The Monday Masala

Morning all. I hope you had a good weekend. Did you enjoy the cricket?

I’m by no means an avid T20 fan but this year’s tournament has been pretty entertaining so far. There have been a few upsets – as tends to happen in the shortest for of the game – and most importantly of all England are still alive after their hugely satisfying win over the Proteas. We just need Australia to lose to Bangladesh later today (yeah, as if) and we’ll have smiles wider and fuller than a Chris Morris stock ball.

Let’s kick off this roundup by looking back at the Australia versus New Zealand game. The Kiwis just keep surprising everyone. They’ve played the two tournament favourites so far and beaten them both. The win against the Aussies was just as impressive as their victory over India, if only because it’s hard to back up an extraordinary performance with another solid display; big wins can be emotional and it’s hard to capture the same intensity.

The Kiwis did really well to defend their 142. The Aussies lost wickets at regular intervals and fell in a heap at the end. I’ve been really impressed with Ish Sodhi so far, and Mitchell Santner has also looked pretty good. Eyebrows were initially raised when Boult and Southee were left out of the side but New Zealand’s selectors have got things spot on. The only potential negative is that they might have peaked too early.

The biggest game of the weekend was undoubtedly the India versus Pakistan show. These contests are a bit like Froch versus Groves but with double the bitterness. I’m not remotely surprised that India won comfortably. Conditions obviously suited them and Pakistan’s batsmen were completely unable to handle Ashwin and Jadeja. It’s surprising that they only lost five wickets while limping to 118 in 18 overs, but that’s Pakistan for you.

Although India stumbled to 23-3 in reply, it was only ever going to take one good partnership to get them across the line. Once golden balls played himself in, the result was a formality really. And it’s a good thing too. The tournament might have been cancelled if India had lost.

Yesterday’s game saw the Cricket Boks back in action against the ‘plucky Afghans’. I put these words in inverted commas because international law apparently dictates that the word ‘plucky’ must appear in all sentences relating to Afghanistan’s cricket team.

A joint United Nations and ICC committee has been trying to reallocate the word ‘plucky’ ever since Bangladesh were stripped of the adjective a few years ago. It was thought at the time that ‘useless’ was a better term for the Tigers; after all, perennial losers by large margins should only be called ‘plucky’ for a limited period of time.

Afghanistan certainly lived up to their ‘plucky’ billing on Sunday: they played pretty well but lost. The difference in the end was a great innings from AB de Villiers and a typically fine spell by Imran Tahir. It looked like Afghanistan might pull off an upset when they raced to 60-1 off just 5 overs, but it was too good to last. They did manage to scrape up to 172 though. Plucky eh.

Before I sign off, I’ll quickly mention the Windies latest victory over Sri Lanka. It must be hard for Sri Lanka’s fans to see their spinners totally outgunned by Samuel Badree and Sulieman Benn. Their batting looked pretty flimsy too.

The West Indies look like a really strong team. They didn’t even need Chris Gayle in this match. Andre Fletcher took responsibility with a solid 84 from 64 balls. Their game against South Africa will be fascinating.

James Morgan


  • The Windies look the best balanced at the moment, they not only have a lot of depth to their batting but they have enough strength with their bowling to make them a real tough task to beat. New Zealand of the other sides could provide their most cogent opposition from the other group. The other sides all have significant weaknesses to be that confident about what they will do over all in my opinion.

  • I’m finding it pretty entertaining too. Being retired, it’s refreshing to have something watchable on TV during the day.

    Particularly impressed that Vandersay and Chameera didn’t find inexperience forcing them to bowl wides and long hops. Just wondering how England will cope with some of the extravagant spin we’ve seen now and then. Otherwise most of the matches are pretty unpredictable.

  • Couldn’t help wondering how Andre Fletcher felt during his excellent innings to have the crowd incessantly shouting ‘We want Gayle’. What effect do you all think the presence of ‘Mr Universe’ or whatever he called himself the other day has on the rest of the team?

  • A few points about the organisation of the tournament:

    1) England’s group may well come down to NRR (if SA beat WI). SA will know their target in their last game because the final Pool matches are not scheduled simultaneously. England will have played their last Pool game two days before SA play SL.
    2) Four consecutive matches have been won by teams batting second. In the last T20I WC in Bangladesh, nine of the eleven evening games were won by teams batting second. I usually dislike moaning about the toss – but is this degree of unfairness acceptable?
    3) Some English pundits (like Michael Vaughan) have been suggesting certain Afghanistan players should be signed up by county cricket. ECB rules explicitly forbid players outside of ICC full members from being given work visas to play county cricket as overseas’ players (players from EU countries aren’t covered, hence Irish or Dutch players can play).

