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Posts Tagged ‘twenty20’

With the Twenty20 Champions League now down to the last four, who’s going to win the thing?

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There’s been plenty of talk in recent months of the rise of the freelance cricketer, with first Andrew Symonds, then Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff being linked with the idea. Now it seems that the latter is set to lead the way, having turned down an ECB contract in favour of what some might call a mercenary existance.

On his official website, Flintoff has said that “I said when I retired from Test cricket that my ambition was to become the best one-day and Twenty20 player in the world and playing in all these different countries can only help”, keeping mention of the potential millions on offer if he plays for six teams on five continents as it has been suggested he might.

Just in case the IPL millions don’t quite cover Freddie’s bar bill, though, he is also set to take on a second job commentating for Eurosport on the Twenty20 Champions League next month. The retirement fund seems to be coming along nicely, although it remains to be seen whether Flintoff’s popularity with England fans takes a knock from this news.

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The Twenty20 reaches its conclusion this weekend with the now traditional Finals Day. This year will be the last season of the current format, and will also see the first qualifiers decided for the Champions League after last year’s cancellation.

As well as the exciting prospect of the mascot race being commentated on by Phil Tufnell, the cricket should be of a high standard, with four good sides involved:

  • Somerset, like Kent, are former winners, and the quality of their top order (Trescothick, Langer, Kieswetter…) is beyond question. The bowling is not quite as strong, but if the batsmen make a big enough score that won’t matter too much, and the experience of the older heads will be priceless in the field.
  • Sussex may be missing Matt Prior for Finals Day, but they have quality bowlers in Yasir Arafat and James Kirtley, whilst Luke Wright can make an impact with bat or ball (or both). Defeat in the Friends Provident Trophy final may have sharpened their hunger for success, but Murray Goodwin will need to regain his form if they are to lift the trophy.

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Dutch cricket has had quite a summer – as England can attest – but it will no longer be able to rely on the services of ‘Don’t Call Him Dirty’ Dirk Nannes, who has been called up by Australia (at last) for the Twenty20 internationals at Old Trafford that will follow the Ashes. Although Nannes‘ appearances for the Netherlands do not preclude him from playing for Australia, were he to play for the latter it would mean he was ineligible to play for the ‘minnows’ again for at least four years (by which time he would be 37).

There may be some consolation for Dutch cricket fans in reports that their side may be included in the One-Day competition that the ECB are planning to replace the current Friends Provident Trophy with in their (relative) shake-up of county cricket. Given that Ireland and Scotland have had an involvement in the FPT for some time, this is likely to be welcomed as an opportunity for Dutch players to gain experience against a higher quality of opposition than it the case at the moment.

If that’s not enough to console Dutch fans, they can perhaps take some comfort in the fact that Nannes’ selection for the Aussies has brought pleasure to others

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The American Premier League seems to have run into difficulties (and not just because of its shocking website), but any American-based Twenty20 fans need not despair, for the USACA (the USA Cricket Association, the official body in the States which is affiliated to the ICC) has put out a Request for Proposals from interested parties to set up a ‘USA Premier League’ Twenty20 franchise competition.

According to ESPN, the league would start in 2011, and it would certainly chime with the ICC’s plan to get the USA involved in Twenty20 cricket (as seen in the recent decision to fast-track the US side into the next round of World Twenty20 qualifiers). Whether or not ‘mainstream’ American sports fans would be interested in cricket is unclear, but the number of expatriate Indian, Pakistani and even English cricket fans based in the USA might mean that there is sufficient support to make the competition a viable prospect for sponsors even without what might be called ‘crossover’ appeal.

Certainly, Twenty20 cricket is the form of the game which would seem best suited to Yankee consumption, at least initially. At least there would be no snide comments about matches last five days and ending in a draw.

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In honour of Umar Gul’s remarkable 5-6 yesterday (youtube here), here are four more of the best-ever T20I bowling performances:

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In case anyone was wondering why it is that Chris Gayle prefers Twenty20 cricket, watch the below, make a mental comparison to his distracted play in the recent Tests against England, and perhaps things will be clearer:

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