A Stroke with No Name

Just over a week into the World Twenty20 (it seems more like about three, simply because of the number of matches that have been played, rather than their inferior quality), certain themes are emerging.

Batting built on muscular power, but also, on occasion, on timing and innovation. While others have used it sparingly, Tillekeratne Dilshan has made an art out of the backward flick over the keeper's head, a stoke which, as yet, has no name.

Bowling founded on old-fashioned principles - the straightness and reliability of Umar Gul - but also the variety and disguise of Ajantha Mendis.

Fielding which, on the ground, has sometimes appeared vulnerable under pressure (aren't we all?), but, with the ball in the air, has often touched rare heights. In the last week alone we've seen utterly superb catches from Kyle Coetzer, David Warner, Lendl Simmons, and probably the best of all yesterday from good old Shahid Afridi.

The crowds have been brilliant - large, vibrant, noisy and partisan.

Heading into the competition's final week, South Africa look favourites. Their batting has an air of solidity about it which you feel that their main rivals, Sri Lanka, can't quite match, as well as fielding that marries reliability and brilliance, and bowling which has just enough of what's required in all areas. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have Murali and Mendis, who on his day could run through anyone, although he only has four overs in which to do it.

India and Pakistan - especially after yesterday - can't be discounted. England, New Zealand and Ireland probably can, leaving West Indies as the team which nobody can be sure about. Their wonderful victory over India on Friday night, inspired by the rare talent and competitive energy of the islands' greatest recent product, Dwayne Bravo, showed what they're capable of. The suspicion is that if neither Gayle nor Bravo fires in a big game the rest will be left with too much to do and that, when the pressure is on, their fielding simply won't hold together.

It's been great so far. The slightly worrying thing, perhaps, is that this feels like the future, and Test cricket, even between England and Australia, is going to appear very slow by comparison when it returns next month, although probably none the worse for that.

The game's future can wait for another day. England and India do battle at Lord's this afternoon at 5.30 and I'll be watching.

No comments:

Subscribe in a reader