The T20 World Cup finished over a week ago and my life seems emptier without it. I don’t remember following an international cricket competition as closely as I followed this one: I watched over half of the matches and knew at all times the fates of every team. I think perhaps this is because T20 is such a short form of cricket that it is very easy to sit down and watch briefly before getting on with some work, or in my case, watching the next match. I wouldn’t argue with anyone who told me that Test cricket, and to a lesser extent One-Day cricket was boring, but this World Cup was full of some exceptionally exciting matches. Enough has been said about that extraordinary final, in which the momentum swung to both teams several times before wresting firmly in the enormous hands of Carlos Brathwaite, but I would like to examine a few of the other interesting happenings that I have found in watching the tournament unfold.
I supported Oman at an international sporting competition
This was one of my favourite aspects of the competition: the minor teams were all given a good chance and adequate coverage so that their achievements could be documented as equally as the major teams. I was delighted to find that Oman were actually in with a chance of qualifying for the Super 10 stage, and there is no other sport I have come across in which Oman would play the Netherlands and Zimbabwe would play Hong Kong. The cricketing world is a better place, as is, I would argue, the regular world, for the inclusion of more diverse teams, and I hope to see further tournaments expanded further in future.
Afghanistan could use cricket as a method of progress
One of the biggest stories of the tournament was Afghanistan beating the West Indies. Never mind that West Indies were resting key players: the feat remains as spectacular. Afghanistan gained their Affiliate Membership of the ICC in 2001 and the team have risen rapidly to prominence. According to Wikipedia, cricket is the only sport to be permitted in Afghanistan by the Taliban and is the most popular sport in the country. The Afghanis played extremely well during the competition, with several players impressing. They narrowly lost the match against England, but for them to beat the West Indies is a truly momentous achievement. I was so engrossed that I followed the match from lunch in a restaurant (my manners really are excellent) and actively jumped up in celebration along with the Afghani players upon their victory. I hope that cricket will, in some way, be able to help the country through its poverty and be used as a way to rebuild communities.
Virat Kohli might possibly be a demigod
Kohli was by far and away the most consistent player of the tournament. He scored 273 runs in 5 innings at an average of 136.5 (though this is obviously inflated because of not-outs); nonetheless, he carried India through several of their group matches and almost managed to single-handedly beat the West Indies. To score 89 from 47 then take a wicket with his first ball to dismiss the set batsman Johnson Charles smacks of supernatural ability. But no. Kohli is a man. India were knocked out despite being the pundits’ favourite to win the competition. India’s failing in the tournament proves that cricket is a sport that, while heavily individual and highly pressurised because of this, is a team game and there are stronger team units that are supported by multiple players instead of by one quasi-omnipotent superhuman.
England did pretty alright actually
For the England team to reach the final and actually have a good chance of winning the whole tournament is a special achievement; especially when you consider that in March 2015, England were ignominiously dumped out of the ODI World Cup. The progress the team has made tactically and as a unit is remarkable, though of course it helps to have Joe Root in your team. I’m not sure even the most optimistic fan or pundit thought that England would win the competition (I personally felt the semi-final was a realistic goal), but for every member of the team to step up at different stages showed the belief of the team and the ability that runs throughout. Crucial runs were scored by Root, Roy, Buttler, Moeen and wickets were shared between Willey, Jordan, Rashid and Moeen (what a man, what a beard). England’s prospects at future One Day tournaments are the best they have been for years; it’s a good time to be an England cricket fan.