If you are not a cricket lover, the start of the T20 Cricket World Cup this Sunday may have passed you by. The tournament opener sees Oman face Papua New Guinea, ahead of Bangladesh taking on Scotland in the second match of the day, in, possibly, the most low-key start to a tournament in the history of world sport. The World Cup was scheduled for last year, and was supposed to be held in India, but the pandemic put an end to that, so Oman and the UAE have stepped in to make sure this competition can happen.
For the cricket novices there are a few things to know before settling in for a couple of matches. The first is T20 is short for Twenty20, which is a relatively new format of cricket in which 20 six ball overs are the maximum that can be bowled in each innings. This format is one of several that exist, with the oldest form being Test Match Cricket, that can last five days. You also have one day matches (50 overs per innings), T10 cricket (10 overs p/i) and the Hundred (100 balls p/i) to add into the mix, which is a headache inducing set of formats is clearly designed to bamboozle those accessing the game.
The beauty of the T20 format and this competition is its unpredictability.
Largely seen as the pinnacle of the game, Test Match Cricket is the Michelin Star Restaurant of the sport. One takes one’s time to enjoy and digest the quality on display. In comparison, T20 Cricket is more of an “All You Can Eat” buffet, in that it sometimes lacks the depth of the higher end offerings, but it leaves a short-term sense of satisfaction as much can be consumed in a short period of time. With fireworks, unorthodox shots, and overexcited commentators the order of the day, this form of cricket has its critics, as well as its advocates.
The first week of this World Cup will see eight nations, including the four mentioned alongside Namibia, Netherlands, Ireland, and Sri Lanka, compete to get into the “Super 12” stage of the competition when the cricketing big guns, such as England, India, Australia, and the West Indies (who are the current holders of the trophy), enter. Two groups of six will fight it out to secure slots in the Semi-Finals which will be played on 11 November, ahead of the Final on 14 November, held at the rather impressive Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The beauty of the T20 format and this competition is its unpredictability. Since the first competition in 2007, no favourite has ever won it, and the 2016 final showcased just how quickly the momentum in a match can swing. Almost 66,000 people witnessed the West Indies beat England in the final over. The men from the Caribbean needed 19 runs off that final over, a big task at more than 3 runs per ball. England were odds-on favourites to win from that position. However, four consecutive sixes from West Indies batter Carlos Braithwaite sealed a most unlikely victory for the West Indies. The highlights of that match are still worth a watch.
The West Indies have a slim chance of retaining their crown in 2021. India are the strong favourites for this competition, but don’t forget, the favourites never seem to win it! England, who won the One Day International World Cup in 2019 under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan, go to the Middle East with every confidence of doing the “double”. Elsewhere, Pakistan and New Zealand are outside bets, and Australia have a history of winning in all formats of the game, so they cannot be ruled out.
Whatever the outcome it will be a thriller. Even if you are not a cricket lover, don’t miss out. Time to get that plate and head to the “All You Can Eat” buffet that is T20 cricket. You never know, you may well be dining in the Michelin Star restaurant by the time the Ashes start in December.