Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Bloodbath at New Wanderers, what next Mr Speed?

(Gayle sets butcher-the-bowler trend)

It’s not often that you feel sad when your predictions come true. Same must be the case with those who prophesied World Twenty20 would be a bloodbath of the bowlers. ICC’s version of ethnic cleansing kicked off at the New Wanderers, Johannesburg and the results are appalling.

Consider this, 36 fours and 18 sixes—Chris Gayle contributing 10 alone – and this was just the first match of the tournament! In stark contrast, only eight wickets fell. Now if the tribe of bowlers feels like being subjected to something like a state-sponsored terrorism, they can’t be blamed.

The scorecard of the West Indies-South Africa tie was an eye-opener. The strike rate gives you a better idea of the mass slaughter. Of the 12 batsmen who wielded the willow in the match, only one – Dwayne Smith, who scored one run off four balls and is reportedly looking for a counselor to talk him out of depression – had a strike rate below 100. Dwayne Bravo didn’t get a chance to face a ball and remained not out on zero.

Gayle, first centurion in T20 internationals, leads the strike rate chart for his side with 205.26, while Dwayne Smith (102.94), Marlon Samuels (150), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (110), Ramnaresh Sarwan (150) and Denesh Ramdin (150) also went hard after the bowlers.

For South Africa, Justin Kemp (209.09) tops the table, while Graeme Smith (133.33), Herschelle Gibbs (163.63), architect of the win with a 55-ball knock of 90, and AB de Villiers (177.77) used the long handle to deadly effect.

In contrast, the economy rates of the bowlers can melt any heart of stone. South African Makhaya Ntini, number one in ICC rankings till the other day, was not allowed to bowl his full quota of four over after conceding 19 runs in his first two overs. Shaun Pollock (4-0-52-1) got a sound thrashing, even though it was Graeme Smith and Albie Morkel who bore the brunt of the Gayle-storm, going wicketless and conceding 16 runs of their only over.

Among the West Indians, Fidel Edwards managed an economy rate of seven for his three overs which also fetched him a wicket. Daren Powell (8.5) was the other bowler to manage an under-10 economy rate.

But life was miserable for Ravi Rampal (13), Dwayne Smith (18.50), Dwayne Bravo (14.62) and Samuels (10.50) and their nightmares would feature Gibbs and Kemp in lead roles.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed’s optimism bordered on insanity when he opined that bowlers would have a crucial role to play in this crash, bang and wallop format. Now if playing the cannon-fodder means crucial in his dictionary, one has no case to go carping about.

Image: Getty Images

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