Akmal’s Brilliance and 20/20 Overkill

6 07 2010

The Brilliance of Akmal

If anyone is going to save Pakistani cricket it will be Umar Akmal. Despite looking faintly ridiculous thanks to his liberal application of bright green lip paint (we would call it lipstick but that might offend him!), Akmal is fast proving to be one of the best young batsman in world cricket.

The distinguishing factor of how good a player tends to be is the amount of time he has to play the ball. Akmal, on this basis, looked streets ahead of all the other Pakistani players and demonstrated a range of shots that had the Australian bowlers struggling to contain him. If he can maintain his progress and translate this ability into the test matches it will be a major fillip for the Pakistani team.

In what was a good win in the end for the men in green Mohamed Aamer, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal ensured that the Australians were always kept in check. Gul and Aamer are two quality fast bowlers but when you then consider that Aamer is still only just over 18 years old, quite honestly, it is astonishing. Ajmal was famously taken apart by Hussey in the last over of the World 20/20 semi final a couple of months ago and in all likelihood will often go for runs, yet he will always be dangerous too as he proved yesterday. In the tests this Summer we anticipate him to be a major force against both the Australians and the English.

A well done is also deserved for the Edgbaston authorities who ensured a lively atmosphere and excellent crowd proving that Pakistan could do worse than repeat this experiment of playing their home games in England.

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20/20 Overkill

In a cricketing world in which having more of everything is deemed to be a good idea and money rules all, it was always likely that there would come a point where there were too many games with not enough significance to hold spectators attentions. This is a favourite theme of ours at the Compulsive Hooker, die hard cricket fans that we may be, and recurs regularly in various forms throughout the worlds cricketing media.

Various players have spoken about it although usually, as soon as the dollar signs are writ large, they quieten and are willing to sell their services. Ricky Ponting, Stuart Broad and one or two others are notable exceptions to this rule. In opposition to the media and these few players, the administrators of the game and certainly the County Clubs, in their quest to ever increase the bottom line, have always ignored the warning signs and ploughed on regardless. When 20/20 cricket came along, it appeared to be the proverbial golden egg laying goose, but now there are signs in England at any rate that this gold has turned to bronze.

The English domestic 20/20 competition this year has been blighted by much lower attendances on average than in previous years. To be sure there has been the occasional game being close to sold out which suggests that given a meaning or significant context the crowds will still come; but seemingly the problem lies in the enormous number of games. In total there are 151 across the entire competition which to us seems ludicrously high. Up until recently there had been talk that a further or 20/20 competition would be formed in some way or another and that the county championship would be shortened to accommodate it. Fortunately now common sense and a proper respect for the real pillars of cricket appear to be emerging with a meeting to be held to discuss the future of the 20/20 game. First class cricket is likely to be left as it is and, if they have any sense, they will reduce the number of matches thereby ensuring a higher attendance for each one.

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