Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Twenty20 Lineup

2020 – the year in which a virus stopped play. But we are a resilient lot and found out ways to keep the beloved game running. It was also the year, in which cricket acknowledged a global, political issue. Although how much impact it made beyond the symbolism is to be seen. Presenting the the Slipstream Cricket XI for the year 2020. 

1. Bio bubbles & breaches 
Coronavirus stopped play but some fabulous work from the administrators, the support staffs and the players saw some games being played. The fans were happy for every single game which could be held. There were some hiccups here and there, but the tremendous work done behind the scenes in setting up these bio-bubbles for play must be really appreciated. We also saw the first instance of players getting suspended due to breach of bio bubble. Having personally experienced a quarantine I can vouch for how difficult it is, so really admire the people who have been moving from one bubble to the next for the last few months to keep us fans entertained. 

2. BLM 
Even cricket was no left untouched by the killing of Georg Floyd. Before the game restarted, there was speech by Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent on their experience of racism. Those interviews really hit hard and gave the viewers a perspective of what people have had to experience in different parts of the world just because of the colour of their skin. There were symbolic gestures like taking the knee and raising a fist. Even debates were ignited of the issues in South Africa and the need for educating players (especially Asians). The fact that we are talking about it is a step in the right direction. Let’s hope to see real world results beyond the cricket field as well. 

3. 3TC 
South Africa cricket was in its own unique turmoil with the country’s government stepping in and ICC close to banning it. But they managed to add a new variety to the game. 3 Teams of 8 players each playing in the same match! Let’s see what further innovations/complications are in store for the Gentleman’s Game. They also got a silver lining in the form of Brexit which chokes (:P) the Kolpak talent drain. 

4. 86174 
That was the number of people watching the game live at the Women’s T20 Final. It was supposed to be the stepping stone for something big. But unfortunately, that was the last match played in “normal” times. And just like that women’s cricket slipped out of the limelight again (Very unfortunate) 

5. Debutante of the Year 
It wasn’t just about the Final though. Thailand made their first appearance at the world’s biggest stage. They might not have won a single game but their presence lit up the Womens T20 World Cup. BCCI, not usually known for doing the right things for the womens’ game, showed remarkable thinking in inviting Thai star player Natthakan Chantam to play in the Womens T20 Challenge. Chantam put in an extraordinary diving save at the boundary line which certainly made into all highlights packages for the year. 

6. Fake match 
There is a growing concern with the increasing visibility of fantasy (betting) games in cricket. They are now sponsoring leading tournaments and even organizing random ones in far flung corners of the cricketing world. They even have a live feed many times. And there was one such event where a match was conducted near Mohali, with masked players, pretending to be former Sri Lankan stars! Truly a fantasy game in every sense of the word! ICC really needs to keep a close watch on these fantasy sites. 

7. Never give up 
Fawad Alam hit a century on debut, played 2 more Tests and then was dropped. Over a decade later he makes a comeback and a couple of Tests later adds another Test century. Yes, patience pays off! 

8. Retro Live 
With all play suspended what do the live scoring websites do? They run retro live commentary! i.e. do a ball-by-ball commentary of a game from yore as if it is happening in real-time with even reader comments flowing in! That is some innovation. 

9. Doing a Tewatia 
Every IPL brings some unheralded names to the forefront. This year it was Rahul Tewatia. It was not just his performances but how he rebuilt an innings. From being unable to get bat on ball, suddenly turning the match on its head by smashing 5 sixes in an over off an international bowler. And a few days later, he pulled off another such heist, or as it is called now – he did a Tewatia 

10. The Nomad 
Aaron Finch is the Australian limited overs captain. Yet he hasn’t really hit it off in the IPL. But a solid reputation keeps him in good stead. So, he has now played for 8 different IPL teams! 

11. To sum up the year 2020
The Zimbabwe batsman makes his Test debut. Gets hit on the head fielding at short leg and is substituted out. Recovers from concussion. Plays the next Test. Again gets hit on the head fielding at short leg. Again the batsman is Kusal Mendis. And again he gets substituted. Somehow, sums up the year 2020. 

12. The 12th Man 
Yuzvendra Chahal becomes the first substitute to end up getting Man of the Match! 

So that was it for 2020, a truly bizarre year in all respects. Now lets see how 2021 picks up the pieces of the cricketing schedules that have been thrown haywire. 

Wishing all readers a Very Happy New Year!

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