Twenty20, Here to Stay
Fri, Jul 21, '06
from MICHELLE McDONALD in Antigua
"It's Twenty Twenty
Hold on the rhythm
Are you ready?
Ah me say cricket one time
It's time to party
Suit up for four, make you run up the scores all night
Strains of the above chorus were heard coming from an employee of the hotel here in Antigua where I am staying. The Stanford 20/20 fever has obviously caught on.
Every employee who I asked "going to cricket later?" said they hoped to. Most had been to at least one of the matches prior to today?s double header featuring "star" teams Guyana and Jamaica against Montserrat and Bermuda respectively.
At 2:45 when I arrived this afternoon, the grounds were nearly full. By the end of the Montserrat?s first innings where they scored 115 good looking runs, the Mound had little space left, a multitude of colours dazzling in the afternoon sun heading towards its rest.
Even more colourful are the cheerful costumes. Designed to feature the colours of each country?s flag, the most prominent colours are red, green and gold. Those are also the colours of the Rastafarian movement, popular in Jamaica who play their first match later tonight, ten days after the start of the tournament.
The tournament Web site explains that Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago were separated an entered into the Round of 16. Antigua & Barbuda and St Kitts were winners and runners up respectively in the Leeward Islands one day tournament, and Grenada and St Vincent & the Grenadines the same in the Windward Islands tournament.
St Kitts was knocked out by sister isle Nevis. Can any of the big name teams lose to the minnows? Earlier this afternoon, Montserrat performed well. They played straight and created excitement, much to the delight of the large Montserratian crowd present at the Stanford Cricket Ground.
Up to the fifth over, Guyana was keeping pace keeping ahead of the required 5.8 runs per over, but a tight over by Daren Sweeney (Daren who?)have seen them slip to 5.33. Could an upset be looming? When West Indies Vice Captain was spectacularly caught by McPherson Meade for 22 in the ninth over, that question is not a ridiculous one.
It?s Twenty Twenty
Start battin? blind
Are you ready?
For cricket a nighttime
It?s time to party
and have a good time everyone in all the world have cricket on their mind
Another part of the chorus. Some teams took the ?start battin? blind? part to heart, thrashing and ?cowlashing? as if they could not see the bright orange ball. This must have made the purists wince and vindicated their scepticism that nothing good can come of this form of the game.
If you look at it from the perspective of it being a scouting tournament, then this is one of the best things that could happen for West Indies cricket. Over the years, the selectors have depended on regional boards to select the best players, but sometimes, cricket politics prevents us from really seeing good talent. Already, there is talk about young Keiran Powell from Nevis. By the end of the tournament there may be oooohing and aaaahing over two or three more Powells.
Ironically, we might never had witnessed young Powell?s clean batting. Originally, the tournament was to feature 18 teams, with St Kitts & Nevis entered as one unit. However, at the suggestion of long serving photographer Colin ?Jah Bone? Cumberbatch, since the two countries play separately in the Leeward Islands tournament, Stanford agreed thereby increasing the US$28 million budget. No money woes to contend with.
As the DJ churns out hit tune after hit tune (mostly calypsos though, since the Antiguan Carnival season is upon us), the flags wave more frantically, and the waists gyrate more vigorously.
It?s energetic, it?s lively. It?s Twenty Twenty. It?s here to stay.