Colin E. H. Croft
Having been extremely fortunate to have been directly involved in the television coverage of ICC World T-20 2014, I had a close-up, ring-side seat of the competition and could say with great certainty that it has been the most enjoyable tournament that I have ever covered, surpassing even ICC World Cups 1999 and 2007 by a very long way.
ICC WT-20 2014 served up surprises, excitement, desperate disappointments and wonderful winners.
No-one is more pleased than me that if West Indies could not win, then Sri Lanka deserves that accolade.
Captain Arjuna Ranatunga surprised all with Sri Lankan tactical innovation, and wonderful batting from Sanath Jayasuriya, Roshan Mohanama, Romesh Kaluwitharana and Aravinda Da Silva, with bowling brilliance from Chaminda Vaas, Kumar Dhamasena and Muttiah Muralitheran, to win ICC World Cup 1996.
Few expected it to take 18 more years for “The Lankan Lions” to win another world competition.
Because they lost so many world finals after that, Sri Lanka has been considered the perennial cricketing bridesmaids.
Indeed, Sri Lanka’s most despondent, desperate, disappointing moment must have been when West Indies, whom fortune did favour back then too, beat them at ICC WT-20 2012, at home in Colombo.
Many Lankan tears flowed then!
Tears have turned to massive smiles for Sri Lanka and especially Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, former team captains, professional cricketers who are always so friendly and communicative.
Sangakkara, Sri Lanka’s veteran wicket-keeper-batsman and a qualified lawyer, with his team-mate and co-owner of a restaurant in Colombo, stylish batsman Jayawardene, who has just become a father for the first time, must fully celebrate this deserved success in their last T-20 international for Sri Lanka.
The biggest surprise must have been Netherlands’ blitz on Ireland to reach Super 10’s of the competition.
Ireland had looked almost unbeatable for Associate teams, but “Orange Brigade” made minced meat of “Green Machine”, allowing the Dutch guys to advance to the “big boys” segment.
Netherlands even nearly pulled off the upset of the tournament too, just missing out on beating “big gun” South Africa, the Dutch just losing by two runs, probably by their lack of winning experiences.
The best games of the tournament were West Indies v Australia, Sri Lanka v England and New Zealand v South Africa, games that all had severe agro, with no quarter asked, or given, by any of these teams.
Each of these three games realized over 350 runs in 40 total overs, an incredible production rate, and providing so much enjoyment for all, but, maybe disappointingly, no team managed 200 in the Super 10’s.
Two individual batting innings stood out for me.
No. 1 was Virat Kohli’s masterful, mature, measured 72 not out, only 44 deliveries, as India destroyed South Africa in semi-final No. 2.
England’s Alex Hales’ 116 no, as his team blew Sri Lanka out of the water, must have given the Lankans the scare of their cricketing lives.
The pitch at Chittagong was always a bit of a lottery, as too much depended on which team won the toss and almost always batted second.
The pitch at Mirpur, Dhaka was as good as T-20 pitches can be, with bounce, carry, pace and spin producing magnificent cricket. Bangladesh as country hosts did excellently!
So, what is next in world competitions for beaten but not disgraced 2012 defending champions West Indies, who were very tentative against India and maybe unlucky, due to rain and hail, against Sri Lanka?
ICC World Cup 2015 – 50 overs version – the blue ribbon event for International Cricket Council, is just around the proverbial cricketing cow corner, scheduled from February 14 to March 29, 2015, in Australia and New Zealand.
West Indies Head Coach Ottis Gibson has notified that they are already planning for that event, but if I were a young but budding cricketer now, not yet having made my name “big” in people’s minds, or on the cricket fields of the Caribbean, then I would focus on ICC WT-20 2016, even ICC World Cup 2019.
Whatever West Indies do, they must not make the same blunders that they made for Bangladesh 2014.
Here is one such blunder. Sheldon Cottrell, Jamaica’s handy left-arm pacer, was a passenger on this tour. He should never have been selected at all. A World T-20 competition is no place for “getting experience.”
As was seen in Sri Lanka’s team, real veterans, including leg-spinner Rangana Herath, came through to win overall. Sri Lanka’s captain, Dinesh Chandimal, even effectively dropped himself so his team could win!
Cottrell’s place should have been given to either of West Indies recognized left-arm spinners Suilleiman Benn, Nakita Miller or Verasammy Permaul, given conditions that we all knew would have prevailed in Bangladesh.
Even the world’s best fast bowler, Dale Steyn of South Africa, struggled somewhat there!
Whichever of these spinners was selected could have formed a useful combination with leg-spinner Samuel Badree and mystery-spinner Sunil Narine, for better results, as India’s Ravendra Jadeja did with Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Misra.
Remember SL’s SLA Herath incredible 3.3-2-3-5 spell?
Anyway, there is much to ponder for next year and 2016 too. Enjoy!
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