Emerging talents, a new complexion to squads, changed batting approaches and reinvented bowling plans are all things to look forward to when the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is around the corner.
This time around, the gap between two editions have been the shortest in the tournament’s history. Less than a year after Australian men were crowned champions of this event for the first time, they are to begin their title defence at home. With such short turnaround between the two tournaments, the game itself has not moved too far ahead as perhaps in previous years. But, on the flip side, the conditions are likely to be quite different as the tournament comes Down Under for the first time and that could make for a very different World Cup compared to last time around.
The first round that saw Sri Lanka, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Netherlands eventually become successful in their bid to seal a spot in the Super 12 has already primed the contest well.
Based on that evidence, the possibilities that await and the potentially egalitarian contest between the bat and the ball between quality sides during the rest of the tournament that will be held across seven locations in Australia is sure to provide much more to look forward to.
Here’s a look at what to watch out for during as Super 12 action gets underway at ICC Men’s T20 World Cup:
The new playing conditions
On October 1, a number of modifications to the Playing Conditions were made official by the ICC. These tweaks might become match-defining and deciding moments in a format that thrives on narrow margins.
Previously, if the batters crossed before a catch was made, the next batter would be at the non-end striker’s and the set batter could face the next ball. According to the new modification, whether or not the batters crossed before the catch was made, if a batter is out caught, the next batter enters at the end where the striker was. In matches that go down to the wire, this change could prove to be crucial from the point of view of a batter in form not getting to face an important delivery.
Then, to the topic that refuses to die down. ‘Running out of the non-striker’ has been moved from unfair play to run out, as it should be. But it is still unquestionably the most debated aspect in recent weeks. A number of England men’s players have stated they won’t attempt the dismissal in light of the controversy surrounding Deepti Sharma’s run out of Charlie Dean during India’s visit of England last month, which has brought further attention to the law. Then, Mitchell Starc’s ‘warning’ to Jos Buttler during the third T20I between Australia and England and his demand for a short-run penalty if non-striker strays out of crease further fuelled the issue.
Additionally, a journalist asked some of the captains during the media interaction ahead of the T20 World Cup, calling for a show of hands as to who would attempt such run-out. Eight of the captains kept mum. Will bowlers still have their opinions about this, will they dare to do it even if a captain doesn’t necessarily feel so and will the batters remain far more cautious now? The World Cup could provide some answers. Watch out, in more ways than one.
The other significant change that was brought in January 2022 is regarding the over rate. The one that demands that an additional fielder be brought inside the fielding circle for the remaining overs of the innings if a fielding team fails to complete its overs by the scheduled cessation time. This rule saw an evident impact in the Asia Cup.
While teams are still getting used to the new modifications, there are opportunities aplenty now.
Australian conditions and ground dimensions
Indian skipper Rohit Sharma, off-spinner R Ashwin, Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood are among the many who have talked about the Australian conditions and dimensions of the venue. While the context these terms were used in varies, largely conditions in a host country that offer the possibility of spicing up the game or levelling the playing field are always a welcome change. The shortest format of the game is already brutal on the bowlers and both Ashwin and Hazlewood seem to be positive about bowling in these conditions because the bigger ground dimensions and pitches that assist bowlers, offer a respite to them.
In fact, unlike the conditions in UAE that saw toss play a big factor in who holds the advantage, the group stages already presented the possibility of the toss playing a much less significant role in deciding the winner of the match.
Defending champions Australia
They won it in unfavourable conditions in UAE last year and so that has given them a confidence to strengthen their bid this time around too. Going in with a settled squad with just two changes in the lineup that won in 2021 and in conditions that they know like the back of their hands, with a vociferous home crowd, Australia are well and truly favourites to win the title. Or at least, Jos Butter thinks so.
The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup title has never been defended till date. It has also never been won by the host nation. (Both have been done in the women’s tournament).
They start their campaign having just lost a 2-0 series against England and captain Aaron Finch admitting they were “tired” after a long preparation. But with the advantage of being the only T20 global champions who may attempt to defend their title at home, Australia possess a fantastic chance to make history by winning the tournament back-to-back.
India and T20 Cricket
For a team that won the first T20 World Cup, when no one quite knew what to expect or what to really make of this format, the lack of trophies in this tournament since then is an awkward situation India find themselves in.
It makes for an even bigger pressure situation because not many countries can boast having the resources India does and no country can boast success out of T20 leagues the way the Indian Premier League can. In a nutshell, India were top of the world when they had nothing, but since they have had men’s IPL and everything that has brought with it, they have nothing to show for it at the format’s biggest international event.
However, with Rohit Sharma, the man with the most IPL trophies now appointed as captain of the side (having led Mumbai Indians who are T20 mavericks of sorts), India are going in to Australia 2022 with belief. Rahul Dravid and Rohit have both emphasized the role of playing a more fearless, aggressive brand of cricket in this format and it has reaped results in bilaterals, especially on the batting front. But it is the ICC events that are proving to be the team’s nemesis. India crashed out of the tournament early and in disappointing fashion in 2021, can they turn it around in 2022?