Cricket: Hold on to your seats, it's Twenty20

By Dylan Cleaver

Go on, you can admit it. You're the type who complains long and hard to his mates at the pub about the insidious creep of Twenty20 on the cricketing landscape but, when the Twenty20 starts this week, you'll be the first to provide the answer if anybody asks what happened in the match last night. Such is the paradoxical world you live in. Dylan Cleaver provides 20 things to look out for at this year's World Twenty20 Champs for all those who pretend they're not interested.

20 Peter Connell
He's 27 and, according to reports, he's "strapping" and "fast".

He was also born in Dannevirke, as was Ewen Chatfield, one of New Zealand's favourite cricketers who could claim to be neither strapping or fast.

Connell, however, will play for Ireland, just like he did the other day when taking 5-19 against Worcestershire in a one-dayer.

19 Scantily clad women

Twenty20 just seems to attract them. It's incredible how often it happens.

A wicket will fall or a six will be hit and all of a sudden there's these female "fans", all wearing the same spandex kit, gyrating to a DJ on the boundary edge.

The lack of security is appalling.

18 Drunk antipodeans

It's what they do when they're over there.

This correspondent recalls vividly a beer-inspired mass ground invasion at The Oval following an Anzac clash at the 2004 Champions Trophy.

It was labelled "disgraceful scenes" in the papers the next day but, to be perfectly honest, it looked like everybody, security guards included, were having a great time in this impromptu game of bullrush.

17 Signs of electrofulgration

Not so much a simple case of having a scratch in between deliveries.

Every time a cricketer reaches for the nether regions it is fair game to speculate as to whether he has a case of the 'Shoaib Akhtars'.

This after the wayward Pakistani fast bowler was withdrawn from the tournament and outed by his own board as having "genital viral warts and electrofulgration [a surgical procedure] was done on May 12, 2009."

Do you think a few of his team-mates might be now wondering if Shoaib had borrowed their box at any stage?

16 WAGs

Quite why they are so interesting is beyond me but they'll be there and, bet your last dollar, some poor mug will have to cobble up a story about them at some stage.

15 Fancy dress

The English love it. Every ground in that country seems to have a dress up day so it is no surprise to see Scooby Doo sitting next to Osama Bin Laden, with Batman listening with interest in the background.

Don't you love the way cricket brings these diverse cultures together?

14 Technophiles

As soon as somebody gets a diabolical lbw decision after they've inside-edged one on to their pads, the debate about technology will .... yawn... raise its ugly head again.

13 Lalat Modi

This man thinks he's omnipotent but in fact he's only omnipresent.

That's slightly less bothersome than the first option ... but only just.

12 Sex

Actually, wouldn't have a clue about this but research shows that stories that involve sex are more likely to be read, so here goes.

This could also loosely relate to numbers 19, 17, and 16, and it is also what number 18s are ultimately hoping for too.

11 Chris Gayle

Now he's declared his love for T20, the Coolest Man on the Planet would do well to spread that amore.

No better player to watch when the muse strikes.

10 Covers

It is, after all, being played in England, in June.

9 Ross Taylor

Despite being criminally ignored by Bangalore until the later rounds, he emerged as one of the more explosive batsmen going around - but we knew that anyway.

The one form of the game where going out to that attempted slap-shot over midwicket doesn't make him look silly.

8 Contract tournament

As revealed in these pages, the contract year has been shifted two months and will take into account form at this tournament - therefore, ergo, accordingly, this is a massive tournament for Scott Styris, Ian Butler, Peter McGlashan, Neil Broom, Nathan McCullum and Brendon Diamanti.

We're picking only three of those blokes will end up with a fat retainer come the end of June.

7 Blogs

The best thing about the IPL? Fakeiplplayer.blogspot.com. Here's hoping there's another similarly revealing blogger from the World T20.

If not, Lawrence Booth's The Spin, which can be found on The Guardian's website, is a consistently entertaining read, and Iain O'Brien strikes a chord every now and then.

