Vaneisa: T20WC24 thrills, revived WI interests—but Big Three concerns linger

Both of the semi-final matches in this T20 World Cup were demolitions. The match between Afghanistan and South Africa was actually painful to watch.

Even if you supported the SA team, from a sporting perspective, it is unpleasant to look at that kind of devastation—like schoolchildren being trounced by adults.

Another Afghanistan wicket falls during their 2024 ICC T20 World Cup semifinal loss to South Africa at the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad on 26 June 2024.
Afghanistan were bowled out for 56.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

It reminded me of the horrid tour of South Africa in 1998, when the West Indies lost the Test series 5–0 and managed to win only one of the seven ODI matches thanks to 150 runs from Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

The match between England and India turned out to be another one-sided affair, as the current title-holders floundered under the weight of the bowling attack and the magnificent fielding, backed by the robust scoring of the Indians.

With the final on today in Barbados, the two teams, South Africa and India, will be putting everything into winning the title. Both have not lost any of their games on the way to Kensington Oval, and although it is tempting to predict an even contest, nothing can be taken for granted.

South Africa have never made it to a final, and India have not won the title since 2007.

South Africa cricketers celebrate a wicket by Marco Jansen during their 2024 ICC T20 World Cup semifinal win over Afghanistan at the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad on 26 June 2024.
Photo: ICC/ Getty

We’ve seen strong teams choke at crucial moments, and even play crazy cricket at crunch time.

This World Cup tournament has been entertaining—far more so than the recent IPL, which became monotonous as its 74 matches ended up feeling like a constant replay of sameness.

I suppose it is the nature of T20 cricket. Its frantic pace, surging relentlessly amidst an equally frenetic backdrop of hyped-up spectators, lends a chaotic air that can confuse the senses.

With the competition among national teams being the premise of the World Cup, there was a different core of supporters, rooting with patriotic flags.

West Indies supporters cheer on their team during their T20 World Cup clash with New Zealand at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

While the West Indies team scuttled itself out of the tournament in the Super Eight stage, they managed to once again woo disenchanted followers. It is reasonable to say that interest in the game has been revived for West Indian supporters.

It comes after a series of wins in recent times after a deathly drought, and a reminder that no amount of marketing hype can attract interest like victories do.

It’s hard to stomach losses that come from bedraggled cricket, and for West Indian supporters, knowing the days of dominance, it had been depressing to watch nerveless capitulations.

West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran posted a sizzling 98 against Afghanistan on 17 June 2024.
Photo: ICC/ Getty

Most would concede that it would be tolerable if they could see some semblance of spirit. Perhaps it is the return of this element which has stimulated interest again.

This bodes well for the upcoming CPL tournament, which starts at the end of August with 30 matches before the four final games.

Traditionally, there has been far more interest in this regional tournament than in any of the other fixtures. It has certainly become the premier one since its inception.

TKR spinner Sunil Narine bowls during CPL action against the St Lucia Zouks on 8 September 2019.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Hopefully, given the tenor of the discussions at the Caricom Regional Cricket Conference held in April, the contract between the CPL and the CWI will be renegotiated for a more equitable distribution of profits.

That issue of the way funds are disbursed has been an ongoing one for cricket nations globally.

The ICC, cricket’s global governing body, has faced increased criticism for its funding partiality to the Big Three: England, India and Australia.

BCCI president Roger Binny.

With India’s growing wealth in the cricketing world through its governing body, the BCCI, has come an astonishing amount of control over the fortunes of the game.

Full-member nations receive a small share of the revenue distribution, with the bulk going towards the Big Three, despite efforts to adjust the proportionate imbalance.

Among the arguments have been complaints that it is an obstacle towards cricket development. In the West Indies alone, transport is a major cost, given the fact that travel is always airborne.

West Indies spinner Gudakesh Motie is on the move between islands during the 2024 T20 World Cup.
Photo: CWI Media

During the course of this T20 World Cup, several disgruntled voices have been raised about the disparities; particularly in relation to the BCCI’s dictatorship over cricket: who plays whom, when, where, and even the timing of games.

With the hosts being the West Indies and the USA, matches have begun at times best suited to television audiences in India.

Accusations range from ensuring that all India’s matches were day games, to the decision that the India semi-final was held in Guyana with no reserve day, unlike the other.

England batsman Moeen Ali (left) loses his bails to India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant during the ICC 2024 T20 World Cup semifinal round at Providence, Guyana on 27 June 2024.
Photo: ICC/ Getty

It meant that based on India’s point standing in the Super Eights, they would have gone to the final if rain had washed out play.

Michael Vaughan has been the most vocal objector. But he is not the only one complaining about the BCCI’s depth of control.

It is an interesting reminder of the politics involved in cricket. The English, with their colonial past, have dictated for so long. The Indians are now wielding their financial power.

India captain Rohit Sharma (foreground) celebrates with his players during their ICC 2024 T20 World Cup semifinal contest against England at Providence, Guyana on 27 June 2024.
Photo: ICC/ Getty

Afghanistan, under the recent rule of the Taliban, have been fortunate that its players get support.

“Cricket brings the country together,” said Abdul Ghafar Farooq, a spokesman from the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue, as reported by The Washington Post in February.

It’s reminiscent of apartheid South Africa’s determination to gain acceptance through sport. England and Australia refused to play against Afghanistan, but reversed that for this T20 World Cup.

Women in Afghanistan face arrest for “improper” application of the hijab.

The world continues to be run on the back of politics and money.

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