Cricket Corner: The next World Cup wave, SA20 goes big as BBL makes way


Cricket Corner: The next World Cup wave, SA20 goes big as BBL makes way

Finn Allen scored 134 of 62 balls for New Zealand in the third T20I against Pakistan
Finn Allen scored 134 of 62 balls for New Zealand in the third T20I against PakistanAFP
In this weekly feature, Flashscore's Pat Dempsey brings together the leading talking points from the increasingly sprawling universe of the world's second-most watched sport.

In a nod to the longest form of the game - Test cricket - the article is broken into three sections to mirror the main intervals in a day’s play: Lunch - the main course; Tea - something extra; and Stumps (the end of play) - something to ponder over a few drinks at the bar.

Lunch: Are we already thinking about the next World Cup? 

Plenty is going on in the world of cricket at the moment with Pakistan in New Zealand for a Twenty20 (T20) series, India playing Afghanistan in the same format ahead of a Test series against England and Australia hosting a new-look West Indies in two Tests to be followed by duel white-ball series. Oh, and Sri Lanka have been playing Zimbabwe as well. Where do we start? Let’s focus on the short-form stuff this week.

Pakistan and New Zealand are three games into their five-game T20 series and the Black Caps have impressed posting 226 in the first match, 194 in the second and 224 in the third, defending each total. Opener Finn Allen is back in form for the Kiwis, leading the runs and piling on a colossal 134 off just 62 balls in the latest contest. Former captain Babar Azam is firing for Pakistan, he has scored a fifty in each loss after a rather lean time in Australia. More important than the results perhaps, both sides are getting a good look at combinations ahead of the approaching T20 World Cup in June - yep, that’s not too far off at all.

India will also be using their matches against Afghanistan (the final one is today) to plan ahead and their main takeaway has been the good form of allrounder Shivam Dube who scored 50s chasing in both the first two matches of the series. At 30, Dube is a bit of a late bloomer but could well be forcing himself into India’s middle order for the World Cup in the West Indies and USA.

Zimbabwe won’t have to worry too much about the World Cup as they spectacularly failed to qualify but Sri Lanka will be there. Sri Lanka never lack talent but are mercurial at best - especially so in recent years. Not long ago, they appointed new and separate captains across formats - another roll of the dice. They’ll be hoping their latest brainwave of giving the T20 reins to star allrounder Wanindu Hasaranga will yield fruit. Their big find in the ongoing series, however, has been 36-year-old veteran Angelo Mathews, who returned to the T20 fold for the first time in three years. He is driving them with the bat but gave up 24 runs with the ball in the final over as Zimbabwe clinched a thriller yesterday to level the series 1-1.

Tea: BBL gets pointy

It’s been a while since we touched on Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL) here in Cricket Corner and it is getting to the business end, finally. This season, the league was shortened to 10 regular season games (down from 14) with just the top four of eight sides progressing to the playoffs.

With the final regular season match washed out today, the top four is decided with (in order) Brisbane Heat, Sydney Sixers, Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers progressing. The playoffs get underway on Friday with the Heat playing the Sixers - the winner goes to the final while the loser plays the winner of the Scorchers and the Strikers. The final is next Wednesday at the ground of the highest seed but the Heat won’t be able to use the ‘Gabba in Brisbane if they make it due to the second Test with the West Indies being held there.

The final match of the round was set to be a wooden spoon hit out between the Melbourne Renegades and Sydney Thunder. Historically, those two - the two ‘second teams’ in Australia’s major cities - have been two of the worst performers in the BBL with the Thunder finishing last on five occasions now and the Renegades on three (out of 13). Perhaps this is symptomatic of the fact that the Sydney and Melbourne sides (being two in each city) must spread their state-based talent a little thinner than their rivals. Whatever the reasons, there have been calls to rethink these failing franchises with the Thunder linked with a move to Canberra.

Speaking of the Renegades, they, and cricket, said goodbye to former Australian white-ball captain Aaron Finch last week as he played his final professional game of T20 cricket. Finch departed as the tournament’s second-highest scorer (behind Chirs Lynn) and a legend of the format. Out with the old, in with the new - this season’s gun with the bat has been the Strikers’ Matthew Short who leads the run charts with 509 runs at almost 73. He’s been called up to Australia’s one-day squad again for the upcoming series and could well feature in Australia’s World Cup plans. He bats, he bowls, and he fields well - expect to see much more from Short, who is actually six foot two.

Stumps: Anything you can do, we can do better

Say what you will about South Africa’s shiny new SA20 league, it’s a high level of T20 cricket with plenty of big-name players. For those that don’t know, the second edition of the league started last week and runs until February 10th. It’s been in the news primarily because of the implications the league has had for South Africa’s upcoming Test tour of New Zealand but let’s leave that aside for now and focus on the league itself for a moment. 

All six of the sides in the league are owned by IPL franchises and are named as such. You have MI Cape Town, Sunrisers Eastern Cape, Paarl Royals, Joburg Super Kings, Durban’s Super Giants and Pretoria Capitals. That investment allows the league to attract a host of talent - with England and West Indies providing many to the pool - that the BBL seemingly can’t attract down under anymore.

We are now eight matches in (with the first abandoned due to rain) and after today’s fixture, each side will have played thrice. It’s safe to say that the most striking trend so far are the huge totals. In seven first innings, there have been five 200-plus scores. Rassie van der Dussen notched a massive 104 (off 50) for MI Cape Town over the weekend before rising talent Jordan Hermann matched him with a ton yesterday (106 off 62) for Sunrisers. MI’s Ryan Ricketlon has three 50s already and Super Giants’ big-hitting Heinrich Klaasen has a pair of them as well.

For all the international talent - Jos Buttler, Nick Pooran, Jason Roy (to name just a few) - South Africans account for the top eight scorers at the time of writing. I feel like it is said every World Cup, but watch out for South Africa on the small fields and flat wickets of the Caribbean in June. They have some serious willow-swinging talent both established and emerging.

Undoubtedly, it's a shame that the SA20's collision with the New Zealand tour caused the South Africans to select a second-string squad but equally undeniably, the SA20 has almost immediately emerged as one of the best T20 leagues going in terms of talent (and the kits are cool to boot). That’s what that IPL cash can do, I suppose. It makes you wonder what the future holds for non-IPL-affiliated leagues such as the BBL. Will they need to make room for an SA20 window soon? Strategy will be key to keeping those less moneyed leagues relevant as the IPL grows, births, or just buys further versions of itself. In the meantime, keep piling those runs on!



France gouvernement

Les jeux d’argent et de hasard peuvent être dangereux : pertes d’argent, conflits familiaux, addiction…

Retrouvez nos conseils sur (09-74-75-13-13, appel non surtaxé)

Do you want to withdraw your consent to display betting ads?
Yes, change settings