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Natural Talent Magnified

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After all, in this format, batsmen are expected to go out all guns blazing, so no one will bat an eyelid if he holes out or misses the line. And all bowlers know T20 is totally a batsman’s game; they are expected to be hit for a boundary at least once (in the first ten overs) or twice (in the next five) or thrice (in the last five). 

So, no one has anything to lose. The teams which have more natural talents firing on a given day will usually win. Individual brilliance will win more cricket matches in T20 than any other format, mostly from the batsmen (thanks to the flat pitches). The team that can muster up the most individually brilliant performances over a period of time will win the most matches. That will be identified as team consistency in this format.

As the exceptions, occasionally sensible pragmatic cricket will win some teams games, but only if they run into a side from which no brilliant individual performances emanate on that given day.

And what of the individual performers themselves? Will they be the more expected performers like Gilchrist, Jayasuriya, Tendulkar, Gibbs, Symonds, Sehwag, Ponting, Yuvraj, Sangakarra, Dhoni, etc or the ones who have given prior evidence of suitable talent in a format like this and are happy to get a stage like this, like McCullum? Well, my guess is that it could well be talents like Kallis, Dravid, Fleming, Jayawardane…and the likes, who are proven greats where the mental achievement has been more noticeable than the natural talent. With the license to give full vent to their natural ability, we may be in for some revelations; they are likely to be the hungriest established players in the IPL, and interestingly perhaps the ones under the least pressure in this format. Batsmen like Kaif, Katich, Langer etc might be worth looking out for. Michael Hussey proved this yesterday (and Misbah Ul Haq proved it in the T20 World Cup).

And occasionally when the bowlers do some magic (as the Delhi team did yesterday, especially Maharoof), once again, it could well be the ones not great enough to do it consistently at the highest level, but good enough to be lethal in a very short spell or two. 

They used to say 50-over cricket was a lottery. Well, T20 is Russian Roulette then (it’s the same thing, but quicker, with more drama and noise). Given that the standard of players is more or less similar in the eight teams (regardless of distribution of big names), anybody can actually beat anybody on a given day. The eventual semi finalists could well be the least likely four teams.

And no, an ICL vs IPL match-up would probably be one-sided. It’s like second division playing first division really. Even the inherent uncertainties of the format probably wouldn’t be able to gulf the disparity of standards.

The most interesting thing in the coming weeks would be to see whether audience enthusiasm wanes as the law of diminishing returns is tested. The media, with its commercial agendas, will keep the hype going regardless, but if the cricket-going public overdoses on cricket, we will know. And that could well be alarm bells for the cricket establishments.

Either way, it is hard to see 50-over cricket retaining any charm after this. T20 is there to showcase natural talent, Test Cricket to bring out character…what on earth is ODI cricket for? Any answers?
 
(Click here to know more about Jaideep)



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