Monday, September 24, 2007


With all that’s going on in the world at the moment, worrying about the place of Twenty-Twenty Cricket in the overall structure of the game, is probably not that sensible. Which probably explains, simply and logically, that I’m probably not that sensible then. Oh well, there you go.

I’ve sat and watched a fair few of the games in the World Twenty-Twenty Championships in South Africa over the last couple of weeks In spite of some seriously silly uniforms worn by the teams – Australia’s rather pervy skin tight pale grey suits topped by Motorway Cone Collector inspired yellow Bin Liners, which win my personal award here, I’ve seen some outrageously brilliant and exciting cricket.

But watching Pietersen blast 70 odd off Zimbabwe, watching India and Pakistan fight out a nail biting Tie (probably by far the best result to maintain any form of peace in that part of the world), watching my favourite team of the Tournament, Sri Lanka, attack the game with great skill and enjoyment, and then the other night watching poor old Stuart Broad being blasted for 6 Sixes by Yuvraj Singh, who ended up scoring 50 in an utterly ridiculous 12 balls – how can anyone say that lot isn’t either entertainment or sport. I thought it was all bloody fantastic.

And then, on Friday, I turned the TV on to see the other end of the spectrum playing out in front of me – Lancashire playing Surrey at the Oval on the third day of a Four day County match, where the outcome was to determine the winner of the 2007 County Championship. A perfect sporting definition of Chalk and Cheese.

But, what a great match that was. All the dynamics were different, the speed, the tempo, the strategy, no pyjamas for the teams, the crowd (or more precisely the lack of it) – everything was almost another world. And yet the drama unfolding was in some ways just as gripping, particularly because of the gradually twisting screw which was being applied to the tension on the players of both teams – the look on Dominic Cork’s face when he was out 24 runs short of victory, after one of the greatest run chases ever, told it all.

The star of the match however, was ex Ballroom Dancer turned Right hand batsman Mark Ramprakash. And what he had delivered over the first three days was simply a Batting Masterclass. Cricket works, at one level, on Statistics, so here goes. He scored 196 in Surrey’s First innings, and finished unbeaten in his second innings on 130. That lot meant he had averaged (yes, averaged) over 100 for the second season in succession. Only two people have ever matched that, and only one other (and it would have to have been Geoff Boycott, wouldn’t it?) has done it twice.


Ramprakash has had his go at playing for England, but his last appearance was 5 years ago. Since then, my newspaper faithfully reports, he has scored 11,000 runs and 44 centuries. I don’t know how many players manage to get to that sort of total in their entire careers let alone in the last 5 years since being dropped by England, but I imagine you don’t need to take both your shoes off to reach the answer.

If there’s a more effective batsman in this country playing today, please advise me who he is, and, to avoid a wasted few key depressions on your part, don’t say Kevin Pietersen.

The occult-like goings on of the England Test Selectors have been a lifelong mystery to me, and I suspect that’s not going to change. But Goodness knows what Ramprakash must think he’s got to do to be considered to play again for England. I suspect he must have given up all hope.

But watching him and Yuvraj Singh the previous night made you feel you’d seen the absolute pinnacles of both extremes of the game within 24 hours.

And you think Cricket is boring?



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