Telegraph chief cricket writer Scyld Berry and colleague Tim Wigmore make some interesting points about the evolution of T20 cricket, the state of the gripping India England series ahead of Saturday’s day-night decider and the contrast in fortunes between two batting styles’ effectiveness on the pitches found in the hot-house of the world game.

Scyld points to how the game in your modern-day top-level T20 match has slowed since the days of the format’s inception (in the 2003 county season) when the 80-minute mark required the last over to be delivered. The 3-hour T20 match was the norm. In the current India England series it is taking 2 hours to get through each innings.

Sussex were the first county to install floodlights but everywhere else in county cricket a T20 match was geared to start after the typical work day had finished and end before the long English summer evenings had seeped into dusk. Of course, in those days there were no interruptions by third umpires taking long minutes to adjudicate just one contentious dismissal.

 

Off-cutter kingpin Shardul Thakur congratulated by Rohit Sharma.

 

Scyld points out that in blazing floodlit India there is no rush in the evenings, which present the most amenable time of the day to be outside. And possibly the only folk fretting about how late the match is going to end are parents anxious to get the kids asleep and away from the TV before the strike of the midnight hour.

And the lengthening duration of the T20 innings is plays right into the palm of the TV broadcaster’s hand; the longer the game the more TV ad breaks.

There are few who can put words to better use than Scyld: “Bring on the dew, bring out the towels! Slow the game down even more – and as long as there is a decent climax, does anybody – apart from anxious parents and those with first-edition [news] deadlines – really care?”

 

Jofra Archer bat-smash.

 

England’s plethora of left-handers (4 of the top 7) are being undone by the India attack’s judicious employment of the off-cutter on relatively slow pitches, while the fast-flowing bounty of runs being scored by the agile and wristy, shorter of stature, quick hands-and-feet inventiveness of the home batters (Suryakumar Yadav, man of the match on debut) is trumping the fortunes of the “stand tall and play straight” technocrats like Dawid Malan and KL Rahul.

Yadav, Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer added 124 in 72 balls in a middle-overs case study that contributed much to the 8-run win in Ahmedabad and the 2-2 squaring of the series, Jofra Archer’s late frenzy that included breaking his bat notwithstanding.

A record of just 77 series runs off 80 balls at the top of the innings (when quite often just 2 fielders have been allowed out of the ring) is putting Dawid Malan’s England place in doubt as the T20 World Cup looms in India later this year.

 

Dawid Malan.

 

Dawid Johannes Malan is the son of Dawid J. Malan, who played four first-class matches for Northerns and WP. Born in England and brought up in the Paarl, matriculating at Boys’ High, Dawid junior made his first-class debut for Boland fresh out of school, followed by a permanent move to England and the launch of what has been a decade-plus career on the county circuit as well as noted success for the national team.

A tall (6-foot) left-hander with an orthodox batting style capable of booming straight drives, Dawid is finding the Indian pitches less rewarding than the pacy, hard tracks that have greater affinity with his technique.

England superstar all-rounder Ben Stokes told Telegraph man-on-tour Wigmore that Saturday’s series decider took on the dimensions of a precursor to a possible T20 World Cup final between the world’s number 1 and 2 sides.

 

The spectacular Surayakumar Yadav.

 

“It is a final, because if we don’t win then we lose the series. The more situations we get put into when we’ve got pressure on us and we keep prevailing that’s going to do us the world of good – especially with a T20 World Cup coming up. These are all great learning experiences.

“I hope that everyone is still asking questions of themselves. I hope that there is more work to do because that’s how you get better as you’re always looking to improve.”

 

The first 2 T20s had bumper crowds of 67 000 in Ahmedabad but Covid spikes meant the last 3 are playing out in an empty stadium.

 

Sources: The Telegraph, AP, PA, Reuters, Getty, Rex

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