Tragic accidents on the field of sport in social media times

One of the things that came out of the attack in London on the Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, March 22, was the tweet by London Metropolitan police asking people to use common sense and restraint in circulating photos and videos of the victims. It sure would have been disrespectful to the victims and their loved ones.

Another incident, this time a funeral of a celebrity parent and the grieving celebrity (Aishwarya Rai Bachhan, ex-miss World, model and actor) were in circulation. Another celebrity sibling took to social media to condemn this. She requested general public to not click and watch the photos. 

On the heels of these two events, one more, sadly followed.  There was no loss of life involved here but tragic nonetheless. While watching the Ireland-Wales FIFA World Cup qualifier on Friday, March 24, during the second half of the match Ireland captain, Seamus Coleman got injured. It was a bad tackle from Wales’ Neil Taylor. The injury was serious.  As is the case with such incidents being replayed while watching on live TV, it was a surprise when the commentator announced that out of respect and considering the grievous nature of the injury they would not show the replays.  To me, this was the most responsible and respectful response on the part of the network. 

This incident also took me back to another incident I witnessed on TV more than a decade ago when I had the privilege to be part of the 15th Asian Games in 2006 in Doha, Qatar. During the Games time (December 1 to December 15) , it was very busy and the Athlete’s Village (AV), which was our workplace, wore a festive look.  There was always that buzz, excitement throughout the AV during that time. From the moment you would clear the security and step into the AV, the festive environment would just pull you in. 

One morning while getting ready to leave for work, on TV, equestrian events were being live broadcasted. I do not follow or understand the sport of equestrian as such but here I had this particular interest because I was the liaison person with the logistics department for the NOCs. I was coordinating the movement of the horses, their passports, quarantine requirements and other such stuff. 

Back to the live equestrian Eventing competition on the TV, the equestrian athletes from participating countries were going through their obstacles and suddenly there was this athlete who fell from his horse while trying to clear one of the obstacles (it was the 8th obstacle).  While he was thrown down his horse fell on him. This was replayed again and again on TV.  I noticed it was a bad fall, but I couldn’t understand the commentary because it was in Arabic.  Only thing that baffled me were the replays. While it was still on, I left for work, thinking about the athlete and his injuries. 

When I arrived at the AV, I could sense something amiss, right from going through the security.  I entered the AV and it was missing its usual buzz and vibrancy.  There was an eerie silence. The AV wore a subdued look. After a ten-minute walk through the AV, I arrived at my desk. On arrival, my first question to my colleague was, “why is it so silent in the AV today?” He was surprised that I did not know the reason. He then told me about the equestrian accident and that the athlete, Kim Hyung Chil of South Korea, had passed away. I was stunned and shocked. 

Earlier in the day what I was watching I didn’t realize at the time was someone in their last moments.  There was that immense feeling of sadness about the loss of life and secondly that immense distress for watching that incident.  I just got that gut wrenching feeling and it was difficult to shake it out. 

Fast forward to 2017 to that Ireland-Wales match that I mentioned earlier in the article. The TV network decided not to replay the horrific tackle and injury to Coleman. My mind travelled back to the Doha incident and I now appreciated the network’s stance not to replay Coleman’s injury incident. 

However, that relief I felt, was short lived.  I saw Coleman trending on Twitter.  The videos and photos of that tackle by Taylor on Coleman was all over the social media. No, I didn’t click on any of it and decided to move away from that page. But that was my choice.  Just like it was the choice of many to share the videos and photos. Just like many to click and watch those videos and/or photos of that horrible incident. 

That made me wonder why do we have to record someone’s pain and grief? Why do we chose to watch that content, and especially if it involves a public figure/a celebrity? We live in the times where clicking photos and recording videos/audios are just a tap on handheld devices. I wonder what are we thinking when we record such incidents. And then go and share it on social media platforms. Why does someone’s grief become so palatable?  What makes us so insensitive to someone in pain that we actually want to see it?  For a moment, if we pause and imagine ourselves in that person’s shoes, would we liked to be recorded/photographed in our most vulnerable moment?  I believe the answer would be a safe no, at least for majority of us. 

So how do we stop this? And whether it is even possible to stop it?  Again, it is safe to say that to eradicate this issue is going to be next to impossible. Unless we show some self-restrain ourselves. Would education and awareness around this issue help? Probably.  Maybe introduce the dos and don’ts of social media specifically focusing on the subject of tragic incidents, grief and pain. This education should be for all – for children in school, for students in Universities and for employees at their work places.

