By: Chinmay Vaidya
After the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009 in Pakistan, the latter's future as a major player on the international circuit looked bleak. Criticism about security arrangements and general playing conditions in Pakistan came from anyone and everyone, resulting in the country losing its 2011 World Cup hosting rights and being boycotted by every other cricket board for home series. Pakistan was forced to "host" series in U.A.E., although an occasional match has been played in the country since the attacks.
A year ago, I noted how much Pakistan cricket has changed since 2009. The country, and more importantly the Pakistan Cricket Board, appears to have made the necessary reparations over the course of a decade to deserve tours once again. Zimbabwe came to Pakistan for a short ODI series in 2015. The West Indies took part in a T20 series. The Pakistan Super League, the country's domestic T20 franchise league, will potentially play a full season in Pakistan in 2020. However, it was going to take an extended tour to get the country back on the international calendar.
Enter Sri Lanka.
A decade after the initial attack, Sri Lanka will return to Pakistan for three ODIs and three T20s. This is the first extended tour of Pakistan since the fateful day in March, giving real hope for an eventual return on the international scene for PCB.
“The upcoming matches will end the long await of the Pakistan cricket fans and supporters to watch modern day stars from both sides live in action," PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani said in a statement. "This is something that will contribute immensely to our revamped domestic cricket structure."
Sri Lanka has undergone its own domestic problems in recent years with a "Golden Generation" disappearing and young players failing to step up. But in returning to Pakistan for what is essentially a trial run, it has shown more willpower and guts than any other board in the world.
This tour is replacing the two teams' scheduled Test fixtures, which were originally going to held as part of the inaugural World Test Championship. That series has now been shifted to December, but both countries saw an opportunity to make a different statement with the opening. Cricket has finally come full circle for Pakistan on the international stage.
By: Chinmay Vaidya
With the rise of T20 leagues around the globe, Canada wasn't going to be left behind. The Global T20 Canada wrapped up its second season with the Winnipeg Hawks taking down the Vancouver Knights to win the title. Winnipeg was led by Shaiman Anwar, who put up 90 runs in 45 balls. Although Andre Russell and Shoaib Malik forced a super over, Chris Lynn and Anwar were able to finish the job for Winnipeg.
GT20 Canada, according to the tournament's website, has 1.5 million subscribers across its social media platforms. It's not on the level of the IPL or BBL, but that's a significant figure. More important, 85% of app users are interacting daily. Retention rates are important for leagues to grow and there's enough traction to here to see GT20 as an annual edition to the cricket calendar. Throw in big names like Yuvraj Singh, Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle and you'll get fans in the stadium. However, those big names come with some big paychecks and that's where the chaos comes in.
According to ESPNCricinfo's Peter Della Penna, the Toronto Nationals and Montreal Tigers refused to take the field for a match due to unpaid wages. Della Penna reported the protest extended beyond those two squads, with several other teams also making it known they would protest until the checks cleared.
Wage protests can be a death nail for a T20 league. Get enough players to protest and it turns off future competitors from joining. According to Della Penna's report, some players hadn't been paid from their participation in GT20 2018 either. It's quite stunning how the league actually came together this year given players likely had knowledge of these problems.
The wage protest added to the overall chaos of the organization of GT20. Fans weren't able to park at CAA Centre and had to use a shuttle service to get to the ground. The ground itself was, obviously, designed for maximum boundary damage and therefore smaller than a standard field. GT20 lasted 18 days in total. Compare that to some of the other established leagues which span several months.
There is promise for the league to grow. Once the official numbers come through, GT20 will likely surpass its projected 150 million viewers from the beginning of the tournament. A final going to the "super over" will help the cause. However, the infrastructure behind the scenes needs to be cleaned up and the tournament as a whole needs to operate like a legitimate league rather than something seemingly hastily thrown together.
There is always a cost to becoming a regular event on the global cricket calendar. Two seasons in, it's unclear whether GT20 is willing to pay it.
By: Chinmay Vaidya
Shortly after the 2019 World Cup, which was a drag through most of the group stage before erupting on an international level in the knockout round and the final, it was back to business as usual for the ICC. Global celebrations of sport rightfully overshadow the people running the show, but reality eventually rears its head.
