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T20 World Cup has been truly global but how many tournaments is too many? | Mark Ramprakash
Cricket Sport

T20 World Cup has been truly global but how many tournaments is too many? | Mark Ramprakash

This has been a truly global T20 World Cup. With 20 teams involved for the first time it’s been much more inclusive than previous editions, and it’s been great to have fixtures you would not normally see, with some creditable performances from the associate countries – even in defeat.

Scotland showed a lot of power in their batting and variety in their bowling, coming so close to beating Australia after victories over Oman and Namibia and a rained-off contest with England in which they amassed an unbeaten 90-run opening stand. They leave the tournament with plenty of credit. Nepal lost to South Africa by just one run, Canada beat Ireland, a Test side, and USA have played some really convincing cricket to advance to the Super Eights.

I’ve been so impressed by the way the co-hosts have constructed their innings because they have power but they also knock the ball around and get themselves in. That’s in stark contrast to much of the batting I’ve been watching domestically in the T20 Blast which has been reckless and poorly executed.

The USA’s progress has somewhat broken the hold of the major nations; we’ve seen New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka go out, and Afghanistan progress emphatically. It’s been unfortunate that Uganda and Oman have had a few thumpings, but if you’re going to grow the game for the right reasons, you’ve just got to wear that.

I’ve also enjoyed the different flavour of the locations, moving from the three American grounds to the more storied venues of the Caribbean. It’s been very different to the Indian Premier League earlier this year and the huge scores we saw on pretty flat pitches. We’ve not had the traditional run-fests that, supposedly, we’re told that people want to see. In actual fact, we’ve seen some really thrilling, low-scoring games, where bowlers actually have been able to bowl in a fairly traditional way, with line and length hard to hit.

The eventual winners of this tournament will be the team that adapts best to the different conditions they face. India, for example, have played on some difficult and dangerous pitches in New York and if they progress to the semi-finals, they will play in Guyana which can be spin-friendly. The winning team won’t just go gung-ho and crush it everywhere.

As enjoyable as the tournament has been, it’s come less than a year since the last men’s 50-over World Cup, and a Champions Trophy will follow next year before another men’s T20 World Cup in 2026. The 20-over competition being every four years would sit right with me as I can sense some overkill at the moment. We need structure because if you have too much of it, the game becomes saturated and, far from growing it, you may switch off your existing fanbase.

The triumphant West Indies team with the trophy at Lord’s after the 1979 World Cup final.View image in fullscreen

From the 50-over World Cups that I’ve seen, I can remember the finals in ’79 – when Viv Richards hit a century at Lord’s – India’s victory in ’83 and Pakistan’s in ’92. These have been special events because there haven’t been too many of them. The worry at the moment is that every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to have a T20 World Cup or another global tournament.

It’s evident that finances seem to be at the forefront of these decisions, and the thinking at the top of the game is so much about making money from huge TV contracts. Well, how much is enough? Making money and looking after the finances of the game is hugely important but let’s try to do it while looking after the game itself.

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England have scraped through the group stage on net run-rate but there is still very little evidence to outline how they’re performing. Rain ruined their opening match, they were beaten comprehensively by Australia and took Oman apart in a 99-ball match before a 10-overs-a-side contest against Namibia. Harry Brook was particularly outstanding in the win over Namibia. He looks in form and is comfortable against any type of bowling.

The Jofra Archer-Reece Topley combination with the new ball England have opted for in their last couple of matches is their strongest. Topley can swing the ball and has the left-arm angle that we know can be so effective. Archer looks like he’s coming back to his best and is in that class where, if you’re facing England, you are forced to go after the other bowlers because he is so outstanding.

As a Barbadian, it’ll be a huge occasion for Archer when he plays in the Super Eights against West Indies, who had some fantastic support in their victory over New Zealand, inspired by an excellent half-century from Sherfane Rutherford on a tricky pitch. The vocal, fantastic, noisy and vibrant crowd at Trinidad was exactly what you want to see from the home support, just like it was when I toured the Caribbean in the 1990s. You’ve got your favourites like Australia and India, but West Indies are ones to watch out for as we enter the business end of the tournament.

Source: theguardian.com