The joy of watching KP bat

Published : May 27, 2010 00:00 IST

Twenty20 is the Marmite of the sporting world. You either love or hate it. Besides it marks down your place in society. By Ted Corbett.

After his sparkling innings had played a major part in the defeat of South Africa, the land of his birth, Kevin Pietersen flew home to see the birth of his first baby and no doubt tell the little one about the irony of taking revenge on the national team that threatened to reject him.

I loved his innings. I have not watched much of the World T20 but my partner Jo King has seen every ball while from time to time I have appeared at the door to ask: “Is KP batting yet?”

Once I got a yes I was happy to join her on the settee, knowing that now he has found his touch once again, there will be excitement, sensation even, so long as he is at the crease. You cannot say that about every T20 event.

Twenty20 is the Marmite of the sporting world. You either love or hate it. Besides it marks down your place in society.

“Sorry, your Majesty, I can't be at the Palace tonight because it clashes with the IPL semi-finals,” is not a short cut to a knighthood. You might just land in the Tower.

If instead you rant for half an hour at a posh dinner in Knightsbridge about the beauty of Graeme Swann's latest maiden over in the third Test on a flat pitch against Bangladesh you ought to have no trouble in getting MCC membership although there will be a 20-year wait.

I know that several million Indian spectators — plus a billion viewers or so — cannot be wrong but after watching one of the IPL games recently I was so bored I almost went into the kitchen in the hope of finding some pots and pans to put in the dishwasher.

It's much the same with the T-20 World Cup.

Begging the pardon of all those in Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai who find the lure of T20 irresistible, it is mind-numbingly boring. And so predictable. A rush for runs in the first six overs, steady-as-she-goes in overs seven to 12 and a ferocious assault over after over until the end.

Result: 185 for seven. Who would be a bowler in T20?

England's new off-spinner Graeme Swann, already the greatest recent exponent of the purest form of the art as practised by Jim Laker, Fred Titmus and John Emburey in what I am tempted to call the good old days, clearly loves T20 and succeeds with it.

So South Africa's Charl Langeveldt, the slowest new ball bowler of the century, who proves repeatedly the dictum laid down by the late Alec Bedser that “you don't have to run 30 yards like a lunatic and fling the ball down the pitch at 100 miles an hour to take wickets” is another ready to pit his wits against any batsman.

As for the rest, I get the feeling they bowl more in hope than expectation. They rely too often on the brilliance of the fielders to snare their victims and I have to concede that in an era when catching went into a new dimension in one-day cricket, it has exceeded all previous levels now.

That makes it a shame that MCC has taken a step backward by ruling out those astonishing moments on the boundary edge; when fielders knock the ball back into the playing area to complete the catch.

The committee men of that august body cannot all by befuddled by overdoses of gin and tonic. I know some of them and they are quite shrewd characters. So why spoil the rare sight of an acrobatic catch? They have taken something spectacular from a game that, in its present dire circumstances, needs all the standing ovations it can get.

India have been a disappointment. Perhaps they are like England's footballers who put so much into their Premiership performances that they have little left for international matches. Thus IPL has not been a benefit. Unless, let me insist, you have Kevin Pietersen in your ranks. That is why I wish all the best to him and his wife and the new baby.

You will see Stuart Broad's sister Gemma occasionally on television shots because she is the England team analyst, sitting at a computer keyboard working out which player does what.

She will hope that she never has to tell the coach Andy Flower: “Look these stats show that Broad never bowls well to left-handed batsmen between overs four and 16 from round the wicket on a Wednesday when there is an ‘ r' in the month.”

She looks such a cool cat that I bet she would not hesitate if she thought it was necessary.

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