    England are due to play the last two Pool games in Delhi. I asked Indian writers on the Guardian thread what conditions could be expected. They said none of them knew what the pitch would be like! Delhi has held no matches in this tournament so far and never held a T20I.

    • Hi Simon, I forgot to get back to you on point 1) on BOC. I take your point entirely and even football has syncronised final group games in big tournaments and has done so when West Germany and Austria declared a non-aggression pact against each other in 1982.

      I’m actually surprised that they have spread out the games so much as it could easily be a quicker and smarter tournament.

      2) It surprises me that games are so late in the evening. The 2:30 GMT starts equate to 8:00 Indian Standard time in the evening which is pretty late. Surely they could have had the start times a fair bit earlier in the evening and that would have done something to even out this.

      3) I think some of the Afghanis already play in the Pakistani t20 competition and you’d have thought there would be an opportunity for them to further get a chance in other t20 tournaments.

      With regards to the games at Delhi surely perhaps a gander at the Delhi Daredevils record may give some insight. The pundits made a play of mentioning that a score in the low 180s was seen as a par score for Mumbai with the Mumbai Indians having played there for a few years. Here’s what I’ve found regarding average scores. Suggests average score is 158.

  • Just seen that the Aussies crushed past Bangladesh in the end. Adam Zampa was the star. The young spinners are really stealing the show in this tournament.

  • I think the scheduling is to include the women’s tournament, so there are two games every day but some days thats 1 ladies & 1 men’s.
    Of course it could be extended to 3 games a day.

    As regards the toss, it does suit certain teams to chase ( England being one) and others to defend (Perth Scorchers spring to mind) but if conditions deem that by bowling second you are at an advantage they will need to level it out somehow. But how?

    • As I suggested, it would make sense to have earlier start times as they seem to start a lot of evening games at 8pm Indian time which is rather late. Perhaps this is to cater for the Indian tv viewing market and the time of maximum viewing there but even so it mucks up the end product.

  • Personally I have found this 2020 WC to not be that great, because the quality of bowling is really poor. SPinners are doing well because it’s India and because modern players are terrible at playing spin.

    It is light entertainment which is what this format is all about I suppose and far better than watching the mrs’s endless crap on tv in the evenings but it’s hardly inspiring.

    Very worried about everyone talking up how 2020 will save cricket, from the people I talk too.. once players reach about 20 they start to dislike 2020 because so few in a team actually get a game and it’s all slog slog slog.

    • It’s interesting what you say about so few players actually getting a game in T20. It’s easy enough to give people a bowl but only the top 5 usually get a decent bat.

      I started playing for my son’s school’s staff and fathers’ team last summer but I only really got to bat once. I’ve always been an opener, and the team already had an established opening partnership when I joined, so I was often thrown in at number 8 to face about 3 balls …. something I’m really not suited to. I might not play this year for that very reason.

      If you’re content to simply field for 20 overs, face a couple of balls if you’re lucky, and maybe bowl an over or two, then I can see people enjoying T20 cricket. However, I don’t really see a role for me in this format (I’m more of a Bell than a Pietersen) so my only really incentive to play is the social side of things – a bit tricky when you’ve got a very young family.

      • People will be quick to shout it down, usually because there are 2-3 who get to do everything in their team at the cost of others in the name of being ‘competitive’.

        What is the answer at the amateur level?? 2020 is potentially a good vehicle for expanding the game, however who the hell wants to turn up for a few balls or 2 overs and watch the same few do everything…

        It’s the same but not quite as bad saturdays as the games currently are longer but for how long??

        I don’t think anyone has an answer because you are either one of the few in your team who gets a good game or you are one of the 2-3 who are simply dragged along, abused to make the numbers up and then people complain why those quit, leave, don’t play regularly etc

        • “What’s the answer at the amateur level ?”

          Require one batter to retire every three/four (?) overs if a wicket hasn’t fallen ?

          After all, we limit the number of overs a bowler can bowl.

      • I’m genuinely curious. You play amateur T20 but don’t play retire at 25? What team is this? I’ve never heard of a team doing that before. I must play 20 games of T20 a year and I’ve yet to encounter a team who didn’t retire their batsmen at 25 to ensure that everyone gets a go.

        Most amateur T20 teams bowl at least 6-7 different bowlers and bat all the down the order.

        I don’t slog either- its not my game – but I generally come near the top of the averages and can comfortably score at 8-10 an over simply through playing orthodox cricket shots and running aggressively.

        • It’s retire at 50 in LMS. It is also retire at 50 in the other competition that I play. As I say LMS is 8 a side too so there is plenty of scope for all 8 batsmen to get a hit, especially so with my team. We also tend to use 5-6 bowlers too.

