Despite the alterations in format, the primary focus for both Sri Lanka and South Africa will remain on the 50-over World Cup. The Proteas selected the same team for the first T20 International as they did for the ODI. Linda Zondi, the national selector, stated that Cricket South Africa will regard the game as yet another stepping stone to complete their Vision 2019 campaign. This is essentially their grand plan for success at the World Cup.
Faf du Plessis, the captain of the South African cricket team, stated that he is 99.9% sure regarding the team he will take with him to the cricket tournament in England. All the changing and chopping of South Africa throughout a generally prosperous and long home summer has provided the team with a decent idea of which player does what. The Proteas have managed to regain confidence and form during the ODI’s. Although their focus is somewhere else, their T20 International outfit will be complicated to defeat.
Sri Lanka seemed to have retreated since their rare victory that managed to open the tour. The glory and triumph of their remarkable Test series look like a distant memory following their 5-0 win in the ODI’s. The team is also currently facing yet another crisis when it comes to coaching. Chandika Hathurusingha has been requested to return to Sri Lanka, while Steve Rixon, the fielding coach, will fill in to act as the head coach during the T20 Internationals.
Sri Lanka has been unable to succeed in one-day cricket, and they need to cover plenty of ground to make up for it during the 20-over format successfully. Sri Lanka is currently ranked 9th in the 20-over format, placing them below Afghanistan. They only managed to win 6 out of the past 20 matches when it comes to T20Is. Before they can truly focus on the World Cup, they will need to get their squad in order.
Conditions and Pitch
Summer is coming to an end in South Africa. However, the weather should be beautiful in Cape Town during the tournament. The surface at Newlands is usually on the slow side. However, before the final day of the 5th ODI, fast bowlers from Sri Lanka and South Africa enjoyed both bounce and pace so that anything can happen this time around too. The last time a T20I was played at Newlands was when South Africa faced Pakistan in February where South Africa accumulated 192 for 6. This is considered the highest total recorded at the venue when it comes to T20Is.
No cricket player has scored a century at Newlands during a T20I. JP Duminy has the highest recorded T20I runs at Newlands, scoring 229 runs from 7 matches. Sri Lanka has enjoyed two T20 Internationals in Cape Town, losing to Australia in 2007 and defeating South Africa in 2017.
Sam Billings managed to rescue England before the four-wicket haul from Chris Jordan to demolish the West Indies for 45. This provided England with a 137-run win during the second T20 International and an incontrovertible 2-0 lead in the cricket series.
Sam Billings and Joe Root
Sam Billings was the Man of the Match, knocking a career-best of 87 from 47 balls and a T20I return from Joe Root who managed to make 55 off 40 balls. This allowed the England squad to be resurrected from a mere 32 for four after only 5.2 overs.
Then Jordan’s incredible four from 6 overs meant that the West Indies were never actually in the contest. They are falling for the second lowest total in T20I history, behind the 39 runs made by the Netherlands against Sri Lanka in 2014 during the World T20. It’s considered the lowest total from a Full-Member nation. This is worse than the 60 runs accumulated by New Zealand when they played against Sri Lanka in the T20I and the 60 runs made by West Indies in Karachi last year against Pakistan.
While the top order was tumbling around Root, he managed to produce a genuinely composed innings where he shared an 82-run partnership with Sam Billings to accumulate his half-century. This was the first time Joe Root managed to reach double figures in 4 T20 International innings. He also had his 10th knock since he last managed to reach 50 during the World T20 Final in 2016 which was won by West Indies.
Once Joe Root was run-out, the rescue mission fell to Sam Billings, and he accepted it willingly. Sam Billings managed to rake up 17 runs in one over from Sheldon Cottrell which included a 6 to provide his half-century.
Carlos Brathwaite was economical throughout the first three overs where he claimed 1 for 11. However, he conceded a total of 22 during his last over which included three fours to Sam Billings and a 6 to David Willey. The partnership between Billings and Willey provided 68 runs before Billings was dismissed. By the time Billings was denied, he had managed to lead England to a phenomenal total. The West Indies won the coin toss and requested that England go on the pitch, anticipating that the ground will improve as the game unfolded. However, the West Indies were not on the ball long enough for this to occur.
David Willey continued to press during the match, snaring the wicket of Gayle for only five which was caught by Joe Root in mid-on. He also managed to knock out Hope. After that, Jordan went crazy, claiming wickets of Jason Holder and Darren Brova with consecutive balls. He also led to dismiss Allen and Nicholas Pooran during his second over. The damage was done, allowing Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid to clean up the tail end of the West Indies batting force. This provided England with the most significant T20 International victory within 12 overs.