This time, it's full member Zimbabwe suffering the penalties. On July 18, the ICC suspended Zimbabwe with immediate effect from international cricket for violation of the ICC constitution, which doesn't allow government intervention. Zimbabwe's economy is in chaos and the ICC rightfully feared the government was diverting money from funds intended for the development of the sport into other sectors.
"We do not take the decision to suspend a Member lightly, but we must keep our sport free from political interference," ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said in a statement. "What has happened in Zimbabwe is a serious breach of the ICC Constitution and we cannot allow it to continue unchecked."
This is the first time a full member has been affected. Nepal and the United States have been suspended for the same reason and Sri Lanka was dangerously close to getting the same punishment. The ICC rightfully wants governments and the boards to be their own entities.
However, this suspension doesn't actually solve the problem. Zimbabwe board members will likely be reinstated and the situation, according to media reports, is going to re-examined in the coming months. However, the funding eventually has to get back to Zimbabwe cricket to grow the game. The structure of the board isn't likely to change. So how can the ICC ensure the situation will be any better at the next checkpoint?
Another somewhat important note; Zimbabwe's economy has been unstable for a long time. There was never fear of the government reaching into Zimbabwe cricket's coffers to divert funds. So what changed now? As Grant Flower details here, Zimbabwe cricket has had operational issues for years. So why take action now?
The problem now is coaches and players are now out of job for the foreseeable future. The best ones will be able to latch on in one of the many T20 leagues around the world, but this could be the end of the line for a lot of others. There is a human aspect of this decision many people won't realize. These coaches and players are the ones truly affected by the decision, both emotionally and financially. If the ICC was so worried about government intervention in Zimbabwe's revenue share, why not deliver the amounts to the players individually?
Here's the part where it gets really stupid. Shortly before the World Cup, BCCI was considering sending a letter to the ICC to ban Pakistan from the tournament due to a recent terrorist attack. You think that wasn't politically motivated? When MS Dhoni sported gloves with an Indian military symbol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi got involved. Pakistan still can't host a tour because of an incident from a decade ago. You think all the world's cricket boards are throwing away decades of significant revenue to take some moral stand against Pakistan entirely on their own? If the ICC wants to keep the government out of sports, it's up to the boards to keep sports out of government agendas.
BCCI isn't getting suspended. We know that. But if the governing body for the sport wants to keep cricket "free from political interference", it can't be selective in its approach. The solution is to provide Zimbabwe with a structure the ICC wants to see. Meet with the members tasked with running the organization. Ensure they're adequately funded and dedicated to the game. Zimbabwe being suspended, as mentioned above, doesn't actually solve the problem at hand. This is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Eventually, you have to actually take the bullet out.
Furthermore, the ICC isn't exactly a big proponent of growing the game itself. The most recent World Cup got cut to 10 teams. The 2023 edition is going to be the same. You want to know what it takes for a nation to get involved in the sport? Take a look at this absurdity.
Keep in mind Iceland cricket has zero, and I mean ZERO, incentive to lie about any of this. As the thread states, Iceland wouldn't need help from anyone if it had all those requirements in place to begin with. How does the governing body of an international sport fail to grow the game on this level? If Iceland's government gets involved, the ICC will suspend the team. But if it isn't doing anything to develop the game in the first place, then what's the real difference? Government intervention goes both ways. The ICC has to be capable to differentiating what is and isn't positive government action on behalf of the sport.
If the ICC wants to be taken seriously as a governing body, go after every board for its wrongdoings. Establish real solutions, not meaningless suspensions. Support nations trying to get into the sport from the top down. In short, do more than the bare freaking minimum of putting together a global tournament once a year. Allow a government to be involved in the growth of the sport for the right reasons. At the end of the day, this suspension only affects Zimbabwe coaches and players. They aren't even the intended targets.
The ICC has been backed into a corner over the years and is beginning to fight back. That's encouraging, except it is fighting back at the wrong people.
By: Chinmay Vaidya
The most thrilling match in the history of one-day cricket came down to a tiebreaker; the most number of boundaries hit in the innings. And with that tiebreaker, England has started a potentially historic "Golden Generation" with a World Cup title.
