Following last time’s Y Team, we come to the QUXZ supergroup.
The ICC World T20 2016, a tournament that started off under heavy criticism over being unfair to associates, was already a huge success by the time we came to its business end.
From nerve-wracking finishes to the rise of Afghans, cricket fans could not have asked for anything better. Here’s a list of five of the best moments of the tournament.
The associates raise their voice
That only two of the ICC’s eight associate nations qualified for the main event was undoubtedly unfair and cruel sides. With 2019 World Cup being reduced to ten teams, discontent was rising among the associate nations as they stepped into this tournament.
The washout of games and the need for the associates to play each match in the qualifying stage as their last led to bitter comments captains on the difficulties they face. Scotland captain Preston Mommsen’s question, “How could I improve my skills if I play just one international game in one year,” was a simple but an eye-opening question that aptly described how the ICC treats the associates.
Along with their own voices, the associates were also ably supported by fellow cricketers and fans. Importantly, associate nations backed their voices with some brilliant, mature and exuberant performances in the tournament, especially from Afghanistan.
Let’s hope that ICC does better in the future for associate nations and help cricket expand beyond its conventional boundaries.
Rise of Afghanistan
To put the disappointment of not qualifying for the Asia Cup behind them and then qualifying for the main event under such grueling conditions in qualifying stage was a wonderful achievement Afghanistan.
To top it off, Afghanistan gave scares to Sri Lanka, South Africa and England, before topping it up with a win over the West Indies. Afghanistan showed tremendous self-belief in getting to 123 from a precarious position of 56/5, and then they executed a lion-hearted effort in restricting the strong West Indies batting line up to 117.
They managed to hold their nerve as they defended just 10 runs in the last over with hard-hitting Carlos Braithwaite at the crease. Afghanistan’s fearless attitude and an unprecedented passion for the game was a joy to watch and players like Mohammed Shahzad, Mohammed Nabi and skipper Asghar Stanikzai brought a breath of fresh air that the tournament desperately needed.
Fair contest between bat and ball
Cricket is a contest between bat and a ball, right? Well it’s expected to be that way.
But what we saw at the 2015 Cricket World Cup was comical. Batting paradises, and five fielders inside the circle led to many batting totals swelling out of proportion.
So to see bowlers given a fair chance was a refreshing change this World T20. The pitches in Nagpur, Delhi and Dharamshala were quite conducive for bowling. Moreover, bowlers from almost all the teams prepared well, tried new variations and restricted the batting teams to modest totals.
The yorker, seemingly forgotten of late, was used to choke batsmen in death overs. Overall, it was exciting to see bowlers dictating their terms and, as a cricket fan, it was enjoyable to see a fair contest between bat and a ball rather than seeing a contest between two batting units.
Revival of World T20
The tournament’s history dates back to Sep 11, 2007, when the inaugural match of the inaugural World T20 was played between West Indies and South Africa at Johannesburg. T20 was relatively new then and no one knew much about it.
But that tournament was a huge success, a format which caught the imagination of fans. But as the time passed by, the tournament started to lose its charm, and the World T20s hosted by England, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh failed to promote the format well.
But this World T20 has changed it all. A fair contest between bat and ball, some fabulous individual performances, nail-biting finishes, and huge crowd support has certainly revived the fortunes of the World T20. The edge-of-the-seat, thrilling contests have been an assett not only for the T20 format but to the game of cricket as a whole.
Can this victory lead to West Indies revival?
With Carlos Brathwaite on strike and Ben Stokes with ball in hand, the West Indies needed 19 off the last over to win the tournament.
Four sixes later and the West Indies were champions.
The victory was the perfect icing on the cake for what was a fabulous World T20.
But now the question is can this victory revive the fortunes of cricket in the Caribbean?
The same question was posed four years ago when the West Indies won in Sri Lanka in 2012, but it did little to boost cricket in the region.
Will the latest victory see the dispute between the board and its players end?
Darren Sammy is not a Clive Lloyd and this victory is not going to revive the things in a fortnight, but this victory does give people back in the Caribbean the hope that West Indies cricket can be revived, and that the side can play at its full potential even in all formats.
If everything works out well, we could get a strong West Indies team playing at its full potential across all the three formats in the near future.