Ok, everyone listen up. Krishnamachari Srikkanth has spoken. A couple of days back, the outgoing Chairman of the selection committee that picks the Indian cricket team proclaimed to the press pack that India would win the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka. This is typical of the kind of thinking that has characterized his tenure, i.e., blindly hopeful with little or no place for considered acts or responses. Speaking of claims, here’s a less exaggerated one: Craig McDermott the coach of the Irish team believes his team can beat Australia.
Why does McDermott’s view make more sense than Srikkanth’s? (No, that’s not a trick question.) After all, the Indians are former champions whereas the Irish have never beaten Australia, even though they are officially ranked one place higher than them. Here’s why. When it comes to the shortest version of the game, rankings and reputations don’t mean much.
What Srikkanth doesn’t get is that the nature of the T20 game is such that it’s virtually impossible to assert, with a degree of certainty, which team will go all the way in tournament comprising a series of matches. This is what makes this slapdash, slam-bam-thank-you-m’am version of the Gentleman’s Game a punter’s delight and such a money-spinner for all sorts of people. Unlike Test cricket, in which the less-than-thorough-professionals are quickly found out, T20 cricket is a great leveler. And that, pretty much, sums up why Ireland’s chances of beating Australia are much brighter than India’s of winning the Cup. In fact, readers might recall Zimbabwe’s thrilling upset of a strong Australian side in the first edition of the aforementioned jamboree.
Nonetheless, it is, sort of, understandable why Srikkanth said what he said. He was always a bit of a gambler, good fun, and very T20. Those with a preference for more calculated forays into the unknown, though, are advised to steer clear of his punts, and T20s; you’d be better off putting your hard-earned money on McDermott’s side upsetting Australia or Australia beating Pakistan or India beating Pakistan or Pakistan beating Sri Lanka or Gayle beating everyone to a pulp.
That said, there’s no harm in plunking down a quid or two (not more) on inconsistent India going all the way, even if only for old time’s sake. Don’t forget, it was the daring and infuriatingly erratic Srikkanth who played a big hand in helping India win the 1983 first World Cup. Just don’t bet your house on Dhoni’s men, or Sehwag, to deliver.
Harebrained predictions apart, one can’t help but wonder which side is likely to take home the trophy. Quite frankly, it’s next to impossible to call, unless you happen to be Srikkanth. However, there is this one thing we can be almost sure of: The side at the top of the ICC T20 standings will not win the tournament. If past performance is anything to go by, the South Africans always manage to lose their way at World Cups.*
*It needs to be mentioned here that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance in T20s. And on that Srikkanthesque note, let the fun and games begin.
The writer tweets @Armchairexpert. You can follow him if you’re into that sort of thing.