Friday, January 14, 2011

Aust. Vs Eng T20 Series 1-1

The T20 series between Australia and England has been and gone, 1-1. England breaking a record for most consecutive wins, Australia breaking a drought of 5 games. Both games showed the beauty in this smaller format of the game, and if you weren’t a convert over these two nights then you never will be.

The games had everything, great batting, diving in the field, fast balls and flying stumps, to slower balls confusing batsmen. All finished with a nail biting last ball gasp that had the crowds up and down in their seats, at the spectacle before them. I must admit I wasn’t a huge fan of this format when released, and the vision of watching balls fly over fences soon lost the dazzle it once had, as I felt sorry for the bowler. Like all formats of cricket it has evolved, with bowlers becoming smarter and spin starting to become a factor in towards the close of games. Batsman have shown a respect to the bowling instead of throwing wickets away, and reverse sweeps, paddle shots are as common nudging and guiding balls to third man.

England has shown over its past 8 victories that fielding, and bowling to that field is just as important as scoring runs. In Adelaide they strangled Australia with Yorkers and change of pace bowling from Shahzad taking no wickets but with an economy rate of 6.25 going for only 25 runs in his 4 over’s. Yardy’s (4-0-28-2) spinning darts and various pace had the Australians prodding rather than swinging at every delivery. Ian Bell has shown an attacking influence from the first ball in this series and Davies has proved a capable replacement for Kieswetter in the keeper/batsman position. I have been most impressed with Eoin Morgan the Irishman is always pushing his name forward for test selection with his middle order stability to any innings regardless of format, and with him still at the crease you felt England were always a chance to win.

Shane Watson was made for this format, the burley Queenslander having watched his hometown sink in Ipswich came out under the bright lights of Adelaide and took hold of the bowling early dispatching 9 boundaries in his 59, and then when all hope seemed gone in the Australian field, he dragged the team to the finish line with 4-0-15-4 to an almost victory at the death. And of course in any great production we must have the unlikely hero. In Adelaide it was the man Collingwood didn’t know in Woakes who not only took the prize scalp of the Australian Captain, but also scored the winning run in a 19 not out performance. In Melbourne it was the much talked Aaron Finch, the nuggety Victorian gaining praise from more than Bill Lawry for his grunting 53 from 34.

The biggest difference in the sides performances was based around the middle over’s of these matches. England while losing wickets did not slow the run rate, and were able to find the boundary and work 2’s and 3’s where possible. Australia on the other hand got bogged down fending off a change of pace and looking for the big shot, rather than working the strike ball by ball.

Both these matches were perfect examples of top class T20. The recent saturation of this format has made many games very similar in approach and results. With the run rate getting out of hand and the finishes determined prior to the last ball. The last two nights has seen two quality sets of players lock horns in a ball by ball battle under lights that has been of the highest quality. While too much can be a good thing with T20, matches like these better serve the product than endless professional club sides slapping each other around.

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