While on road, if the intention to record is to gather evidence then by all means record/click photos but then hand it over to the authorities and refrain from sharing it on social media. For all those accidents on the field of sport, let those replays remain away from the fans and into the hands of investigative agencies. So that they can look at accidents in depth and arrive at conclusions to make the sport in question safe for its future participants.  

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Lament of a sport fan

The nightmare becomes a reality. It was expected though.  Last week, FIFA officially expanded its marquee event, the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams.  More the merrier!

While last year, the ICC (International Cricket Council) contracted its World Cup format. Thus, essentially making it difficult for the Associate Members’ teams to be part of the tournament.

FIFA expanding, ICC contracting. Neither warranted. But that would be for another article.

It is bad times to be a fan of sport. Irrespective of which sport or sports one follows.  It is all about money, sponsorships, broadcast rights, and all about those with vested interest and agendas.

Welcome to the world of Sport. Or rather the world of Sport Cash-cow. It is all about business, you moronic sport fan.

Who cares about a sport fan. They will whinge, crib, throw few curses on social media and then get on with what is presented…oops with life.

Take a look at the world of sport. Take a look at the sporting bodies. Any sport. Any sport organizing body.  They all seem to be following a similar pattern.  Especially those sporting bodies who generate a lot of revenue through broadcasting rights, those who are able to attract a lot of sponsors.

Couple of years back, Ed Cumming wrote this in the Daily Telegraph*:

“Fifa and the IOC will never be properly managed, because fans don’t really care. If England win the Qatar World Cup, nobody will give two hoots whether the tournament was built on slave labour and bungs. Even the possibility of winning will be enough to sweep ethical concerns aside as the tournament draws near, while anything short will be treated, as usual, as a national catastrophe.”

But, wait a minute, does a sport fan have any say where FIFA World Cup or Olympics are held? Do they have a vote in the say?  No, absolutely not. It could take place on Venus or Mars, for all we care, if enough money could be thrown around.  

A sport fan does not have a say, does not have a voice.  I know about cricket stadiums with substandard facilities that are deemed fine for those ordinary fans. They’ll flock the stadium, they’ll cheer their team full of superstars. Nobody would give a damn about these ordinary folks: the struggle to reach the venue and then put up with substandard facilities.

And when they are in the stadium, the match could be delayed even in perfect weather conditions and with perfect knowledge of rain in the forecast.  Remember Florida 2016?Don’t bother to inform those in the stadium about the delay. The match starts after a 40 minute delay, the rain arrives as predicted in the forecast, match abandoned, no result. Two match series decided on the result of one match.  

Ah, and the reason of the delay? Unavoidable and technical problems suffered by the broadcasters. Never mind those live souls sitting and waiting patiently in the stadium.  

Everything is decided by how it fits the broadcasters. A match between India and Pakistan women’s cricket teams in 2016 World Cup T20 was hastily wrapped up and result decided in Pakistan women’s team favor. The reason for the rush? Another big match was about to start – the India versus Pakistan, this time the men’s teams facing each other in the group stages of the 2016 T20 World Cup. (Side note: That India and Pakistan have been playing each other regularly in the last few World Tournaments is not accidental – the draws are allegedly “fixed” – all for the benefit of the fans (and of course, all the additional revenue generated by hyping this already over-hyped rivalry.)

Then there are these issues of doping, cheating, match-fixing etc.  For example, the ongoing Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics doping scandal. The results tested in the labs in Russia. All mess. The doping test results from 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics are shedding new light (or dark light should we say?). Some athletes, who, we as sport fans cheered on the podium with the glittering medals around their necks, it seems were not clean. It is just not fair. Not to their fellow athletes and not to the  fans, both in the stadium and those millions watching on TV. They cheated and now we feel cheated. They robbed us and our genuine appreciation of their efforts now feel wasted.

Allow doping, allow cheating. Allow widespread use of TUEs (Therapeutic Use Exemptions)*. Lenient punishments. Allowing athletes to return to their respective sports. What is the deterrent then? The athletes says this to themselves, “We will carry on like this, and reap the rewards. If we are caught, will pay some fine, serve the suspension and then we will be back. Simple.   