          • There are some changes I would make to LMS to improve it. I’d bowl from both ends. I’d stick with 6 balls per over. I’d go up to 11 players per team (less time fetching the ball from the bushes). I’d get rid of the obligatory over-priced coloured kits. I’d get rid of the ridiculous double play rule that everyone hates, and the even stupider last man stands rule, which allows one ringer to dominate the entire game and spoil it for everyone else. I’d get rid of the ridiculously punitive laws on extras that puts off new players from having a go at bowling.

            I wouldn’t pay a franchise fee, and I’d call the sport “cricket”, and let anyone who wants to play it, play it without trying to make a quick buck. Finally, I’d tell LMS to go fuck themselves and stop trying to screw amateur cricketers out of money. Greedy shysters like them are one of the reasons cricket is struggling in this country.

  • I must admit, after the first couple of years of t20 I I thought of it as nothing more than a little light entertainment, and when I go and watch the pros play it in the t20 blast, that is exactly how I see it. Just an opportunity to relax after work and take in some cricket while having a beer or two.

    However as a cricketing participant (well just about!), I have enjoyed my after work games in the summer evenings, either in a 16 over league I play with my club, or the Last Man Stands competition, which is run right around the country (I play at a low standard though). If anything I’ve found it has enhanced my enjoyment of playing as both forms happen to be 8 a side and everyone tends to bat and bowl. Perhaps it should have remained a club cricketer’s pastime, but that genie has long since been out of the bottle.

    • is LMS really any sort of answer?? It’s yet another slogathon so if you are not a hitter, more of a technical player then LMS will appeal to you about as much as standing on a bed of nails.

      LMS Is fine for people who enjoy 2020 or are naturally guys who just mash a ball, pretty much useless for anyone wanting to be a bit more technical.

      Sadly, there isn’t an answer, I doubt LMS will grow that much in the grand scheme of things, same as indoor cricket, 2020 etc. I Know in my area LMS Isn’t even about, indoor is small, 2020 is dying etc. It won’t die out as there are always die hards but for the casuals and technical players who are being lost to the game.

      • Some of the more serious technically gifted players chose not to play it because they simply prefer the time to get in. I am no slogger by any means, I was originally a fast bowler who was a defensive no.11, but in my dotage I’m someone who has worked out his scoring areas, and developed enough shots to gain a decent strike rate and bowls some just about ok spin to do a decent role in that form of the game at the level I play. For your information I’m from London and we aren’t short of teams/players, you get your fair share of Southern Hemisphere enthusiasts as well as the Asian community. It is just people who like cricket who enjoy the opportunity to play the game post work and for some us have a beer afterwards. I actually think it is a good game to play for the cricketing casual, quite frankly mid-week short form cricket helped get me back into playing again after a fair hiatus. I will point out that for watching cricket, I always was, am and always will be a test match man, although I am somewhat disillusioned about the future of the test game.

        • too many times in 2020/indoor cricket I’ve seen lads wander in so late they can’t realistically achieve anything useful. THey are either forced to slog and so potentially be out first ball and get no game at all or bat ‘properly’ and in doing so knowingly lose the game (and usually getting volleys of abuse from the oppos for not ‘going for it’.)

          I know in a few indoor games I’ve wandered in needing way to many to make it remotely possible so I just ‘have a net’.. umpiores get annoyed, oppos get annoyed and it ruins the game because I’m achieving nothing other than not wasting my money/time slogging out. I just think ‘I’ve paid my money, taken my time to turn up.. why should I give my wicket away’

          sadly, that mentality is not required in these games and so only a few get a game, the rest are purely there to make up numbers.

        • hence why these short form games will never really be that popular. TOo many people even in these games are being forced to give it away so a few ‘stars’ get to do the best bits.

          EVEn though it happens in longer formats too.. at least there is usually more scope for people getting a game (although, I accept that there needs to be some work in saturday cricket to balance out sides so 11 people actually get a constructive game.. still usually 2-3 that are basically being asked to turn up and field generally)

          • You say they will never really be that popular… but they are already by far the most popular format for amateur cricket.

            40/45/50 over cricket is played on Saturdays. But 20 over cricket is played on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays….

            There are 30+ cricket grounds with 5 miles of me, and they’re all booked up every weekday evening from May to August.

            People love T20 cricket – they just can’t get enough of it. If I wasn’t so busy coaching, I could easily play a T20 game every night of the week.

            • I’ll do the maths around gloustercrap but I suspect it’s more grounds and less 2020. I can only assume you live in a city or something.

              2020 around here anyway hasn’t grown but is actually shrinking. less teams playing.

