Tuesday, 7 April 2009

A random T20 rant

Apparently Andrew Strauss won't be in England's team for Cricket's 20-20 World Cup later in the year, having been left out of the thirty man preliminary squad for the event. This is interesting principally in that he is England's captain, so what does this say about the game as a whole?

One thing it says is just how 20-20 cricket is changing the shape of the game as a whole, increasingly requiring attacking, power-hitting players. Exactly how much this is the case is up for debate, since even quite defensive players can score at high speed with enough skill. Perhaps what it says instead is that people's perceptions of a player can have an immense effect on their careers. It is not just enough to be good, as Strauss undoubtedly is, or capable of attacking, as Strauss has shown in the recent one-day series against the West-Indies. Instead they must 'show' that they can do these things by hitting the big boundaries.

Another thing Strauss' exclusion suggests is that 20-20 is still seen as a separate form of the game in England. In the sense that it is a different format with its own tactical considerations, perhaps that is true, but the idea of specialist players of this one format strikes me as a little odd. Can they suddenly hit a ball where they couldn't before? Worse than that, Strauss' exclusion, while possibly intended as a message to strengthen the England side, in fact sends the message that the England and Wales Cricket Board is taking the tournament so 'seriously' that they can't even be bothered to make the proper captain play. It's ludicrous. The two up and coming teams in the Test rankings, South Africa and India, are exactly the two countries that have come to put the most into this most abreviated form of the game.

The weirdest thing about the whole situation is that Strauss apparently had an important role to play in his own deselection. Now, it might show maturity to be able to say 'no, I'm not actually good enough to do this', or it might be that he was genuinely in need of a rest, but what does it say about how seriously Andrew Strauss is taking 20-20 cricket? More to the point, with the likes of Kent's Robert Key being suggested as possible replacements from outside the existing team structure, how does he think this is going to contribute to a stable team environment?

No comments: