Television creates a farce at T20 World Cup

HAMISH BIDWELL IN KANDY
Last updated 05:00 24/09/2012
Shapoor Zadran
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SPECTACLE: Afghanistan's Shapoor Zadran roars and flames shoot out after dismissing India's Virender Sehwag in their World Twenty20 group match.

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OPINION: As jokes go, Saturday night's Twenty20 World Cup Group C clash between Sri Lanka and South Africa was one of the least funny.

A highly anticipated match between two of the tournament heavyweights, it was reduced to little more than a farce by the broadcasters.

Scheduled to begin at 3.30pm (local time), in the southern town of Hambantota, rain caused a delay. By the time the ground was fit for play, it was still only about 5pm but, rather than a full match, the teams were told they were having a seven-over-a-side slog.

This was not because of the threat of more rain or because it was now late at night. No, the teams were sent into this ridiculous spectacle because there was another game in Colombo scheduled to start at 7.30pm.

He who pays the piper calls the tune and if it wasn't for television's appetite and bulging wallet, then there would be no such thing as international Twenty20 cricket. That's fine.

But the game is contrived enough without restricting it to seven overs, in a World Cup of all things. Never mind the fact that the ground was packed because the host nation was involved.

How much did the paying public enjoy the 14 overs they saw and Sri Lanka's subsequent loss?

The people running this tournament want it taken seriously, but it's hard to when a game is butchered by television scheduling. What next? Just a solitary Super Over each, so we can cross live to our colleagues standing by in Colombo?

The worrying thing is this could happen to New Zealand.

Despite being between monsoon seasons and each day dawning clear and roasting hot, the skies in Kandy, and nearby Pallekele, have started clouding over in the afternoon.

It's made the temperature more pleasant, but also had an impact on the cricket at Pallekele.

Black Caps captain Ross Taylor's preference is to bat first in all these games. But the dark clouds hanging over Pallekele on Friday meant he had to change his mind on that.

In the end, Bangladesh won the toss and bowled first themselves because of the way the Duckworth-Lewis method favours the team chasing.

It rained overnight here in Kandy and there are fears that weather might intervene, when New Zealand move into the Super 8s phase.

They will play Sri Lanka on Thursday, followed by England two days later and then the West Indies on October 1.

All the games are at Pallekele and all part of double-headers. New Zealand are the curtain-raiser on the first two nights, before their clash with the Windies follows Sri Lanka's game against England.

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With two games on the same ground on the same night, any weather delays will be hugely disruptive to the schedule. And, as we've already seen, the organisers will not budge on that.

You hope New Zealand have worked out who their Super Over bowler is going to be.

- Fairfax Media

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