Thumbs up for T20I'm looking forward to the Twenty20 World Cup. Unlike many voices in the media, I'm not too apprehensive about the likely toll it will have on the other forms. It seems to me that the classical version of the game will benefit from this, at the expense of the ODI format. The wide contrast between the 5-day game and the 2.5 hour gala will ensure both forms survive - you will always get players who are both interested and good at both these cultures of cricket.
Perhaps the ODI game, already feeling the heat of hectic tour fixtures, the blot of commercialism, waning spectator interest, and an axe-on-foot World Cup, will suffer the most. The injections of Powerplay and the like haven't helped much. In contrast, the unabashed "viewer-first" upstart can co-exist with the solid uncle who's seen a bit of life.
I also don't think bowlers will be that badly hurt - they'll adapt to the free hits and the swings. A run-rate of 7 to 8 will become par, much as 6 is normal for ODIs today. What's more, I think bowlers will have more of an immediate effect on proceedings if they pick up wickets. Sure, they may not work themselves into a nice rhythm with a spell of 5 overs, but similarly, the batsman has no opportunity to play himself in. In many ODIs, a trishanku score of 225-odd sees the chasing team stumble at the beginning, only to play carefully and see out the 50 overs to win at a walking pace. In T20, the loss of a wicket is likely to steal an over from the batting team, which, given the budget of 120 balls, is a significant blow.
Sambit Bal has shrugged his shoulders and is cautiously optimistic. I'm sticking out my neck more than that!
Am feeling giddy enough to want to attempt some predictions. Ok, my pick for the preliminary round winners are: West Indies, England, New Zealand, and India. I don't know why South Africa end up playing the Windies in the first match of the WC, but the Caribbean men have been their bogey-side. I'm backing Bravo and company. England could put it past the Aussies, given their own experience at home, and the Aussie injury list. It's a toss-up between NZ and SL, but I go for NZ because of their international experience in this form and because SL are missing ol' "Eyes on Springs". India, not for sentimental reasons, but because Pakistan are rocked by their bowlers being involved in internecine warfare. Dhoni, beware of the bats.
12 Sept: Damn, already one prediction seems to be blown away. Still, Gayle almost made it happen.