(*Here is the link to more on it: https://www.wada-ama.org/en/what-we-do/science-medical/therapeutic-use-exemptions)

What policies are in place to deal with these issues? That we are still dealing with 2008 doping test results make me believe something is seriously wrong here. But, nah, as sport fans we do not have the right to question it.  It is all about winning, it all about sponsors and broadcasters and it all about that important, “face” of the sport.

In short, who cares about ordinary sport fans? Sport fans do not care enough for all those who lost their lives in constructing those stadiums working in extreme heat, dangerous conditions and living in deplorable residential quarters. But who awarded the event to take place in that location in the first place?

Sport fans were not consulted on that. Repeating what I wrote earlier. Sport fans do not have a voice on the choice of location. (Of course, the bidding cities would show the support of its citizens, if that is attributed as voice of the sport fans).

Sport fans do not have a say which countries/cities would have the facilities to test the results of doping.  They do not have a say how these labs functions.

Sport fans do not decide on the format of the tournament including the number of participating teams. They do not decide on group draws, which could also be manipulated.

But yet, all this is done in the name of sport fans. Larger tournament, shorter tournament, traditional rivalries, more development and growth of the game to make it truly global.

And we all know to read between the lines. Or the hidden message behind such rhetorics.

Adding to our woes, we also live in the world of fake news. Deal with media that claims to be impartial but is more often than not biased, and somehow always-have-an-agenda. So while we are presented ‘facts’, it is not necessary we would the know the whole story behind those facts.

RIP Sport Fans.  Long live the World of Sport Business!

*http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/10713932/Damned-if-they-do-and-damned-if-they-dont-no-wonder-sports-associations-are-so-badly-run.html

First Anniversary: Day-Night Test Match:

Day night match
Picturesque

The excitement surrounding the second day-night Test match is missing this time. It is different to what it was last year. Last year the first ever day-night Test match between Australia and New Zealand for the Trans-Tasman trophy was highly anticipated.

The match got many monikers.

Pink ball match or as Jimmy Neesham coined it, instead of red-cherry, it is pink-pomegranate.

First day-night Test match.

Test match under the lights.

There was excitement surrounding this match. There was anxiety surrounding this match.

There was anticipation and hope for what it would do to bring back the dwindling crowd at Test matches to utter disgust to what it would do the most sacrosanct form of the game.

It was a battle between those who were all for embracing change to those who wanted to leave this form of the game untouched.

Traditionalist proclaimed, let us not tamper with the tradition of Test cricket.  I, for one, however, all for tradition, was of the opinion, how about starting a new tradition?  And that is what I believe, this Test match was. Still in its nascent stages, if this version is able to revive interest in the longer version of the game, why not continue with it. And of course, while fully acknowledging that this is still work in progress, keep fine tuning till a near perfect version is achieved.

Reminiscing on the match of last year, the buzz around it was infectious. While, it did have many doubters, there was more positive vibes surrounding the match. (Got to acknowledge the PR work!). And whether you were a supporter or an opposer, everybody still was looking forward to the match. To how the game would pan out. To how the players would approach it. How would it be for the batsmen, for the bowlers and even for the fielders? The pink-pomegranate, of course, was the most talked about both before and after the match.

Once the match began, with the buzz still surrounding the novelty of first ever day-night Test match, the focus shifted entirely towards the game. And rightly so. Because, first and foremost, it was about the game of cricket. Irrespective of whether it was under natural lights or artificial lights.

The match lasted only for three days.  It was a low scoring contest with the pink ball playing its part, especially in that twilight period where it ‘acted’ up. The second innings chase of 187 runs, a tricky total in cricketing terms did test Australian batters who finally managed to win it with three wickets.

Was all the hype surrounding the match warranted? Absolutely. It needed that noise, that-look-at-me-I-am-here, for sure. And definitely, everybody did take notice. Other cricketing boards having been trying to see how it could work out in their respective home conditions. And Pakistan and West Indies played the second day-night Test match in UAE.

Now around the first anniversary we have the second day-night Test match to be held at the same venue, Adelaide Oval, this time between Australia and South Africa.  Sadly, the buzz this time around is not so much around the day-night Test as much as where Australia finds itself in the game. With the series already lost, the battered and bruised Australian team is fighting for pride. On the other hand, South Africa are looking for a back-to-back whitewash, first 5-0 in limited overs at home and now 3-0 in Test matches away from home. Of course, South Africa also would want to prove a point after their captain Faf du Plessis was found guilty of ball tampering.

