65 runs from 17 balls; and all of it on the box
The bish, bash, bosh of the Indian Premier League is not everyone’s cup of darjeeling. It is frequently not quite as exciting as its supporters like to suggest: games are often not close contests.
However, there are occasions when even the most sceptical viewer can surely understand the IPL’s appeal. James Faulkner and Steven Smith’s fearless pursuit of sixty-five runs from the last four overs for Rajasthan Royals against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday was so clinical that they only needed 17 of the available 24 balls. That is some hitting.
Not only was the batting of the Royals’ Australian pair amazing, it was also accessible to a wide audience on ITV4. The snapping up of IPL broadcasting rights by ITV was a brilliant move. For those who wonder whether T20 cricket will one day push test cricket to the margins in this country, a glance at the television listings for live, free-to-air matches might provide a clue.
Sky blue England still need a sunnier outlook
A new era for England began in soggy Aberdeen last week. The city might in due course become a battleground for north sea oil rights, should Scotland gain independence, but on Friday it was simply a battle to get a game on.
England’s comfortable victory in a shortened match hardly gave many clues to the future. The old hands did most of the donkey work. Jimmy Anderson made a welcome return, as did a sky blue kit that somehow has more of an essence of England than skin-tight orange.
The team still need to put more effort into showing us that they’re enjoying themselves, however. While apparently expressing gladness that proceedings had got underway, Alastair Cook sounded almost grudging about the match taking place in conditions that were 'some of the worst I have played in’? If you're going to welcome the efforts of the groundstaff please convince us that you mean it!
Faith in youth at The Oval
Last week I suggested that Surrey expected immediate promotion under Graeme Smith’s captaincy. In fact, says chairman Richard Thompson, the club is prepared to play the long game, trusting in youth to build lasting success.
Matt Dunn's promisingly agressive bowling caught the Roller's eye last season and he has got off to a flyer this year: 18 wickets at 24.33 so far. Thompson points out that there are many others too – Ansari, Sibley, Roy, Curran to name a few – who will form the backbone of Surrey's future.
This faith in young players, all of who will benefit from playing under Smith, is striking. If Surrey were the cricketing Manchester United at the turn of the century, their current crop of youngsters might be modern day rivals to “Fergie’s Fledglings” of the ‘90s. “Thompson’s Tots”, or “Smithy’s Brood” perhaps.
What has become of the ten-wicket haul?
A ten-wicket match haul remains a special achievement for any bowler. Yet it is notable that in the first-class season so far there has been just one (by old-hand Jimmy Anderson), despite the fact that five-fors within single innings have been abundant – forty-three so far across the board (including thirty-seven in the Championship). Rain will have played a part by shortening some matches, of course, meaning that opportunities to bowl in two innings have been reduced.
Nonetheless, last season there were twelve ten-wicket match performances throughout the course of the County Championship and a grand total of 130 single-innings fifers. Time will tell whether 2014 eventually proves that bowlers are able to produce the goods across the full duration of a game as frequently as last year. Spinners will obviously come into their own later in the summer, for instance.
Or is this another sign of the drift towards short attention spans, a collapse of stamina during the longer forms of the game?