Australia has started its T20 campaign with a win. Australia may have started the match ranked slightly higher than Ireland but they went in as underdogs in the battle of the T20 cellar dwellers. With Watson guiding the way with bat and ball, Australia made light of a difficult proposition and swept the Irish aside, winning by seven wickets with 29 balls to spare.
From the time he took a wicket with the first ball of the match, Watson dominated proceedings. He took three wickets and made 51 runs from just 30 balls.
One over of note saw Watson’s strike rate plummet and in doing so, gave me something to think about. The third over of the Australian innings was a ten ball epic from Boyd Rankin, which included four wide deliveries. After ball one of that over, Watson was on 7 runs from 3 balls (SR 175). By the end of the over, Watson, who face all of the wides, had seen his strike rate halved (83.33) simply because his bat was not long enough!
It made me consider whether it is fair to count wides in a batsman’s balls faced tally. By definition, a wide is a ball that a batsman can’t reasonably score from so why should it be counted against him in his strike rate? Maybe this should be changed for T20, at least where there is an understandable preoccupation with strike rates.
Anyway, it didn’t affect Watson as he smashed 41 runs from his next 18 balls before being run out.
In the other match of the day, Afghanistan (136) scrapped it out well with India (159), losing by just 23 runs.
I’m talking of course, of Australia’s teen sensation, Pat Cummins. Obviously, the reference to “zero” may well refer to Australia’s T20 ranking (more on that later) but I am referring to the final over of the second T20 where Cummins featured.
After giving up 37 runs in his four overs, Cummins found himself facing the music in Australia’s final over. Two balls remaining and Australia needed seven runs to avoid falling to below Ireland (that’s I-R-E-L-A-N-D), to tenth place on the ICC T20 ladder. Cummins has already had the distinction of hitting the winning runs in his only Test. Now he faced up to Abdul Razzaq having faced one ball and made one run.
Cool as a cucumber he smashed the ball way over mid-wicket. The umpires consulted on whether to award Cummins eight for such a strike, and end the match then and there but it stood as six. Scores tied. Hero.
The final ball was a juicy full toss on Cummins’ pads. Like a responsible tail- ender, he tried to stroke it carefully into the on side but only succeeded in skying a leading edge to mid-off. It is easy in hindsight but perhaps he should have given it the works. Zero.
Cummins then bowled Australia’s super over. He was defending only 11 and couldn’t do it.
So, Australia finds themselves ranked 10th in the world at T20 cricket. The good news is that they are just one win away from ninth position. If Australia beats Pakistan in the final match of their series, they move back up to ninth, just behind Bangladesh. If they lose, never mind – Zimbabwe is out of reach in the cellar.