T20 World Cup - Looking back at the first week

cricket10 June 2024 11:09
By:Neil Manthorp
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David Miller © Gallo Images

Twenty teams in seven countries across nine venues was the greatest logistical undertaking in ICC history for the 2024 T20 World Cup so, it’s understandable if you’re struggling to keep up. Especially with an eight-hour difference between the start times for the first and last match on a given day.

Nonetheless, it has produced some riveting matches with two Super Over finishes and many more finishing in the last over or two.

The format – four groups of five teams – was supposed to erase the possibility of elimination of the ‘big’ teams before the Super Eight section of the tournament for which the top two teams in each group qualify. But two shocks seem likely after eight days with Scotland and the USA looking likely to remain in the competition at the expense of defending champions England and Pakistan respectively.

Here’s a recap of the first eight days:

Top player: David Wiese. The former Proteas allrounder bowled the final over for Namibia to dismiss Oman for 109 and was batting at the crease when his team could only match the score. He smashed 13* from three balls in the Super Over as Namibia racked up 21 and then bowled Namibia’s Super Over for the win. T20 cricket isn’t a one-man show but sometimes…

Top bowler: Jasprit Bumrah. Absolutely imperious against Pakistan. Claimed the key wicket of captain Babar Azam in his first spell and, with the game finely balanced, bowled top-scorer Mohammad Rizwan (31) with the first ball of his second spell and finished with 4-0-14-3 as India scraped home by six-runs.

Top batter: Co-hosts USA need to beat Ireland to be sure of qualifying for the Super Eights but they may still get there even if they lose and it’s thanks largely to Aaron Jones who smashed 94 off just 40 balls against Canada in the tournament’s opening game and then 36* off 26 as the US matched Pakistan’s 159. He then whacked another 11 in the victorious Super Over.

Outstanding team: Yeh, yeh, Australia. Efficient demolition of Oman and even more clinical against England winning by 36-runs. But actually, the team of the first week has been Scotland. They smashed 90-0 in 10 overs against England before rain intervened, beat Namibia comfortably five five-wickets and then crushed Oman by seven-wickets with 41 balls to spare. They have one foot firmly planted in the Super Eights.

Top SA player: David Miller. But seeing as he already has an award, let’s go for Anrich Nortje and Ottneil Baartman who have astonishing analyses after two games. Nortje’s reads 8-0-26-6 while Baartman’s is 8-1-20-5.

Best match: Namibia v Oman. 109 plays 109 and results in a Super Over. They may not be the most talented teams in the tournament but this was a proper, fiercely contested match

Best individual performance: In between being bowled out for 58 and 39 by by Afghanistan and the West Indies, Uganda managed to sneak a cheeky victory by three-wickets against Papua New Guinea during which their 43-year-old spinner, Frank Nsubuga, produced figures of 4-2-4-2. Records are set to be broken but, this T20 World Cup is set in stone, forever.

Top Talking Point: The drop-in pitches and outfield at the Nassau County Stadium on Long Island. Pitch-talk is boring enough without further chatter about the importance of attracting a ‘new audience’ with lots of sixes. It’s nonsense. Sports-inclined people recognise the tension of a contest. Many first-timers were thrilled by South Africa’s crawl over the line against the Netherlands. Conditions aren’t ideal but the entertainment has been fantastic.

Quote of the week: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you don’t need 20 sixes in a match for it to be entertaining. Sometimes the bowlers are allowed to have conditions in their favour, and maybe watching wickets fall is also entertaining.” – Anrich Nortje.

What to look out for: Scotland and Australia ‘colluding’ to eliminate defending champions, England. Really? In theory it could happen. Even if England beat Namibia and Oman heavily in their final two matches, they probably won’t match Scotland’s current, runaway net run-rate. Which means they could lose their final match against Australia and still qualify ahead of England for the Super Eights.