Shashank Manohar, the ICC chairman, might feel that test cricket is dying. However, the chief executive for global cricket, David Richardson, states that he has numbers to prove that the statement from Manohar is entirely wrong. According to Richardson, after an ICC survey was conducted in 2018, Test cricket has a committed and active fan base of approximately 700 million. This is around 68% of the fan pool on a global scale of more than a billion.
World Test Championship
Without countering the ICC chairman. Richardson stated that Manohar was merely suggesting that Test cricket is dying for a context, and the upcoming World Test Championship will be able to provide that context.
“We are attempting to see if the Test championship will be able to generate interest,” Manohar stated during a visit to Bangladesh that took place earlier this month. “Because Test cricket is essentially dying if I need to be completely honest.”
Manohar also stated that cricket fans find it extremely difficult to attend a five-day match. Therefore much instead prefer to watch a T20 game which only lasts around 4 hours. The T20 cricket format has managed to generate keen interest from broadcasters which has been based on the television rating points.
The comments made by Manohar seemed a bit misplaced if you take into account that Test cricket was the centre of attention when it came to significant results and thrilling contests. Consider the match between India and Australia or when the West Indies managed to beat England is a shocking 2-1 win. You can also include Sri Lanka becoming the first Asian team to claim victory in South Africa during a Test series.
However, the format still lacks context that will make fans sit up and notice these matches that don’t involve their favourite teams, according to Richardson. This is something that the World Test Championship will be able to provide.
Comments from David Richardson
“What Manohar was trying to say about Test cricket is that it’s calling for more context.” David Richardson stated to reporters recently in London, during the countdown to the Cricket World Cup. “Some phenomenal matches occur from time to time. However, unless you consider yourself a die-hard fan of all participating teams in the cricketing world, that particular series didn’t have much interest on a global scale.
“Thanks to the introduction of the WTC, that adds far more interests. Assisting in promoting Test cricket around the world, regardless of who is playing on that day. This is what Manohar was trying to say: Test cricket simply needed an extra boost and needs to be promoted which the WTC will hopefully achieve.”
“Perhaps the way fans are following Test cricket is very different to how it was two decades ago. However, I don’t believe it’s dying. Thankfully, the World Test Championship will offer more interest and context to Test cricket which will give it the much-needed boost it deserves.
Chris Gayle is playing exceptionally well in the ODI series while facing England, and with the World Cup to follow, it’s highly unlikely that a lack of confidence is holding him back.
“You are looking at an exceptional man,” Gayle stated when asked if he was satisfied with his cricketing career. “I am currently the greatest cricket player in the world and still considered the Universe Boss which is something that will never change. I will take that to the grave.”
Chris Gayle’s Career
However, his cricketing career, on an ODI level, is about to come to an end. The next few weeks will see Gayle participate in his last ODI when he visits the Caribbean, while retirement will come after the World Cup campaign comes to an end for West Indies. At the age of 39 and also on the brink of becoming the fourteenth man to score more than 10,000 runs in ODI’s, he finally decided to call it a day. Should he be selected for the World Cup, it will be his fifth tournament in his cricketing career.
“I will draw the line after the next World Cup, “Gayle stated. “With 50-over cricket, it’s the end for me after the World Cup. I’ll give the youngsters the opportunity to have some fun while I sit back and enjoy the game from the party stand. Claiming a win at the World Cup will undoubtedly be a fairy-tale finish. There’s no denying that the youngsters own it to me to claim a victory. They need to do that for me and attempt to claim the trophy for me too. I’ll provide my input in the World Cup as well.”
Thankfully, Gayle hopes that it’s not the end of his cricketing career. Apart from the several T20 commitments he made in the domestic leagues, he hasn’t ruled out appearing in the T20 World Cup which will take place in Australia during 2020.
“It’s simple, if I don’t play, it won’t be considered a tournament,” Gayle stated. “England should invite me over. Once that happens, I’ll explore the competition and thanks, everyone. I’ll be able to set the trend like I managed to do in tournaments across the globe. I’m in perfect condition. My body is feeling fantastic, and I’m pleased about that. I managed to lose a bit of weight and refuse to get too big. Thankfully, there’s still time to work on my six pack. I’m attempting to keep up with the younger players on the field who act like cats when they chase the ball. Fortunately, I still have what is needed, and I still enjoy the game.”
When Chris Gayle and the West Indies managed to defeat England in a recent Test series, Gayle stated that it was one of the best things that ever happened in the last decade. He will be remembered as one of the best cricket players that ever played the sport.