A controversy that could have been well avoided.

Coming back to the first anniversary of this day-night Test match here are some of my memories…

-Because of the time difference I had to stay up all night to watch the match. Slept on the couch for all the three days. And yes, I did doze off in between!

– Mitchell Santner. The Iceman. As I like to call him.  He’ll be the only cricketer to have made his debut in the inaugural day-night Test match. And what a debut it was!  He looked like a veteran playing in his first Test match. If there were nerves, if there were plenty of butterflies in the stomach, have to give to him, he is a good actor then! Because he didn’t show any.  It was all perfectly normal for him. He had to bat for his team, because his team needed those runs.  And as the cliché goes, more than the runs, it was the manner in which he scored them. Totally unfazed by everything surrounding him. In the low scoring match, he scored in both the innings, with the highest score (45) for NZ in the second innings.

-If one thing that took away from the match it was Nigel Llong’s decision as third umpire and his famous line, “it could have come from anything”. This was in reference to the mark that Hot Spot showed. Nathan Lyon was the batsman and even he had started his walk back to the pavilion when he saw that replay on the big screen. But like a man who is fighting for life in water, clings on to the only lifeline available till on the shores safely, Lyon hanged on this Llong lifeline and batted for 31. Australia were 116/8 and Lyon and Peter Neville partnership of 74 helped them get a slim lead. It definitely was the moment that changed the entire complexion of the match.

-The most disappointing thing about Llong’s decision was that he was using technology to arrive at the decision. And he still got it wrong.

-Some of the photos from this match were indeed very picturesque. So was the almost festival like mood surrounding the match, at least that I what I could sense watching the match on TV. It was a mood of hope, of hope for the future of Test cricket and of connecting with the younger audience.

Day night match 1
Picturesque 1

While Llong’s decision did take some shine away from the first day-night Test match, it still left some wonderful memories. Memories of the crowd thronging in to watch the match. Of the pink ball. Of Kane Williamson unable to spot the seam to Brendon McCullum wondering, seam, what seam? “I don’t even see seam on the red-cherry!” Of Mitchell Starc walking in with his plastered hand to score the winning runs. Of Mitchell Santner and his cool, calm, and collected demeanor.

Let us wait and watch what is in store for the second day-night Test at Adelaide Oval. Will there be the same festive mood that was there last year? Or has the home team’s performance dampen the mood of the public? Will Australia rise from the sweet reverse swing and give something for their fans to cheer ? Or will South Africa prevail to complete the sweet and cool minty white wash?

Cannot wait till for the umpire to say, let’s play gentlemen!

The Schweinsteiger conundrum and some HR perspectives

The Schweinsteiger saga continues. And we do not know how it is going to end. Or if it is going to end anytime soon.

After being on the sideline since Jose Mourinho took over as the manager of Manchester United, Schweinsteiger has fallen out of favor. That is until recently.

Mourinho made it amply clear that Schweinsteiger does not have a place in the first-team. So he was made to train either alone or with the under-23 side.  

While all this was going on, Schweinsteiger remained tight-lipped.  And when he did speak, there was no negativity.  He did admit (and so did Mourinho) that he had a discussion with the manager. That he did not have any problems with the manager. He expressed his wish to still play for the club, if given a chance.    

His conduct amidst all this has been amazing.

He has acted in a dignified manner throughout.

In a manner befitting his stature as World Cup winner, as someone who was the captain of his national team till recently.  

He posts pictures of himself at Man U games. He wishes the team on his social media account on the day they are to play their matches.

The cynic amongst us would say it is all about money. Some on social media did point about the ‘m’ factor, mentioning that it is the only reason Schweinsteiger is hanging around and taking all the humiliation and insults by staying put. Probably, it is about money. However, he still has the contract and he is honoring it.   

While the world of football in a way is different to the corporate world, so the comparison may not exactly apply. But let us try to evaluate it through the HR prism of the corporate world.  Because some of the things still are applicable.  

We are all wondering Schweinsteiger’s reaction to the whole situation. However, his reaction should not surprise us. For those of us in the corporate world, we would know a bit about this.

Firstly, how many times we are told not to bad-mouth our employers, especially during an interview? 

Secondly, would we quit our job if we don’t have another in hand? No, right?  Isn’t he doing the same?

