Some people say T20 is not cricket, it’s entertainment. It’s not a distinction that my family is wont to make or one I am prepared to spend any energy on challenging either.
We watch T20 cricket and have great fun doing so.
The Daren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia. Game Two between West Indies and Australia in the five-match T20I series.
Australia are staring down the barrel of a gun. Not a pistol, a bazooka! Already 0-1 down in the five-match T20 series, they have to get almost 200 runs. And Matthew Wade, one of their barnstormers, has already departed but they have not even got to 25 yet.
Fidel Edwards bowls a slower ball to Aaron Finch.
Five. That is how many shots the Australian captain plays—before the ball arrives! When it finally does, Finch fails to make contact with his sixth attempt, The ball cannons into his pads and ricochets on to his stumps.
His face wreathed in smiles, Edwards sprints in the direction of Dwayne Bravo.
“Oh gooooood!” comments the missus, “He smile so broad, he might spit in he two ears at the same time.”
It’s true. For bowlers, after all, there is nothing so funny as when you set out to fool a batsman and he obliges by making a fool of himself. But funny, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
And like the old queen, Finch, a Victorian, is not amused.
Nor was Ashton Agar later, at 113 for 7.
Tucking a ball from Hayden Walsh Jr off his hip, he makes a Usain Boltesque 22-yard dash for the other end. Well, maybe an Ato Boldonesque dash because he crosses the line well after the ball has reached wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran at the far end and, the photo finish camera shows, one thousandth of a second after his partner.
At 38, Dan Christian had clearly decided that a 22-yard Saturday evening sprint was not his cup of tea so he had changed his mind about taking the run and gone into reverse gear after two yards—if that many!
So for Agar, not gold, not silver but bronze!
“Isn’t it kinda funny,” I asked out loud, “to see two big hard-back men standing up near the stumps at the bowler’s end glaring at each other and saying to one another, ‘You out, boy. Walk!’
“Just like two lil boys in a Sunday morning competition in Honeymoon Savannah.”
Agar did eventually walk. Very reluctantly. And only after the photo finish evidence came back from the stewards room.
Some ten years younger than his teammate, the left-arm orthodox Western Australia spinner still has, it seems, the capacity for wonder. In over #13 in the West Indian innings, Dwayne Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer both waded into him and sent his second and fourth balls sailing high into the night sky.
On both occasions, Agar’s hand flew to his mouth as if to say in disbelief ‘Jeezanages!’ or whatever is the Western Australian equivalent of that good ol’ Trini exclamation.
The missus suggested that he was ‘in shock’. I said I thought that if the pair were not in the middle of an eventual 100-run partnership which was taking the game away from the Aussies, he might even have allowed himself to see the funny side and snickered.
“What is joke for de schoolboy,” she commented dryly, “is death fuh de crapaud.”
And the night ended with ample potential for genuine entertainment that never materialised.
In the 5th ODI against South Africa, Chris Gayle had had one of the openers stumped by Pooran. The almost 42-year-old Universe Boss celebrated by imitating the first half of 22-year-old Kevin Sinclair’s trademark celebration. Each time the young off-spinner claims a scalp, he does an energetic low cartwheel and segues into a high, athletic somersault.
In Saturday’s game, with the Aussies still 57 runs adrift of the 196 target set them by Pooran’s men, Gayle was asked to bowl the last over. With his second ball, he cleaned up Josh Hazlewood.
I thought we might see another attempt to mark the occasion à la Sinclair. Excited, I even announced it to the missus in anticipation.
But no such luck. Gayle turned and offered a congratulatory handshake to Mitchell Starc and then strode down the pitch to shake hands with his own teammates.
I steupsed loudly.
“You really expecting Chris Gayle to do a somersault?” she asked contemptuously, with a dismissive steups of her own. “Whole night he cyar even bend down to pick up the ball.
“A summer salt? You go be lucky if he could even manage a lil petit careme sweetness!”
I’ll be in front of my TV again for Monday’s Game Three.
Not the missus. Australia, she fears, go put water in we eye.
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