Monday, 27 October 2008

Stanford Substandard Series

The Stanford Super Series is underway and is yet to produce the sort of cricket that its founder was expecting.

The first Stanford Super Series has only partially lived up to its billing. It has certainly been ‘Stanford’ – the benefactor has been a ubiquitous presence, swilling beer and shaking hands with anyone available – but it has emphatically not been ‘super’.

The opening two matches have both been mere warm-ups, but they did little to help the image of the event. Turgid runscoring on a painfully slow wicket and catching incompetence must have left Sir Allen wondering about the wisdom of his investment. He will not break the American market with this sort of cricket.

Low-scoring limited overs contests can be intriguing, a game of cat and mouse where skilful batting and bowling is rewarded, but the initial Stanford warm-ups were so devoid of big hitting – England managed seven boundaries against Middlesex - that they resembled the middle overs of a 50 over match.

More significantly, the matches have been as low on quality as they have been on big hitting. No amount of excuses citing unfamiliarity with the floodlights can put a gloss on the shocking standard of catching, although Middlesex and England deserve credit for being embarrassed enough at their abject displays in the field to stay on the field to practice. Stanford looked on impassively, no doubt wishing Australia or South Africa had taken up his offer.

However, the big man should not be too critical of the teams he has invited – the wicket served up for them is so lacking in pace that fluent attacking strokeplay is virtually negated, with pacemen required to do little apart from bowl straight and spinners able to maintain 50 over sized economy rates. Some of the piles of money on offer should have been directed towards the groundsman.

If the $20m match between the Superstars and England follows the trend set so far, the one interesting element of this unsavoury series, that of players buckling under pressure will be removed.

There would have been a guilty pleasure in watching someone shell a chance that cost his team the pot of gold – that pleasure will not be had if chances are going down left, right and centre.

Twenty20 cricket retains its integrity when players perform the necessary skills under extreme pressure. This series is not overflowing with integrity and is in danger of turning to a sequence of beer matches, or rather champagne matches.

Written by Philip Oliver, a sports writer who blogs about cricket betting.


Anonymous said...

Some of the super rich pay millions to big name acts to play a few songs at their parties.

Mr S just happens to be doing the same to cricketers so if he wants his own private tournament, who are we to argue.

Good luck to the players who benefit. For most, the payday will make a real impact, unlike the singers and musicians who are already multimillionaires.

If we are to talk of integrity, there are no international tours being threatened because of Stanford and he is not trying to destroy the careers of any players.

The same cannot be said of the organisers of the IPL, so this inoffensive bunfest should just be seen as a bit of fun any criticism of the current Twenty20 scene should be directed at the real villains of the piece.

Anonymous said...

I do like this blog, but sometimes it does feel like you're always insulting people who like Twenty20.

Why does it matter if someone prefers high scores and big hitting over a tactical Test match? It's not a lesser form of cricket, it's just different. It doesn't matter what you'd rather watch, and I think you should stop insinuating that it isn't worthy of Test cricket.

Tim said...

Have to agree Philip - the pitches have made the games tedious in the extreme.

As for the Stanford game, not sure if I can be bothered to watch. They're playing for themselves not England. I don't blame them for it, but apart from the money, the game is irrelevant.

Srinivasarao Vundavalli said...

Yes tim, this one is surely for money...

have a look at my blog
and give me some suggestions..