6 Mixed messages

For two weeks we'll hear coaches talk about the importance of T20.

Like this from Australia's Tim Nielsen: "I believe [T20 cricket] will work at international level, but only if it is given more credibility. And you will only get that by scheduling series of three to five games, which will make it more than a promotion, and make a real competition out of it."

Three weeks later we'll hear all bar the winning coach preaching the need to temper the T20 game at international level to preserve the sanctity of tests.

5 Brendon McCullum as keeper

McCullum is not one of the best batsmen in the world.

But he is arguably the most explosive international wicketkeeper-batsman on the planet.

So why wouldn't you play him as exactly that. By taking the gloves off him you're essentially throwing away the one advantage McCullum gives you and ruins the balance of the side.

It makes no sense.

Let McGlashan try to fight his way into the side as one of the six best batsman, not as some cockamamie allrounder designed to give McCullum a break from the gloves.

4 Country vs Country

In terms of the on-field cricket, there was nothing wrong with the IPL but, honestly, who, outside of India, could give a flying futon whether the Daredevils of Delhi beat the Indians of Mumbai?

This is what cricket's all about: country against country, hate against hate.

3 Doosras

Of cricket's myriad deliveries, only the underhand lob and the beamer have created as much of a stir as the doosra.

The simple reason being that there are plenty of good judges who still believe the delivery - the offspinner's version of a legspinner's googly - is impossible to deliver within the laws, even with the 15-degree leeway of elbow bend.

Saeed Ajmal was the latest to have his doosra officially challenged.

He passed. "I was carrying a 50-kilo bag on my head and Sunday's decision has allowed me to throw that bag off my head," Ajmal told AFP.

Others have not been as lucky. South Africa's Johan Botha is not allowed to bowl his until he has made biomechanical changes.

Who has the best? Still tough to beat the incomparable Muttiah Muralitharan, but Ajantha Mendis has a bewildering array of deliveries, including the doosra.

2 Spruikers

In the old days they were known as commentators but so low has this art-form sunk it no longer does justice to the greats of yesteryear (Arlott, McGilvray, Benaud during his BBC years) to call them such.

In T20 they don't "call" the "game", they "sell" the "product".

But if they were the type of salesman that showed up on your door with a bottle of Daz and a request for 10 minutes of your time you would send them down the road without a moment's hesitation.

Never before has the "mute" button on the remote been used as heavily as it was during the IPL when the commentary was toe-curlingly wretched.

They made Tommy Smyth "with a Y" look as perceptive as Goethe.

Please just turn the show over to Bumble, Athers and Nass.

We might not get the same level of puerility and over-the-top enthusiasm, but does T20 really need it? Isn't this the "product" that is supposed to sell itself.

1 The cricket

That's right, it's cricket. There are those that are offended by the very thought that a cricket match can be wrapped up in three hours but that is OK, the concept was never going to appeal to everybody.

It has, however, appealed to that rare sub-group the cricket authorities had long abandoned - families.

The print media in particular yearns for the blue-sky days of yore when test cricket was in its primacy, forgetting that it was only the advent of one-day cricket, and the skills required to play that well - positive batting and athletic fielding - that made test cricket watchable to anybody other than purists.

WORLD T20 FIXTURES

(Pool play, all dates England time)

June 5, Group B

England vs Netherlands, Lord's

June 6, Group D

New Zealand vs Scotland, The Oval

June 6, Group C

Australia vs West Indies, The Oval

June 6, Group A

Bangladesh vs India, Trent Bridge

June 7, Group D

Scotland vs South Africa, The Oval

June 7, Group B

England vs Pakistan, The Oval

June 8, Group A

Bangladesh vs Ireland, Trent Bridge

June 8, Group C

Australia vs Sri Lanka, Trent Bridge

June 9, Group B

Netherlands vs Pakistan, Lord's

June 9, Group D

New Zealand vs South Africa, Lord's

June 10, Group C

Sri Lanka vs West Indies, Trent Bridge

June 10, Group A

India vs Ireland, Trent Bridge

- Herald on Sunday

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