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High Standards

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A terrific way to analyze the standard of the tournament and what it takes to win it is to see how many teams have had to ‘go beyond themselves’ to do well. Every team and player has a basic, average standard of performance. Checking how many players have had to beat their own standards of performance shows not only who has done well, but also how difficult it has been to win it.

Before the World T20 began, ‘even-stevens’ was about as far as one could get when it came to picking semi-finalists.  All teams looked evenly matched, the basic average of all teams was around the same zone (click here if you are interested in numerical details). This is why it makes for interesting reading when you look to analyze the teams that did go out.

Broadly, it has been a very difficult tournament to win, and the standard of cricket has been fairly high on the whole (however difficult it may be for Indians to agree with that statement). This is because most teams have performed better than their average international T20 standard, including some of the teams that have gone out before the semis.

Typically, you would imagine that sustained levels of above-average competence across all departments – a typical New Zealand-ish outfit when in form - should at least assure you a semi-final berth. This hasn’t quite been the case. Teams have had to raise their bar by TWO notches i.e. beef up their performance overall, across all parameters, AND take their grade in any one department from 'consistent and above average' to 'exceptional'.

Let’s try and explore this a little better. Performances can be classified in three levels – ‘hit’, which means a player has performed above his average level of performance, ‘average’ which is precisely that, a player maintaining his basic standard, and ‘flop’, which means a player not living up to his potential.

India, Australia, New Zealand and England have no more than a maximum of 3 hits each from a squad of fifteen, though they have plenty of ‘averages’ (England has just one hit, for instance, and 7 averages), So, despite decent performances across the board, they haven’t really taken any one aspect of the game and claimed kingship over it.

Contrast this with the successful sides. South Africa and Pakistan have made bowling their big strength, with a whopping 4 and 3 hits amongst bowlers alone, with a total of 6 and 5 hits respectively overall. Sri Lanka have three hits in their bowling too, and given that Murali, Malinga and Mendis’ basic standard of performance is high by itself, a ‘hit’ performer would be practically impossible to, well, hit. The West Indians have three hits in their batting (we are not referring to the number of balls they hit when batting in the semi-final yesterday).

Australia was no doubt a big flop, and not just with the ball. This was one of their worst performances in recent times, with only Warner managing to come anywhere close to bettering his regular standard, with everyone else being below par. For England, Pietersen overcame his self-admitted weakness in T20 by playing not just beyond himself, but also beyond the overall benchmark set by his fairly competent team. The English pillar leaned heavily on Shah and Bopara, and their failure to show up cost them severely.  New Zealand would probably have fared much better had they picked Aaron Redmond right in the beginning, who played 3 matches and already found a spot in the top boundary hitters of the tournament, rather than come on as a replacement for one of their several injured players.

Curiously enough, India already had the basic formula – exceptional strength in one department and above-average standards in the other – going for them, with their basic average in batting itself being exceptionally higher than the others. All they need to do was play at par with their standard performance.  In any case, Sri Lanka v Pakistan should be an interesting match-up, given that both teams have very similar strengths. Let’s see how things pan out.

(Click here to know more about Jatin)





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