Thirdly, we would want something better than what we are getting. Maybe the scenario would be slightly different in case of a sportsperson. Or in this case with Schweinsteiger considering he is on the other side of 30, plus has been out because of injury and probably not at the top of his game.  Still, he would want to negotiate and get the best deal possible, with whatever he has to offer in terms of his experience, both as a player and a leader.  

We do not know the details of his contract. However, it is no-win situation for him and even for the club.

In short, Schweinsteiger is doing what most of us would do in our jobs:

Honor the current contract.

Find another job before quitting the current job, and if possible with better terms and conditions.

Do not bad mouth your current/former employer to your new employer (for Schweinsteiger this could be more than one club/employer).

Continue to maintain good relations with everyone around. After all the football world is small. He could end up working with some of the folks from Man U down the road.

Most importantly, he has remain positive throughout. His positive attitude is really admirable. There is no negativity or bitterness shown by him, at least not publicly. Not yet.  

And this is good. Because, in the long run, talent aside, it is your attitude that is going to keep you in good stead.  

Women’s T20 World Cup

2016_ICC_World_Twenty20_logo

Was it a good idea to host the Women’s T20WC along with the men’s? From the response it got, yes. To begin with, logistically it made sense. Plus, definitely it did give the exposure the women’s game has been lacking. Though the crowd did not show up in great numbers, though the TV viewership may not have garnered the huge viewership, and though it still was not in the front on cricket pages/web pages, it still did manage to have regular updates.

There was far more buzz in the media about the women’s matches and women’s cricketers profiles, interviews and backstories started doing rounds on cricket websites. And of course, it did help that the official social media sites for most of the countries provided updates for both their men’s and women’s teams.  

And finally, not taking anything away from Australia or any other teams, it did help that West Indies women won the title. It was a double delight because their men’s team also lifted the title. Again the exposure that it got only helped put the women cricketers on the cricketing map. That they are here to stay.    

Apart from the exposure, the most important thing was that the women put on some great cricket. There were some closely fought matches, mainly involving Charlotte Edward led England team, which made for good viewing on TV. With the success of women in the Big Bash League and now the launch of Kia Super League in England, women’s cricket is up and rising. Encouraging signs for IPL and CPL to follow suit next year?  

Hopefully in the next few years, women’s game would get its own viewership and then it may be possible to organize women’s World Cup separately. The only reason it was not a good idea to have it joint with the men’s, was because of course, the men did overshadow the women.  Maybe the comparison with men’s game would have made it less appealing.  Because, unlike tennis or soccer, women’s game still has to find its footing in cricket.

People are talking about how the boundaries are brought in, the lack of sixes in women’s matches, making it less attractive on excitement quotient. Addressing the latter point, we did see some big sixes from players like Ellyse Perry and Haley Mathews. However, time has to be given to women’s cricketers to further develop their hitting powers. The T20 leagues like WBBL, Kia Super League is going to help them hone their six hitting powers. The audacious hitting we see in the men’s game is a result of T20 cricket and the various leagues across the globe which is now a regular fixture for almost a decade now.

Let’s give the girls the time and they’ll also demonstrate their six hitting powers.

Moments from the tournament

  1. Last over wins: England women perfected the art of winning matches in the last over, in fact they won one match on the last ball – against the West Indies women who of course, went on to lift the title.  Sadly this match was not on the TV.  
  2. Wake up call: Southern Stars versus White Ferns. This was a much anticipated match for the women’s tournament. However, it turned out to be one-sided affair.  White Ferns steamrolled Southern Stars and went on to win the match in the 17 over by 6 wickets.  
  3. Tour of India: Full credit to the White Ferns who were made to travel for 12 hours, a day before their match against Southern Stars. Even though they were tired and exhausted, they did not complain, kept posting pics on social media sites and no,we did not see any grumpy faces. In fact, captain Suzie Bates mentioned in her post-match interview that the girls looked at the funny side of it.  No wonder, this attitude did help them win the match comfortably.
  4. No home advantage: India women did not set the tournament on fire. Apart from that huge win against Bangladesh, they lost to Pakistan on D/L method and then lost to England in a closely fought match.They were ultimately beaten comprehensively by title winner West Indies. The team was inconsistent and found it difficult to adapt even on home conditions.
  5. Young star: Hayley Mathews. All of 18. A World Champion. She powered her way to 66 off 45 balls with 6 fours and 3 huge sixes. Basically her opening partnership of 120 with skipper Stafanie Taylor helped West Indies women chase down the total with ease.  And she was the senior partner in that partnership as far as run making was concerned. She was unfazed by the situation, the opposition (reigning World champion Australia gunning for their fourth straight title) or the pressure of the chase.  Power of youth. Power of playing without any fear.  However, it would be interesting to see how her career shapes from hereon.  
  6. The still shining star: Who else but Charlotte Edwards. The England skipper has been around for almost 2 decades now and still does not show any signs of slowing down. Carry on Charlotte, you still have a lot to offer to the game.  
  7. Speed breaker: The White Ferns were on a roll in the group stage. They had a comfortable run in the tournament beating all the teams in a comprehensive manner. Knockout stage. One game. And they are knocked out. By West Indies. It was a closely fought match but New Zealand women hit the speed breaker and were thrown out of the tournament.  

