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June 2009
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Benj Moorehead: T20 roars amid the rain

June 10th, 2009 by Benj Moorehead in Twenty20, Twenty20 World Cup

On Friday evening it was raining and cold. The opening ceromony was postponed, postponed, postponed, and then called off. It looked like the cricket would be too, and even if it did go ahead it was England v Netherlands, hardly the firestarter that England v Pakistan might have been.

Of what value are omens? What we had was a thrilling opener to the World Twenty20, a story of underdog glory in which any result was possible when Stuart Broad took aim at the stumps after the last ball was bowled. And most of it was played through considerable rain (what more sums up Twenty20’s spirited defiance of tradition than this?).

This is a tournament that’s thriving under a laden sky through chilly air. To be at Lord’s yesterday was to witness this. Once through the gates the noise from inside the ground was louder than anything I’d heard in St John’s Wood. Strolling around the food stalls proved a carnival of culture, a range of different accents and colours – the bright orange of the Dutch fans competing with the sheer quantity of the Pakistanis. A disgruntled MCC member wandered through looking as if he’d never seen such things at Lord’s before. Who can blame him when a group of New Zealanders are dressed up as the Dutch. This feels like a genuine international tournament.

Each ball – be it a wicket, a boundary, a single or a dot – was greeted with a fanatical roar. As Shahid Afridi (who mercifully gave his supporters what they wanted when he smashed a six way over log-on) kept on taking wickets it felt like a pitch invasion was imminent, so excitable were the crowd. Goodness knows what it will be like if India and Pakistan meet in this tournament.

Even New Zealand v South Africa, supposedly a dead match, was brought to life by the brilliance of the Lord’s floodlights and an insistently noisy crowd. No one was faintly interested in the tube strike, least of all the New Zealand players who danced around like it was the final every time they took a wicket.

Lalit Modi might have a word with the cheerleaders. But otherwise this World Twenty20 is, so far at least, a roaring success. And the sun hasn’t even broken through yet.

Benj Moorehead is editorial assistant of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Twenty20, Twenty20 World Cup |

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