              There are still afair few ‘casual’ games not in any leagues etc and they are good fun when ringers are not used

              THere is a place for 2020 and I’d never say there isn’t but it’s not the answer to amateur crickets decline.

            • plus, I assume you are talking about kids to adults, to disabled to womens games.. if you just take one (say normal mens cricket).. I wonder if your stats about it growing and being the most popular is valid

              oh, and remember that one player cna play different days so isn’t counted as 3 separate players unlike saturday where you can only play once

              • I was only talking about men’s cricket. T20 is the most popular format of the game by a factor of 2-3. Probably 75% of men’s adult cricket matches played in the UK are T20s – and this has been the case for decades.

                Kids cricket is something different – at club level that is exclusively T20, until you get down to U11s where they play 8-aside pairs cricket.

      • LMS seems like an utterly dreadful concept to me. Its like cricket, but with unwelcome and unnecessary rule changes, and you have to pay for the privilege of playing it.

        Gimmicky, non-inclusive, expensive, commercially driven, and susceptible to being easily dominated by a handful of ringers – It seems to be everything that amateur cricket shouldn’t be.

        • tbh, probably one of the few times I’ll agree with AB. LMS to me is a awful game. I’m not even going to call it cricket. PLus, as mentioned.. not everyone gets a good game and it’s easily dominated by a ringer. Seems almost as poor as indoor cricket really

  • I’m creating a game and it is only in the ‘off the top of my head’ stage of development so still a week or two before you see it at a ground near you but…
    22 overs a side.
    Each team identifies four batsman, three all rounders, one w/k and three bowlers.
    The batsman must score at a given rate (decided on pitch conditions/average ground scores/shake of a dice but must not exceed 2.5 runs an over.
    The a/r and w/k can score normally but must not exceed 3 runs an over.
    The bowlers score runs by surviving; hit a four or, perish the thought a six and you’re yellow carded.
    If the batsman score at above the given rate they’re yellow carded.
    If the batting side want to open with their bowlers to blunt the new ball they can… think Bradman, sticky wicket, Melbourne Jan 1937.
    Sticky wickets are to be encouraged. If too sticky, both teams get a second innings.
    Yellow cards are sin bin-able for two overs.
    If you’re not out at the end of your allotted overs you can come back later in the innings if wickets have fallen.
    I think that covers everything, it’s working title is ‘cricket for all, not just batsman’ or ‘a little slice of Test cricket in shortened format for all after tea every Wednesday’.
    Each side provides an umpire.
    In the event of an umpire being yellow carded… hmm… I haven’t thought this through…

  • A stat I’ve just seen….11 matches, 10 times the team winning the toss has won the game.
    The one that didn’t. Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka. I’ve no idea as to if this is a one off or if this is a pattern in most T20 tournaments.

    • Clearly the win the toss, win the game strategy isn’t looking so good in the current game. That said, if England can somehow find a way of batting the 20 overs and have a good couple of overs somewhere, maybe they can post 130+. Big ask though.

      • Are people finally realising that this team is made up of hot and cold players.. Stokes has to be one of the most over hyped players england have had.. a big score and suddenly he’s a world class all rounder!!

        This game is amusing. I expect Afg to lose because they aren’t great but still, the fact england much vaunted batting is failing so well is amusing.

        still, it’s only hit and giggle so it’s just fun.. irrelevant really whether england win or lose.

        • Oh I certainly think England are more than a bit hot and cold in this format. The best players we have are Root, a proper batsman and Buttler, who hasn’t actually fired properly yet in t20s for a man of his obvious talent.

          Stokes is indeed not to good in short form cricket. His batting in even domestic limited overs isn’t all that. He often appears to lose his shape trying to whack the ball too hard rather than use his timing, like he has done in test cricket at times. I said that a 130 or so score might see England wriggle out of it. then again us losing to an associate would be typical.

          • Roy – hot and cold
            Hales – hot and cold
            Root – generally plays proper cricket
            Morgan – hot and cold
            Buttler – hot and cold
            Ali – not really good enough
            willey – is he really upto genuine international class?
            Rashid – decent

            I’d say the team is pretty hot and cold

            • I’m sort of feeling quite smug, only because my instinct was moderately right. I reckoned that a 130+ score would possibly be a bit too much for the Afghans, it appears I was right!

              Ps, re Root the history of world t20s is that many of the best batsmen happen to be high quality test players rather than the t20 specialists. The only two batsmen I can think of who did well who weren’t necessarily high class test players were Yuvraj and Gayle and even Gayle of course had a decent test record. T20 specialists such as Pollard (who has missed these last two world t20s) have actually done rather poorly.

      • umpire now doing his best for england.. ALi stone dead.. looked dead too.. not sure why it wasn’t given


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