Each of the venues has brought a different aspect to the game
We are just past the halfway stage of the Super 12s, with all teams having played at least twice and the competition for semi-final spots hotting up. The T20 World Cup as a whole has been running for more than two weeks, and several trends have started to emerge – some of them expected, some less so. Let’s have a look at a few of the key talking points…
Pursuit of victory
This was something that plenty had predicted, going by the data from the two recent IPL seasons fully or partially played in the UAE – but there’s been absolutely no doubt about what most teams will opt to do on winning the toss. Never mind the thrill of the chase, so far at this World Cup batting second has occasionally felt as perfunctory as filling out the paperwork for a new parking permit. Including the first round, when there was perhaps a greater degree of variability between sides, there have been eight wins out of 28 for teams batting first. If you limit it to the Super 12s, that drops to three from 16, for a win/loss ratio of 0.230. Dew is likely a key factor, particularly in evening games, as well as a lack of certainty around what to expect from pitches (more on that below). Heads I win, tails you lose.
Losing three wickets in the powerplay, so the T20 wizards say, is usually a good indicator that you’re heading for defeat. In their campaign opener in Dubai, England spluttered along to 39 for 3 – luckily for them, West Indies had pre-emptively said “hold my beer” by registering 31 for 4 in their powerplay, on the way to 55 all out. The powerplay batting average of 20.25 at this tournament is currently the lowest of all T20 World Cups. However, it’s worth breaking that down further: in the Super 12s, teams have averaged 18.24 in the first innings, compared to 27.54 in the second. This highlights how hard it has been to judge a par score when batting first, the chasing side able to “spend” their resources far better with a target to aim for.
Before the tournament began, it was possible to predict what to expect from the three main grounds in use – Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah – because of the amount of T20 played in the region over the last year or so. But there has been some obvious divergence, playing into the problems for teams attempting to set a target. Abu Dhabi, the ground with the biggest playing area, had been expected to be high-scoring; but in the Super 12s it has only seen one total above 126. Pace at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium – average 17.12, econ 6.01 – has been the most effective bowling style at any of the venues. By contrast, spin has been influential (average 22.34, econ 6.23) in Dubai, which is usually a more pace-friendly venue. Meanwhile, the relaid Sharjah square appears to be settling in, following some tricky outings at the IPL – the ground has the best run rate, and the three highest totals, during the Super 12s.
This has been stark. One of the overarching trends in T20 in recent years had been the increased premium on hitting sixes. For four consecutive seasons at the IPL, between 2017 and 2020, the number of balls per six was below 20; in 2021, which included a shift from India to the UAE halfway through, that rose slightly to 21. However, in the T20 World Cup so far, balls per six currently sits at 27.3 – a rate which only dips to 26.8 when you limit the sample to games in the Super 12s. Such scarcity has, perhaps, amplified the value of players who are still able to tee off in these conditions – as explosive middle-order cameos by the likes of Asif Ali, Nicholas Pooran and David Miller have shown.
Another pre-tournament perception, that spinners would revel in the slow, low conditions, has been balanced out by quick bowlers reasserting their value on attritional pitches. The success for pace in Abu Dhabi (as well as in Oman during the first round) has already been noted, with cutters and slower balls to the fore, while there have been notable examples of what might be styled old-fashioned Test seamers – Josh Hazlewood, Chris Woakes, Jason Holder – employing “hard lengths” to good effect in the powerplay. More than anything, though, as Pakistan and, erm, Namibia have long known, you can’t do much better than a demon left-armer. In the Super 12s, left-arm pace averages 18.00 – up there with legspin as the most penetrative bowling styles going. No wonder we all want to be Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Also on the radar:
Floating batting line-ups – Dawid Malan sliding down in a small chase, Glenn Maxwell going to No. 3 after a strong start, Shakib Al Hasan opening the batting (okay, he was carrying an injury). But flexibility is the watchword.
Afghanistan do it their way – Win the toss and
bowl bat, because that’s what we do. And Mohammad Nabi’s side could very well have been three from three batting first, had it not been for Asif.
