What’s the point of Super Eights?

It’s all been fairly entertaining stuff so far, then. Every major tournament needs a victory for the host nation, a close finish and an upset in its first week, and the World Twenty20 has delivered all of them four days ahead of schedule. Sixes have been hit, dances have been danced and grounds have generally been full enough for the local TV directors not to have to focus on the same group of fans for a whole match.

Still, it wouldn’t be an ICC event if you couldn’t complain about the format. And although this tournament is positively size zero in comparison to the World Cup, the organisers again seem worryingly keen to make sure absolutely everybody plays absolutely everybody. It will take twelve matches to reduce twelve teams to eight, and another twelve to reduce the eight to four. What’s wrong with quarter-finals? Most other sports seem to have them, and they work a treat.

Super Eights, while snappily-named and sound in theory, take all the sting out of a major tournament. At the last World Cup, around a third of Super Eight games, at a conservative estimate, were dead. That should reduce this time as a result of the lower number of matches played, but the ICC should take a long hard look at the Super Eights format. Keeping the games meaningful is surely more important than making sure India and Pakistan meet every time.

Zimbabwe beat Australia- again!

Zimbabwe beat Australia the first time that they met in a World Cup match, back in 1983. In 2007, they’ve repeated the dose by beating Australia in their first Twenty-20 World Cup match. I know that the players aren’t taking it too seriously, but I didn’t know they were taking it THAT unseriously. Mind you, Zimbabwe probably played very well too. (I didn’t see the game)

I must be getting old

I remember back in the day when going at 5 runs an over was a fair rate of knots. In this brave new world of Twenty-20, even 10 an over isn’t always enough, as the West Indies found out this morning. Pity Chris Gayle, who scored the first ever International century in this form of the game, 117 off 57, and still ended up on the losing side.

A hell of a way to make a living, being a bowler in this day and age.

Here’s hoping South Africa can put on a decent show

We are two days out from a ‘brave new world’, with the Twenty20 World Cup about to start in South Africa. I must confess to having mixed feelings, at best, about this form of the game. It certainly can be entertaining, but it is a form of cricket that seems to be fundamentally slanted in favour of the batsmen, leading to ‘slogathons’, rather than an even contest between bat and ball.

But my own preferences are neither here nor there. It seems to me that for the sake of cricket generally, this tournament needs to be successful. 2007 so far has not been a cricketing year to get enthused about; there has been very little Test cricket so far, and the 50 over World Cup was such a let down that it damaged rather then enhanced the game. The English summer failed to reach memorable heights either, with jelly beans rather then batting or bowling providing the most talked about incident.

So it is incumbent on South Africa to put on a good show to boost the morale of cricket lovers. Having the tournament being won by a rank outsider, rather then Australia, would also help this cause. But at the very least, happy cricketers playing exciting cricket in front of large crowds is certainly a step in the right direction. The good news on that score is that the South African authorities seem to have taken on board the lessons to be learned from the West Indies tournament.

Ponting in doubt for the Twenty20 World Cup

Ricky Ponting has missed the flight to South Africa for the Twenty20 World Cup, due to “private family reasons”. I certainly hope that he can still make the tournament, as he’s one of the great sights in world cricket in full flight, even for a euphemerial event such as this.

Just a bit of hit and giggle, or is it more?

Andrew Symonds likes Twenty20 for the fun, but he is worried it might be taken too seriously.

One of the game’s most exciting batsmen, Symonds takes a laid-back approach to Twenty20, much like his autograph signing session at Brisbane’s Ekka yesterday – he turned up with bare feet.

“It’s a game of fun for me,” Symonds, 32, said. “But it looks like it’s heading down the serious route, unfortunately.”

The Australian selectors have named a full-strength line-up for the inaugural tournament, which begins in South Africa on September 11. However, Symonds says the players are yet to discuss their approach for the championship.

“Playing the (Twenty20) games in the past, the captain doesn’t mind if you interact with the kids in the crowd and muck around a bit, but now I don’t know if that’s going to be the case. I think it may end up heading down that serious road,” he said. “I think in the end pride will take over and it will end up being a full-blown battle.”

30 years ago, Australia’s cricketers had a similar attitude to the 50 over game. It will be interesting to see how attitudes evolve over time.