The unpredictability of cricketPeter McGlashan |
not predictable; not to be foreseen or foretold: an unpredictable occurrence.
Life is, T20 is, cricket is, the weather is, Pakistan are, and the Blackcaps are, all very unpredictable.
Life due to variables.
T20 due to rules.
Cricket due to pitches.
Weather due to climate change, Pakistan due to team disruptions and the Blackcaps due to population, or lack of it.
Only a few weeks ago I thought my international career was over, that I’d been cast aside, and that I had missed my opportunity to prove I was good enough to perform on the international stage. Then things changed, I got another chance, and life showed how unpredictable it is.
The Blackcaps put in two great performances in the first two T20 internationals against Pakistan. The batting unit fired and we saw the true potential from some fringe players who stood up and showed they could make it at the next level.
With Brendon McCullum and Dan Vettori sitting out the series, and Ross Taylor playing a supporting role rather than lead part, the signs were there that this side could compete without it’s rockstars.
While Pakistan are experiencing their own internal difficulties, the side did include several world class match winners including talisman Shahid Afridi, rockstar Shoaib Akhtar, death bowling expert Umar Gul and future star Umar Akmal.
Enough talent that, on it’s day could tip over the worlds best.
It was less than two years ago that this same core of players carried the team to the ICC T20 World Cup final, before they went on to beat a well-fancied Sri Lankan side, and claim the World title.
It was at this tournament that I last faced Umar Gul. The records from that encounter would state that he had it all his own way. His 5-6 off 3 overs still is the best bowling figures in international T20 cricket.
For this reason I took great pleasure in coming out on top of our battle at Seddon Park last week. The last time I tried a paddle sweep against him I was out LBW so you can imagine my elation when I got the first ball of his third over away passed fine leg for four. Little did I know the fireworks that would follow and the purple patch I found myself in for that over. It was a one off where a few crazy shots came good but I felt like I had had my revenge. You can watch it here:
Pakistan then got revenge.
The unpredictable side of talented individuals, owned the third T20 in Christchurch, scoring at will in the closing overs of their innings before unleashing a ferocious attack on the Blackcaps batsman. Sure, there were a few rash shots, and an erroneous runout, but their tight aggressive bowling meant not only were we losing resources, but the task for incoming batsman was becoming exponentially difficult.
T20 can do that sometimes, because the game is so short, there is no time to rebuild. If the proverbial hits the fan, you need to carry on with the same bravado you would if you hadn’t lost a wicket, otherwise the run-rate just gets away from you.
When I came in to bat the other night the score was 11-5 in the 5th over, we already needed over 11 runs an over. I was faced with the dilemma of digging in and trying to salvage some pride and get some respectability, but accept that we would fall short of the target; or take some risks to try and maintain the required rate, knowing that would increase the chances of me getting out, further adding to our woes.
Scotty Styris and I had been in a similar position before, in a warmup game, before the T20 World Cup in 2009. Against Australia I walked out to bat with the score at 21-5 in the 6th over, and Styris at the other end. We had a similar discussion except then, because we were batting first we took the attitude of just getting whatever we could. I ended up with 49, Scotty 42 and we made it to 147.
This time though, because we were chasing, there was always a required rate. The approach of, “we’ll get what we can” wouldn’t cut it this time round.
We got rolled. All out for 80. A hollow way to finish the series but let’s not forget it was won 2-1 by the Black caps. The Test and One Day series are to follow.
Who knows what will happen.