20 Moments of WT20

 

2016_ICC_World_Twenty20_logo1. Atrocious shot of the Tournament

Steve Smith’s shot against Pakistan. Glen Maxwell had a good laugh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgKY6szta-0

2. Bizarre Moment of the tournament

Wahab Riaz, what were you thinking when you followed Steve Smith?

3. Intent shot: Martin Guptill’s six off the first ball to launch the Super 10 stage of the tournament.

4. The last over

We have two contenders here. Both very obvious. But the one that led to the title takes the honor first.

1. England vs West Indies, Finals

19 off 6 balls.

6, 6, 6, 6

Done.

Not a sweat to break.

Carlos Brathwaite takes Ben Stokes to cleaners.  

What was all the fuss about?  

2. Bangladesh vs India, group stage

11 off 6 balls. Target for Bangladesh

First ball – 1

Second ball – 4

Third ball – 4

Fourth ball – caught in the deep; OUT

Fifth ball – almost action replay; caught in the deep; OUT

Sixth ball – run for a single; non-striker and wicketkeeper in a race of their lives, both trying to reach the same finish line albeit from different directions; wicketkeeper wins, whips off the bails. Bangladesh lose the match by 1 run.  

5. Super over: Not a single tie in the whole tournament. There were few matches which had the potential to end in a tie resulting in super over. But it never materialized. Though there were lot of matches that were decided in the last over.

6. Shock of the tournament

Associate Nations’ Qualifying round: Oman defeating Ireland. And Ireland never recovered from this defeat. Their next game against Bangladesh was washed out. One more against Netherlands was also affected by rain, reduced to 6 overs-a-side. Ireland lost this match as well.

Super 10 round: The tournament opener.  Nobody gave New Zealand a chance against host India. On a turning Nagpur track, New Zealand scored 126/7 in 20 overs. In the innings break NZ were thought to be done and dusted.  What unfolded left everyone shell-shocked. Maybe not the Black Caps.  They had the belief in themselves thus they went with three spinners leaving out their best bowlers.  

7. Tourists of the Tournament: Trent Boult and Tim Southee. They traveled all the way from New Zealand and then they traveled with the team all around India. Nagpur to Dharamsala to Mohali to Kolkata to Delhi.  But they did not play a single match.  

8. Tour of India in 12 hours: White Ferns. From Mohali to Nagpur it took them ONLY 12 hours hopping planes and airports. Mohali-Delhi-Bengaluru-Mumbai-Nagpur. And arrived in Nagpur late in the evening and had a match next day in the afternoon. And no, they didn’t complain about it, but rather joked about it and took it in their stride. Result of the match: They beat Southern Stars by 6 wickets with more than 3 overs in hand.

9. Most expressive Captain: Steve Smith. Looking at him one could tell exactly the state of his side at any given point in the game.

10. Best grooves and moves: Afghanistan, the hip bumps between Mohammad Shahzad and Sami Shenwari were amazing.

11. Best celebrations: Champion! Champion! Champion! Period.

12. Underachiever(s) of the Tournament: Two contenders. Both came to the tournament with favorites tag of 1 and 2. Both fizzled out. I am referring to India and South Africa here.

13. Lost contact details: Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock. Last two group matches that South Africa played, their calling was bizarre and absurd. Against West Indies in Nagpur, Amla was the victim; against Sri Lanka in Delhi, de Kock was the victim.