The hosts and New Zealand couldn't be separated after 50 brilliant overs from each team. They couldn't be separated after a "Super Over" each, meaning the final tiebreaker had to be utilized. Should both teams have kept playing "super overs"? Probably. The ICC will have to look at the rules again. Regardless of the final decision, the 2019 World Cup final will be the greatest match in cricket history for a long, long time.
The Blackcaps set up a score of 241, potentially 20-25 runs under par at the start of the day. England got off to a decent start before Matt Henry picked up Jason Roy's crucial wicket. After Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan perished at crucial stages in the contest, England relied on its two middle-order stars to take the chase deep.
Ben Stokes, the most reliable player for England in the tournament, and Jos Buttler gave the hosts a fighting chance at the end of the innings when wickets continued to fall. New Zealand had some bad luck as well despite some stunning catches and excellent ground fielding.
Trent Boult had the chance to flip a ball caught near the rope to a teammate to end Stokes, but he put his foot on the boundary rope. On the next play, a throw in from the outfield ricocheted off Stokes and went to the boundary, resulting in four overthrows and gave England a chance to win with 3 runs from 2 balls. New Zealand then got two run outs to force a "super over". England got 15 in its one over. New Zealand also finished with 15, with a run-out on the final ball needing 2 from 1 resulting in a tie and England winning the tiebreaker.
At the end of the day, both teams had great chances to win at multiple stages of the game. The tiebreaker is ultimately the rule, but additional "super overs" could've cemented this contest as an all-timer. England now gets to start on its "Golden Generation" with a one-day World Cup. Four years of transformation and work have paid off and England is ready to reap the benefits. The team will be favored in the 2020 and 2021 T20 World Cups and should be a contender in 2023 with the majority of this championship squad back in place. It's potentially four years of dominance after four years of rebuilding for the English. They wouldn't have it any other way.
By: Chinmay Vaidya, Aashay Chavan, Aneesh Tyle and Paarth Joshi
After 47 grueling matches, the 2019 World Cup final is upon us. No matter what happens, one country will be lifting the trophy for the first time ever. England and New Zealand meet in the World Cup final four years after both teams were on drastically different paths. The hosts had bowed out in hilariously disastrous fashion in 2015 while the Blackcaps finally broke the semifinal barrier to appear in a World Cup final.
For the first time since 1992, a World Cup final will not feature either India or Australia. The Aussies lost a semifinal match for the first time in their World Cup history. New Zealand bottled up India to advance to consecutive finals, becoming the fifth country ever to do so.
The Follow On crew breaks down England-New Zealand matchup with seven questions, from who the most important players are to who will get that elusive first World Cup title.
1. Does either team have more momentum heading into the final?
Chinmay Vaidya: As the semifinals showed, momentum doesn’t mean anything. Both teams enter after winning the last game but that doesn’t mean anything. England might feel its players are in better form, but New Zealand’s bowlers will also feel confident.
Aashay Chavan: In spite of New Zealand’s thrilling victory against India, I think England still has more momentum. Lest we forget New Zealand finished off on a steep decline, losing three in a row in the group stages after looking almost unbeatable during the first 5 matches. Although this may be the jump start they so sorely needed, I doubt it will be enough to overcome England’s firepower. They barreled their way against a good Australian team.
Aneesh Tyle: England has the momentum coming off 3 straight dominating wins against Australia, India and then Australia again in the semifinal.
Paarth Joshi: England. Despite an incredible win from New Zealand against India, the Blackcaps still had a rough end to the group stage while England has managed to pull of several impressive wins in a row coming into the final.
2. What is the key matchup?
CV: New Zealand’s pace bowlers against England’s openers. Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow have been killing opponents in this tournament and are keys for England. The Blackcaps blazed through India’s top order to help cement a place in the final. They’ll be looking to repeat that against the hosts.
AC: New Zealand’s opening pace vs England’s openers Roy and Bairstow. When Roy's on, he’s ON. He can be described as fluid big hitter at worst, a destructive match winner at best. New Zealand’s pacers (Boult, Henry, and Lockie) are in for a challenge but they’ve showed they can defend any total (New Zealand has not scored more than 300 once this entire tournament).
