Fields all looked good at times, but none kicked on, in strike-rate or total. It was like they all had an invisible wall they would run into as they approached 25. It meant that the total of 115 was just within reach of West Indies, even without Stafanie Taylor or Deandra Dottin adding anything to the total.

It was the Australian bowlers, led by the miserly Sthalekar and the wicket-taking Perry, who made 115 look far more impressive than it was.

The important thing is the Aussies still won, and made the final. The worrying thing is that not a single Australian batsman has made a half-century in this tournament. In fact, the highest score is 42. Forty-two. It’s not what you expect to see of a team which has made it through to the final. It’s what you expect of a team that didn’t even qualify for the semis.

India, who didn’t qualify for the semis, have a 50 in this tournament from Poonam Raut.
Australia is clearly the second-best team in this tournament; West Indies and New Zealand both have good players, India has Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, and Sri Lanka, South Africa and Pakistan are a level below at this stage. But England just look far ahead.

England barely worked up a sweat while beating Australia and New Zealand easily in their last two games. When their batsmen get in, they make big fast scores, generally in match-winning partnerships. For some reason, the Australians are not doing that. It’s not like their batting line-up lacks talent. Lanning is a very good player, Cameron can smack the ball, Sthalekar is pure class, Blackwell holds the middle order together, Healy strikes well and Fields plays like Australian wicketkeepers have for decades. But you don’t win many finals with a run-a-ball 20-odd.

On a pitch with little spin, acting was slow and low, West Indies choked Australia with 10 overs of spin to start the match. It wasn’t a tactic especially to slow Australia, just something the Windies had been using all tournament, but Australia never really handled it well. There were some boundaries, and some singles, but not enough of either, and never a good combination of both.

The West Indies bowlers were all decent, and they worked well together, but Australia should have scored far more. Jodie Fields said they would have been happier with 140. They shouldn’t have lost as many wickets as they did. They should have worked the often-strange field placements of the West Indies. They should have just done better.

Australia have one last chance to get it right, but they won’t be playing the plucky West Indies side, they’ll be playing the most brutal and unforgiving team in world cricket. A team full of match-winners, who all know their roles, and who will expect to win the tournament they have dominated so far. They are talented, well schooled and the most professional team in women’s cricket. To beat them, you need to be at your very best. A succession of super-fast cameos might help you win. An epic innings often will.

Australia may be the reigning champions and these conditions might be different to Galle, but they will need to significantly improve on this performance to make the final a fair fight. Stacking up another pile of 20 odds won’t do it.

Result: Arisa Mohammad: One step into her run up, she leaps into their air with her arms touching the sky, then skins in, and bowls round arm finger spin off what appears to be from the wrong foot a mile back from the crease. Awesome.

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the kiwi women slide

New Zealand have been in the last two World T20 finals, losing both, one to Australia and one to England. They lost to Australia from the last ball, and fought hard after making an under-par score against the English. They were well drilled, well lead and played consistently good cricket. They were good with the ball, in the field or when batting. They were not a team of champions, but a team that played consistently good cricket.

In this tournament they have not.

Having already lost to the West Indies in the qualifying rounds, essentially limping towards the semi-final, they were not expected to dominate the best team in women’s cricket, but at least hold their own.

Instead they were easily outplayed in almost every way.

Their fielding was poor by their standards, a great sliding throw and overhead catch would take much of the focus away from their fumbling and the keeper, Katey Martin, letting balls straight through her legs.

With the ball they tried hard, but lacked any key weapons. Nicola Browne started well early on, and Erin Bermingham landed some good deliveries, but neither ever looked like breaking through.

It was with the bat the kiwis were really bad. Amy Satterthwaite was the only batsmen who stayed in for any length of time, but her 30 off 39 was scratchy and she struggled to get enough singles or boundaries to put England under any pressure. They struggled against the pace of Katherine Brunt and the spin of Danni Wyatt and Holly Colvin. They couldn’t manoeuvre the ball around, seemed to lack power to blast through and at no stage did they look like making a score that would challenge England at all.

They even managed to miss out on a wicket because of a back-foot no ball. It couldn’t have gone much further wrong for them.

Perhaps the only part of the game they looked on par with England was in captaincy. Suzie Bates is one of the best leaders in world cricket and tactically she is arguably as good as any playing captain around. She refused to give up, and instead of allowing easy singles, which is the modern captain’s way, she regularly kept up to six players inside the circle to choke England and make them play the big shots.

Bates’ tactics kept England batting for longer than they wanted and pushed the game into the 18th over with ring fields and attacking moves. At one stage she even used Browne to bowl short to England, hoping for a mistimed pull shot from Taylor, that they got, but it didn’t go to hand. It was desperate, and didn’t get the result New Zealand needed, which was a miracle after their disastrous batting display, started by Bates with a horrendous run out for a duck.

It was a pitch that even with 20 or 30 runs more, perhaps, Bates’ tricks might have been enough. Although it is hard to see where they could have found 20 or 30 more runs as they didn’t ever handle the conditions all that well.

New Zealand have been a very strong team for a long time. Failing to get to the final should be the motivation that they need to get the most out of this young squad. They are young, talented, play as a team and are magnificently led.

They owe it to themselves to do better than simply be the team England ease past on their way to the final.

It was with the bat the kiwis were really bad. Amy Satterthwaite was the only batsmen who stayed in for any length of time, but her 30 off 39 was scratchy and she struggled to get enough singles or boundaries to put England under any pressure. They struggled against the pace of Katherine Brunt and the spin of Dani Wyatt and Holly Colvin. They couldn’t manoeuvre the ball around, seemed to lack power to blast through and at no stage did they look like making a score that would challenge England at all.