14. Fizzled fireworks: AB de Villiers. Just blasted once and then it was gone.

15. Speeches

We witnessed some passionate speeches by Associate captains and later the winning captain.  The platform was right and they articulated their point of view perfectly. It is alright that they were heard. Question is, will something be done about the pertinent issues they raised? Are the governing bodies, ICC and WICB willing to sit down and discuss things? Everyone is aware of the problems, time to find solutions and most importantly implement it.   

  1. The passionate pleading/imploring speech

By Associate captains, especially Scotland (Preston Mommsen) and Netherlands (Peter Borren) captains. The issue (of lack of cricket for Associate Nations) has to be kept alive. They got the platform and they made their point very well. But it also needs to have a follow-up. Or else we will be still talking about the same thing four years later. Yes, four years, because that is when the next world T20 is scheduled for now unlike the two years we have seen so far.

  1. Impolitic Speech

Time for Darren Sammy to address the distractors. Address those who put his team down. Address the issues that the players have long been facing with its board. He walked through it all step-by-step. The speech though impromptu definitely must have played in his mind for long. He and his team wanted to answer the critics first with their on-field performance though. And the team lifting the title gave them the right ammunition.  Nothing wrong with it.  Hope those in power are going to sit down with the players and address the issues. They are champions in T20. However, let’s not sidestep the issue of their performance in the longer version of the game. Unless, of course, the longer version does not come into equation. Now, that is altogether a new article for debate.

16. Darlings of the crowd (not taking the home team into account): AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle.

17. The No-ball: R.Ashwin. Lendl Simmons was on 19 and went on to score unbeaten 82.  Seal the match for West Indies.

18. Underdogs: Nobody gave Sri Lanka any chance before the tournament. And they performed as expected. Like underdogs. What was sad to see was that they did not even put up a fight. Except perhaps briefly against England.  We are told they are in rebuilding phase since the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. These two giants retired from T20 in 2014 immediately after Sri Lanka won the T20 World Cup title. 

19. Can’t crack the code: Australia are number one ranked Test team. They are World Champions in 50 overs cricket. But T20 title still eludes them. This time again they were knocked out in group stages. They did not seem to get their XI right.  They started with a new captain in this format and the captain from whom Steve Smith took over, Aaron Finch, who also is ranked number one T20 batsman did not find place in the first two matches that Australia played.

20. Consistency or chokers? There are two ways to look at the New Zealand side. The optimist would look at it as glass full: they reach the knockout stages in both 50 overs and T20 World Cups more often than not. The pessimist (or realist) would look at it as glass not-so-full: they seem to lose in the semifinals almost all the time.  Just like South Africa they too seem to struggle to cross that line and lift the title.

T20 WC 2016 Finals Super 10

 

2016_ICC_World_Twenty20_logo

West Indies Day!  

Southern Stars march halted

England washed away in shower of 6s

All the pre-tournament talks of favorites or not favorites not does not matter. Not on the day of the finals. While Southern Stars were definitely on the list of favorites, their opponents were not. And definitely the two teams in the men’s finals were not on anybody’s list. In fact, in subcontinental conditions, only one team from the subcontinent reached the knockout stages and that too rather unconvincingly.  

While I didn’t get the opportunity to watch the women’s finals live, I did catch up the highlights. Wish the time difference was not there. Or else would have got to watch the whole match live.  