AT: Opening Batsmen vs New Ball. Who can get the all-important early inroads?
PJ: Roy vs Boult and Henry. If Roy can get it going early, New Zealand will be in DEEP trouble.
3. Most important player for England?
CV: For England, Roy is key. He’s been on fire in the games he’s played. If Roy gets going, he can singlehandedly take away the game from New Zealand. If he gets out quickly, England will face a slight setback and it could open the door for more wickets.
AC: I'm gonna go with one of two choices here: Stokes or Bairstow. Stokes can have an impact in all three phases of the game and if he dabbles his hand in each of them, he can singlehandedly change the match. Bairstow – who can lead from the front and get a big score quickly in any game, is also a worthy candidate.
AT: The obvious answer is Jason Roy (since his return, the opening partnerships have dominated), but I'm going to Joe with Root ;). He's the glue in their order and can anchor down or accelerate at will.
PJ: Jason Roy. If he can score 75+ the match is over. Not only is his strike rate amazing, but he has an uncanny knack of demoralizing a bowling attack and taking the fire out of 11 men.
4. Most important player for New Zealand?
CV: I think Martin Guptill is the most important player for New Zealand in this final. He’s been complete garbage this tournament after a sublime performance in 2015. If Guptill can click in the final, it’ll redeem an otherwise forgettable tournament run for the Kiwi opener.
AC: Kane Williamson, without a doubt. He does need to score a tad quicker in my opinion if the Blackcaps hope to put up a score of 330+ versus England. Martin Guptill is also someone to watch out for. I know he’s had a poor cup so far but maybe that run-out throw in the semis will give him the confidence he needs to go back to 2015 World Cup batting form right when his team needs it most.
AT: Kane Williamson- DUH. he's been New Zealand's best batsman this entire tournament. He needs to play the innings of his life to propel the batting order. If Williamson gets out early, then England will have a huge advantage.
PJ: Mitchell Santner. It's a slightly wild choice, but the game will come down to his ability to take wickets. Santner will likely be brought on within the first 15 overs and if he can take a couple quick ones as he has done in the past, England will be on the back foot. Plus he can chip in with the bat if needed.
5. England wins if....
CV: The openers click. Roy and Bairstow are so destructive, as India and Australia witnessed. If the openers get going and stay there for a long time, England might top 400.
AC: If the hosts bat first and score 350+ and have a good bowling powerplay. I don’t think New Zealand has quite the firepower down the order to make up for a slow start in a 350+ run chase.
AT: The hosts bat first and put up 300+. With their bowling, New Zealand won't chase that down.
PJ: Jason Roy scores 75 or more runs.
6. New Zealand wins if....
CV: The pace bowlers take early wickets. Trent Boult and Matt Henry have been consistently delivering breakthroughs for the Blackcaps. Lockie Ferguson is an excellent secondary option that can also change the game.
AC: If it gets to bat first and doesn’t face the pressure of a looming 330+ target. The Kiwis can bat freely, getting 300+ themselves. They’ll back their bowlers to defend any total.
AT: If the Blackcaps can get Roy and Bairstow out in the first powerplay and if Williamson and Ross Taylor play like they have been.
PJ: Ross Taylor scores 75+. He often goes unnoticed, but Taylor is the perfect compliment to any top order batsman in New Zealand's lineup. And once he’s set, we all know he can increase the run rate. Is there one more "Ross Taylor game" left in his career?
7. Final Prediction: Which teams wins and who is the Man of the Match?
CV: I picked England at the beginning of the tournament and switched my pick to New Zealand after 30 games. I’ll stick with the Blackcaps to lift their first World Cup trophy with Trent Boult taking Man of the Match honors.
AC: New Zealand bats first, puts up a 300+ score. England starts strong at about 120-1, but a wicket in the middle leads to a small collapse, and then New Zealand bowlers smell blood, finishing off the game by bowling England out.
AT: I think it'll be another one-sided match. England wins and Eoin Morgan is Man of the Match.
PJ: England is the better side. The hosts will win this contest behind a brilliant, unbeaten century from Joe Root, who will also get the Man of the Match honors and likely the Player of the Tournament award.