BBL11 2021-22 – Bowling attack gives Melbourne Renegades hope of revival
The batting remains questionable and they will be looking for the youngsters to develop
Captain Nic Maddinson
Coach David Saker
Cameron Boyce, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Josh Lalor, Shaun Marsh, Jono Merlo (replacement player), James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, James Seymour (replacement player), Will Sutherland, Nic Maddinson, Reece Topley (Eng), Unmukt Chand (Ind), Mohammad Nabi (Afg), Zahir Khan (Afg)
In Nic Maddinson, Jono Merlo, James Seymour, Reece Topley, Unmukt Chand, Zahir Khan
Out Beau Webster, Peter Hazloglou, Jon Holland, Benny, Howell, Noor Ahmed, Imran Tahir, Imad Wasim
It was another disastrous season for the Renegades finishing last for the second straight year. They won their first match and then lost seven in a row. Their batting was abysmal, bowled out for less than 90 on three occasions and 111 in another match against Adelaide. The bowling was nowhere near as effective as season’s past and they struggled to find a consistent unit as they mixed and matched their overseas players. There was one bright spot as they produced a brilliant chasing win over Melbourne Stars late in the season. Mackenzie Harvey starred smashing 47 not out from 21 balls to give a glimpse into the future.
Renegades have been severely impacted by both Australia selection and injury. Nic Maddinson‘s selection in the Australia A side to face England Lions means the new Renegades captain won’t get a chance to lead his new club until their fourth game at the earliest. Marcus Harris is set to miss most of the season due to Test duty. Aaron Finch is in doubt for the early games due to his ongoing knee issue while Shaun Marsh is set to miss at least half the tournament due to a calf tear. England does have tour of West Indies in the new year and Afghanistan is scheduled to visit Bangladesh but it is unknown if the likes of Reece Topley, Mohammad Nabi or Zahir Khan will need to leave the BBL early.
Reece Topley is an important recruit for Renegades and has a chance to make a serious statement to England selectors ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia next year. Fellow Englishman Harry Gurney was a key part of Renegades’ run to the title three years ago and Topley has a similar opportunity to cause havoc on the inconsistent home surface of Marvel Stadium.
Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)
Renegades were the worst bowling unit in the previous BBL edition. Their bowling economy rate of 8.61 was the highest among all teams and their death bowling economy was 11.24. If Renegades want to play finals, this is an area they need to focus on. Their attack certainly looks stronger this season
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo
Chris Gayle farewell on the cards with Jamaica set to host West Indies-Ireland series
The series will comprise three ODIs and a one-off T20I, all at Sabina Park
While Gayle will not be part of the ODI squad, with the series counting towards 2023 World Cup qualification through the Super League, the one-off fixture at Sabina Park could be used as his farewell game. ESPNcricinfo understands that a decision has yet to be made on Gayle’s inclusion but that the issue will be up for discussion at the next meeting of CWI’s board of directors later this month.
“It’s whether collectively we all feel that it’s appropriate for him to have one last game at home to say farewell in a one-off game,” Johnny Grave, CWI’s chief executive, told the Mason and Guest radio show in Barbados last month. “That Ireland series would represent that opportunity.
“It would certainly be appropriate, as far as I can see it, to treat our players and give them the opportunity to bow out – especially players like Chris who have had unbelievable careers and won trophies for the West Indies.”
“We are pleased to be returning to the Caribbean where we have so many great memories,” Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland’s performance director, said. “The World Cup Super League is a crucial set of fixtures for Ireland as we attempt to qualify for the next Cricket World Cup, and – if the series in 2020 is anything to go by – we look forward to a highly competitive series in January.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
Bangladesh tour of NZ BCB approves Shakib Al Hasan’s request to skip New Zealand tour
Nazmul Hassan says BCB has no problem with players wanting a break, but says it should happen via official channels
“We have accepted his request,” Hassan said. “We have been saying this for a long time that we have no objection if a player wants to take a break or rest, but it has to be informed officially. The thing is, we want to be informed about such a decision in advance as it is difficult for us if it is informed suddenly. From January, if anyone wants a break, he has to inform us in advance so that we can prepare alternatives.”
This is the third time in 2021 that Shakib has skipped a tour for Bangladesh. He opted out of the white-ball tour of New Zealand in March due to paternity leave before missing the two Tests against Sri Lanka in April to play in the IPL.
Hassan felt Shakib should have asked for the leave officially, rather than informing them verbally.
“This [the confusion] is not embarrassing, to be honest. We simply didn’t know about it, officially,” Hassan said. “The thing is, these things have always happened unofficially. Now, to avoid confusion, we are emphasising that these matters should be official.”
Bangladesh’s tour of New Zealand includes two Tests, part of the World Test Championship, beginning on New Year’s Day. The team will leave on December 9 to complete quarantine and then play practice matches.
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