  • Australia or Southern Stars entered the finals as defending champions. In fact, they had three T20 world titles in a row under their belt. They were going for the fourth title.  
  • West Indies women though had other plans.  
  • Southern Stars had one poor match against NZ’s White Ferns at Nagpur and West Indies women had lost a closely fought game against Charlotte Edwards’ England, losing on the last ball at Dharamsala.  
  • So both teams were going into the finals with overall good performance and form of their players.  
  • Meg Lanning won the toss and elected to bat.  Lanning and Elyse Villani both scored half centuries, in fact identical scores of 52 a piece.
  • Then Ellyse Perry played a cameo innings of 28 hitting two sixes. One was a huge hit of almost 78 meters.  
  • While Lanning and Villani were at the crease, it definitely looked as if the score would be around 160 plus.
  • However, West Indies women pulled back beautifully and the last over by Deandra Dottin yielded only 1 run. Oh, Ben Stokes would have so loved to have bowled this type of over.
  • A score of 149 would have looked a bit daunting considering the scores that we saw so far in the tournament. But West Indies women had other plans.
  • They were on a mission to win their maiden title.  
  • The opening partnership between captain Stafanie Taylor and teenager Haley Mathews got them to a flying start. They put on a 120 run together in 15.4 overs.
  • This partnership more or less sealed the title for West Indies women.  
  • They did lose couple of quick wickets, with both Mathews and Taylor back in the dugout but by then the damage was already done.  
  • Mathews in particular was in a brutal mood. She hit six fours and three sixes in her knock of 66 off 45 balls. And her sixes were huge. One was 82 meters and it landed in the stands.  Just give the girls some time and we will get to see the sixes landing in the stands more often.  
  • Could the Southern Stars have done something differently? They were good in the field, they mostly are. But against the rampaging West Indies attack there was not much their bowlers could have done.  
  • Lanning did accept the fact that they were about 15-20 runs short.  
  • While the Southern Stars were batting the stands were almost empty barring few supporters around. But when the West Indies women were in their chase, people started trickling in.  It did seem as if this people would have walked in early for the men’s finals later in the evening at the same venue.  Whatever it was, it definitely was nice to see more people in the stands, the cheers were a welcome sign. Hopefully, they would have enjoyed what they saw and would come to cheer for the girls in the future.  
  • It was amazing to see the WI’s men’s team come out and celebrate with their women’s counterpart even though they had to play the all important final within couple of hours.  
  • Nobody expected England and West Indies to be in the finals. But here they were.
  • Nobody expected the crowd to turn out because India was not in the finals. But they were there. In a large number.
  • Even though West Indies had more supporters in the crowd, the neutral crowd still was cheering the fours and sixes by English batsmen. They were enjoying and appreciating the batsmanship of Joe Root.  
  • England got off to a nervy start to their innings once they were put into bat by Darren Sammy. They lost Jason Roy on the 2nd ball of the match and quickly lost two more wickets.
  • Jos Buttler and Root started the rebuilding and their partnership gave England some respectable total to defend.
  • And they did defend well. Throughout the 2nd innings. Till that fateful last over. The over that snatched the title away from them.
  • Last over. 19 runs. Most of the time the fielding team would back itself to defend that.
  • But Carlos Brathwaite had other plans. He kept it simple. There was no need to keep the calculator out to count the balls and number of runs.  
  • First three balls he faced went for maximum.  6, 6, 6. 18 runs in 3 balls. Scores leveled. Even if WI does not get a single run in the last three balls we would have got the first super over of the tournament.  
  • But Brathwaite again kept it simple.  Last ball also went for maximum. West Indies once again lift the T20 WC trophy after that win in 2012 in Sri Lanka.  
  • The celebrations that followed were unbelievable or rather more than believable. Throughout the tournament we saw the team celebrating wickets and team wins with the Champion dance.  And this win was no different.  
  • Champion dance by world champions! And this time the women’s team joined them. 
  • It was West Indies day at Eden Gardens!
  • And of course, the great Curtly Ambrose reminded everyone about the three titles in West Indies kitty – under-19, and then senior women’s and men’s title win.
  • Finally the West Indies captain got a chance to speak his mind. Like those Associate team captains who passionately pleaded for more games, Sammy spoke for his players, put forward their views. He had every right to voice his concerns on this platform. After all the players had performed irrespective of all the off field issues..  
  • Player of the match, Marlon Samuels too had few things to say – he did take a dig at Shane Warne and later at Ben Stokes.
  • It appeared that all the pent up feelings the team had, all the negative press that was thrown at them, they let their performance speak. WI men’s team clearly enjoy this format of the game, it suits their style of play and they have embraced it with open arms. And most importantly they are producing the required results.   
  • It was a joy to see them celebrate, their celebrations are infectious. Except not a big fan of that ‘shirt removal’ celebrations.  
  • The DJ did pull out some old numbers. The one I managed to catch was Oye, Oye, Oye, Owa!
  • What was good about the presentation was, the presentation party was small. Well, small compared to what we usually get to see in the subcontinent. Where many egos have to be pampered from politicians, to other public figures and any other folks with self importance. So thus we had medals for match officials, medals for two teams, and three other trophies: player of the match, player of the tournament (Virat Kohli, absent) and the winners’ trophy.   
  • And thus ended the tournament.  With many a reputation build and many shattered. With hopes for the future and with dreams shattered.  With opportunities created and opportunities missed.  
  • See you again in four years time. Yes, now T20 WC is going to be held every four years, just like the 50-overs WC.