They even managed to miss out on a wicket because of a back-foot no ball. It couldn’t have gone much further wrong for them.

Perhaps the only part of the game they looked on par with England was in captaincy. Suzie Bates is one of the best leaders in world cricket and tactically she is arguably as good as any playing captain around. She refused to give up, and instead of allowing easy singles, which is the modern captain’s way, she regularly kept up to six players inside the circle to choke England and make them play the big shots.

Bates’ tactics kept England batting for longer than they wanted and pushed the game into the 18th over with ring fields and attacking moves. At one stage she even used Browne to bowl short to England, hoping for a mistimed pull shot from Taylor, that they got, but it didn’t go to hand. It was desperate, and didn’t get the result New Zealand needed, which was a miracle after their disastrous batting display, started by Bates with a horrendous run out for a duck.

It was a pitch that even with 20 or 30 runs more, perhaps, Bates’ tricks might have been enough. Although it is hard to see where they could have found 20 or 30 more runs as they didn’t ever handle the conditions all that well.

New Zealand have been a very strong team for a long time. Failing to get to the final should be the motivation that they need to get the most out of this young squad. They are young, talented, play as a team and are magnificently led.

They owe it to themselves to do better than simply be the team England ease past on their way to the final.

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Sri Lanka, Zindabad

There was a time during the India South Africa game where I really suspected that  someone was making South African flags out the back of the Prema and selling them for a few rupees.  At first they weren’t there, and then suddenly one whole stand was holding up the South African colours.  The Pakistani fans were the ones holding the flags, as most of the South African fans had gone home.

During the India Pakistan game it appeared like 4 out of 5 Sri Lankans at the game had adopted Pakistan as their home team.  Thousands of fans had Sri Lankan shirts on and were waving Pakistan flags or had their face painted with the Pakistani flag on it.  They were as Pakistani as you could get, for just the three hours.

It’s been one of the highlights of this tournament.

People picking their second country to follow, or following a whole new country just for qualification purposes while supporting them as much as they could and the cheering of superhuman feats no matter whose team performs them.

That stopped tonight.

Outside the grounds I swear some of the very same people I saw screaming for Pakistan a few nights back were now chanting “Go home Pakistan”, “bye, bye, Pakistan” or “Sri Lanka Zindabad”.  Pakistan fans coming out of the stadium were greeted by laughing or taunting Sri Lanka fans who had long forgotten that Pakistan were there second favourite side and were now happily giving them some stick.

This is more of a party than a tournament.  And I’m not just talking about what goes on player’s hotel rooms.

Because of the setting, the amount of games in quick succession and the nature of double headers, it’s been far less patriotic than a bilateral series or even a world cup.  If you are here to support your country, you are probably also going to see neutral games as well.  It’s how this tournament is.

But tonight all that disappeared.  The Sri Lankans had been cheering Chris Gayle supporting the Pakistanis and getting excited at Shane Watson, but not any more.  Tonight Pakistan was the opposition, not their second favourite team.

Watson or Gayle can be sure that their sixes will be met largely by silence followed by an ICC firework.

The Sri Lankan fans can now see themselves winning this.  They really want to win it.  They even started partying like they were winning it.  One fan drinking what appeared to be arrack as he hung out of the sunroof of a car while wearing a Sri Lankan shirt and wrapped in a Sri Lankan flag was certainly enjoying the victory.  There seemed to be more fans outside the ground than could ever fit into the ground.

Most of them, when there wasn’t a Pakistani fan to laugh at, were already calling Sri Lanka the champions.  Why wait to Sunday when you can start celebrating now.

The party bit of this tournament has definitely ended, the party in Sri Lanka may not end for quite some time.

Result: I missed Afridi’s last ever innings (well it could be) by deciding to wash my hands. Dilshan now won’t get beaten to death by a sack of rambutans.

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suzie bates is a captain

Some of you think women’s cricket is shit.

You have no idea who Suzie Bates is, or who she plays for.

But if you watched women’s cricket you’d know that Suzie Bates is a motherfucken superstar captain.

Today her side limped along to 90 odd.

They struggled to get the ball off the square, and Bates ran herself out for a duck.

They had no right to keep England in the field for more than 10 overs.

And they certainly don’t have a barnstorming burn your house down attack.

But they have Suzie Bates.

And Suzie Bates can captain.

Suzie Bates can captain so much that on a slowish Sri Lankan pitch she brought up mid on and mid off whilst getting her opening bowler Nicola Browne to try and bounce out the world’s best T20 batsman Sarah Taylor.

It almost worked.

How often would a women’s captain defending 90odd in a T20 decide to bounce out the oppositions best batsman?

I’m guessing never, because I’m sure it’s never.

That is Susie Bates.  That is why you should know who Suzie Bates is.

When you’re sitting in front of your TV or illegal stream screaming at your team’s captain for sitting back and letting team milk singles as they wander head first into an inevitable victory, I want you to know that Suzie Bates wouldn’t do that.

She would try shit, bring people up, do some weird shit and create something. She is by far my favourite captain in world cricket.

Susie Bates is only 25, you need to start following the kiwi women’s team before she becomes an old battle scarred captain who puts people out on the rope if someone hints at playing a shot.

Results: England go through with ease.  Holly Colvin was the first international player I ever interviewed.

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