The bane of recent ICC-run world events is that we end up watching endless cricket hoping in vain for an upset or even a close game before the real cricket commences at the quarterfinal stage.
Perhaps, there may be a case for a wider net in the T20 format but it’s certainly not so in the 50-over format. The ICC needs to work out a fair and even qualifying series preceding the major tournament so that when we eventually arrive at the main event, we have the world’s best eight or 10 teams playing each other and then we can have the finals.
There are a number of hurdles inhibiting this move but surely things like revenue sharing and encouraging wide participation of member nations can be worked through. Having the eight or 10 best teams at the tournament would make it more exciting for the fans, fairer for the competitors and more commercially attractive for sponsors. What’s more, it will also provide a wonderful challenge for the administrators who run our game.
a chance As far as the New Zealand match goes, Bangladesh will know that they have a chance, actually a very big chance. They have had more T20 match practice than any other team here, having played around 17 to 18 matches in the last few months.
It seems that Richard Pybus, their new coach, who is intense and well-planned, has also got his hands on their travel budget. But it is more than the preparation that will help Bangladesh believe they can beat this New Zealand side. The reason lies in a result of nearly two years ago where, admittedly at home, they white-washed the New Zealanders 4-0 in an ODI series.
So, finally we have a match that looks like a serious contest. Bangladesh will believe they can beat New Zealand and the Kiwis will be feeling exactly the same way. It will probably boil down to whether Bangladesh can get enough runs against an honest seam attack plus Dan Vettori.
For the New Zealanders, the question will be — have they learnt their lessons from two years ago in how to play quality left-arm spin? In that respect the wickets of Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor will be crucial. The real decider in this contest may however be the Pallakele wicket. It is more likely to favour seam than spin.
What could eventually separate the teams will be something else. It is self-belief. If you don’t believe you can win, you won’t. Belief can’t be bought or suddenly created and sprinkled around the changing room, which suddenly has the team believing, “Hey-presto! We believe we can win.” No, growing belief is hard work. Firstly, on the training field, whereby you practice with such intensity that the games seem almost easier by comparison. It’s about conversations and always being positive.
Above all, growing belief in a player or a team is about honesty. Where everybody knows exactly where they stand and what is expected. Then you chip away. The odd victory here and there, a few close losses now and then, and along the way you pray for that watershed result. It becomes the victory where everyone realises that we can win and are capable of winning and succeeding against anyone and anywhere we play. Provided you stick to the hard work and treat your life as a glass half-full and above all remain honest, that momentum can continue. We will soon know who has it.
The writer is a former India coach.
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