T ‘n’ T – They’re Dynamite

Trinidad and Tobago are the only undefeated team at the end of the League stage of the Champions League T20.  They racked up an explosive 213 to knock out the Eagles.

IPL will been known from now on simply as IL – Indian League.  Neither of the two IPL teams can progress to the semis.  All that remains is to see what the semi final match ups will be but the last four will be:

T & T v [Victoria or Cobras]
NSW v [Victoria or Cobras]

And of course, it remains to see if T & T can go all the way.  And if the likes of Daren Ganga and Dwayne Bravo will turn out for the Windies this summer…

Hijinx at Champions League T20

The Champions League T20 is reaching the conclusion of the first stage.  It has come to my attention that some people don’t even know that it is on.  As it is a little interesting, and a new event in cricket, I thought I should give it little space.

The tournament brings together the top team, or teams from various domestic T20 competitions.  I don’t know what the mathematics is (but I’m sure it has a lot to do with money) but IPL has three teams, while other nations get one team or two teams.

There are four pools of three teams each.  Now here is an interesting thing.  All pools are seeded with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd seed.  An oddity of this tournament is that groups remain as per seeding when they are allocated to the next stage, regardless of standings based on points, unless the third placed team qualifies.  If the team seeded third qualifies, it takes the place of the eliminated team. 

With all but one group finished, that isn’t going to happen unless Trinidad & Tobago beats Deccan (seeded 1st).  In that case, T & T will qualify as the number one ranked team.  In Group C, the Cobras won both matches but will go through ranked second.   Go figure.  Apparently this is being rationalised with the explanation that it makes planning for TV and logistics easier.

It is interesting to consider with this in light, lasts night’s match between Victoria and Wayamba.  The match started with Victoria on one win and Wayamba one loss.  Wayamba had to beat Vic by a certain margin to qualify.   Wayamba batted first and made 118 on a difficult pitch.  When Victoria start its chase, they knew that they had to score just 84 runs to qualify on run rate (or score 119 to win, of course). 

Victoria lost but in scoring 103, qualified.  Victoria had nothing to gain by winning the match and the group as standings remain unchanged.  However, they had something to gain by losing!  By ensuring Wayamba was eliminated, Vic goes through with its points from beating Delhi (who also progressed).  As is common in cricket tournaments these days, points earned against other terms progressing to the next stage are carried through.  Delhi takes no points through as they beat Wayamba (now eliminated).  In my opinion, Victoria obviously made no attempt to win the match – why would they?  What team loses by 15 runs with just 4 wickets down?  If that isn’t match fixing, what is?  Is match fixing legal if it is simply taking advantage of silly tournament rules (and as long as no team members bet against themselves)?

Other brief comments:

After spurning McGrath for the whole of the last IPL season, Delhi made an SOS call and the great man took 2/20 from four overs.

The IPL teams are not fairing so well, with all of them suffering defeats.  Perhaps the “P” will need to be removed.  In fairness, it should be noted that the IPL teams are not playing at full strength as some players have been lost to other teams in the tournament.  There are quite a few players who were able to choose between two teams.  Out of interest, these are the ones I have noticed:

McCullum is playing for Otago, not his beloved NSW
Warner is playing for NSW, not Delhi
Bracks is playing for NSW instead of Bangalore
Gibbs is playing for Cobras, not Deccan
Nannes, the only IPL faithful, is playing for Delhi and not Victoria.

Black Caps go Vettoriless and Victoryless

Good fortune continued to smile upon Australia before the ICC Champions Trophy final.  The Kiwis were without their heart and soul, Daniel Vettori, when he pulled a hamstring.  Not only was the pitch conducive to spin (Haurtiz took 3-37) but the Black Caps could have benefitted from Vettori’s late order resolve and class (Vettori had the second best batting average of the tournament for the Kiwis).

New Zealand managed a modest 9/200, which Australia wiped off easily, after some early worries.  After scoring three successive ducks, Watson scored his second successive century (both unbeaten) and rocketed to the top of the averages.  He’s the gift to Australian cricket that just keeps on giving.  The best opener Australia has seen probably since Andrew Hilditch.  Whatever the case, having his place in the team absolutely guaranteed, does appear to help Watson’s confidence.

Australia wins in a canter.  But who did Australia really beat?  They didn’t have to play South Africa nor Sri Lanka.  The match against India was washed out (admittedly with Australia in a strong position).  Fate strangely and kindly determined that Australia would play England in the semi final.  It seemed like just five minutes beforehand that they flogged England 6-1and England was without its best bowler (Broad).  Then Vettori’s mishap before the final.

Buy hey – you can only beat the teams that you play against and Australia won every completed match.  I don’t know if they are officially the number one ranked team yet but who cares?  They have won the last three World Cups and the last two Champions Trophies.  Perhaps that speaks louder than any computer-based ranking system.

The Trophy is Staying Down Under

Australia and New Zealand have won their respective ICC Champions Trophy semi finals and that means the trophy will stay in the Antipodeas.

Australia showed that the final ball bye against Pakistan was worth the effort.  Topping Pool A put them up against England.  Without the best bowler of the tournament, Stuart Broad, the Poms were swept aside.  Watson, the batsman who wasn’t really out of form, proved the selectors were right.  He hit 136 not out, Ponting 111 not out as Australia prevailed by nine wickets with almost ten overs remaining.

New Zealand was a little harder pressed to dispatch Pakistan.  In their must win final match in Pool B, Grant Elliot shone with the ball.  In the semi final, aided by Vettori, he guided the Black Caps home with an unbeaten 75.

Well done to New Zealand.  I believe that this is their first final of a major tournament (no, I don’t count the B&H Tri Series).  It’s all come together for the Black Caps.  They could not take a trick in their preparation tournament in Sri Lanka and they were soundly beaten by South Africa in their first match here.  They even lost their warm up match against the Warriors (a local first class team).  Who’d have thought they’d be playing the final, with every chance of prevailing against a very beatable Australian team.