In 1963, CLR James predicted the genesis of T20 cricket—or, at least, that the future of cricket lay in the improvisation and controlled recklessness that we now associate with the shortest form of the game.
Eulogizing Wilton St. Hill—a well-known Trinidadian batsman from the 1920s—James recalled the vicious beauty of Hill’s technique. Facing off against a fearsome paceman, Hill “…[w]ith his shoulder well up, almost scoop[ed] up the ball, his body following through almost towards point… hurtling [the ball] over mid-off’s head.” It was a shot that James believed Hill “had never had to make…before in his life.” For Hill, if success “required the invention of a stroke on the spot, invented it would be.” Presciently, James believed Hill’s style was “where a future for big cricket lies.”
Darren Bravo in Barbados. Photo Credit: YouTube
Bar English supporters, no one wanted to see Joe Root step into the crease in Barbados. Throughout the series, Root had terrorized the West Indies bowling attack—the most impressive performance being a masterful innings of 182 not out in the second Test. For nearly six hours, Root had been nothing less than omnipotent, swatting 21 boundaries, including four sixes. As England’s tenth wicket fell, Root stood alone—the architect of a 464 first-innings total that would ultimately undo the West Indies.
As Root strode out of the English dressing room a week later in Bridgetown, the outlook of a West Indian victory looked no less promising. Yet, with the third Test on a precipice, it would be Root who would fall. With Jason Holder bowling, Root attempted a defensive stroke: The ball caught an edge and carried into the open palms of the man at first slip. After facing just 13 balls and with a solitary run to his name, Root was dismissed. The Kensington Oval roared. Holder leaped into the air, his fist clenched, howling emphatically. Smiles stretched across the faces of the West Indian fielders. They realized how momentous this catch was. Root was gone. England had managed just 28 runs at the cost of four wickets in their second innings. Victory seemed within reach.
We’ll have more on the third West Indies v. England Test soon, but in the meantime, it appears that Jermaine isn’t the only Blackwood proficient with the bat. Meet Bruce—Jermaine’s brother—who, of all places, appears to play his cricket in the United States for Sportsmen’s Athletic Club.
Jason Holder celebrates his maiden century in Antigua.
The West Indies are finished, don’t you know? They’re in irrevocable decline. Cricket in the Caribbean is dead.
Fortunately, no one seems to have told Jason Holder and Jermaine Blackwood.
Yesterday, former Australian Test captain and unparalleled commentator Richie Benaud passed away at the age of 84. There will innumerous words offered on behalf of Benaud in the coming weeks, rightfully celebrating the legend’s life. However, perhaps the greatest eulogy of all has already been delivered by the Benaud himself.
Enjoy—and rest in peace, Richie.
A stable of stars does not a team make—but that doesn’t stop the Royal Challengers from attempting to disprove this truism year after year. Known more for collecting big names than securing big results, the two-time IPL runners-up haven’t managed to seal a playoff spot since 2011, where they lost to Chennai in the finals. Yet despite the lackluster campaigns of the past several years, logic dictates that the immense talent of Bangalore must eventually coalesce. And with a squad filled with names such as Kohli, Gayle, Starc, and de Villers, it’s hard not to think that 2015 will finally be there year where it all comes together.
Colin Graves, the incoming ECB chairman, is a self-proclaimed “cricket nut.” Amid lagging attendance and claims that the game’s longer formats bore modern audiences, Graves has made it his mission to “reclaim cricket as the national summer sport.” Graves wants to see the game thrive. He simply loves cricket, you see.
That’s why it’s a bit baffling that he wants less of it.
And’s he’s back—well, back at Surrey at least. After a pitched, yearlong battle with the ECB, the “muppets” who have the gall to make less than him, and every cricketer who’s donned the whites for England since 2005, Kevin Pietersen has returned to county cricket in an attempt to cross a bridge he torched just months ago. Surely, this will go splendidly.
But Pietersen—whose biography savaged the English cricket establishment upon its release in October—isn’t the first cricketer to cripple his career with an ill-conceived editorial. Along with cricket’s bounty of fine literary works and authors, there’s a history of cricketers being less than prudent in what they put to paper. Enter Cec Parkin, an English off spinner who, much like KP, knew how to rustle the feathers of the establishment.
A final of New Zealand and Australia feels a bit inevitable, doesn’t it? South Africa was always going to find a way to lose—painfully. India had the air of a paper tiger throughout the tournament. At no point during the competition did Pakistan seem convincing. And that’s to say nothing of a West Indian side that seemed to take glee in tiptoeing on the edge of a precipice; a Bangladeshi squad punching above its weight; and a team of Sri Lankans that have already taken to blaming their woes on a lack of cardio. The less we discuss Zimbabwe, the better.
(Are there any member nations I’m forgetting? No? Alright then.)