Don Topley: Domestic t20 has been nowhere near as good a standard as the internationals
PUBLISHED: 11:56 10 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:56 10 July 2018
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Don Topley has been blasted on social media for his thoughts on domestic t20. Is he right?
I’ve come in for some stick on social media in the last week.
Since the start of the domestic t20 I’ve watched three live games of county t20 cricket and was underwhelmed with the quality of cricket on show.
In the last week I have commentated on Essex Eagles’ opening loss to Sussex Sharks. The following night I watched the surprising win of Middlesex over neighbours Surrey at Lord’s, and then I was back at Chelmsford on commentary for Essex Eagles’ narrow win over Middlesex.
While all three were exciting and spectacular events the reality for me was the cricket was not of the highest standard – this was in stark contrast to the International t20 matches between England and India.
All three international t20s were fantastic cricket matches and the standard on display was simply world class.
The array of batting talent in the Indian dressing room is superb: Virat Kolhi, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma.
Shikhar Dhawan has struggled lately, while Suresh Raina bats very low down in their order. Oh, and then, there’s the wonderful finisher, MS Dhoni who remains incredible at 37 years young.
India not only possess a fast and nasty in Umesh Yadav but have some extremely skilful bowlers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya and Siddarth Kaul.
They are proud of their world class spinners in Yuz Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and the currently redundant, Ravi Ashwin, and their ‘coolest man’ of all, Ravinder Jadeji.
Remember, they are not selecting their other top cricketers in Jasprit Bumrah, Ajinkya Rahane or Cheteshwar Pujara.
Forget the recent Australia and Pakistan series, as this Indian side will really test England in all formats this summer.
Even this wonderfully fine weather will not only challenge the English groundsmen but assist the tourists with abrasive, dry and possibly turning pitches – just like in India.
All the Indian cricketers are heroes in the IPL and have a profile equal to that of our own David Beckham.
They play so much more high intensity cricket and at an extremely high standard too - far superior to our Vitality t20 Blast. The IPL has just eight teams where our domestic competition has 18 counties, hence my persistent criticism that our 18 teams dilute the product.
Some suggest that having two divisions would help our own standard.
I don’t believe so as you would still have the top class protagonists playing in a poor side in Division 2. We have that in the County Championship.
I want only the best playing the best with the crème-de-la-crème of overseas players.
With 18 county sides, each team currently has players who would not make the grade to play in a smaller eight-team event which is what the proposed new competition or the ‘100 Ball’ coming in 2020 will offer.
While we still currently get close one run or one wicket wins in our t20 (which naturally a shorter game encourages) my unpopular comments about the ability level was seen as a criciticism of the event, but I only comment on what I see and I was underwhelmed by the ability on show.
The brilliant Morne Morkel has gone for 40 and 48 in his two four over match spells.
Another South African, Kyle Abbott, went for 54 on his first outing for Hampshire. Many bowlers have been guilty of bowling ‘no balls’ or ‘wides’ or particularly average death bowling which is a skill.
There’s also been many dropped catches and poor ground fielding. Like many, Essex have been guilty too.
It was not all bad, with some showing tremendous skill with the ball: Sussex’s leg-spinner Rashid Khan and pacebowler, Jofra Archer have impressed. Other bowlers to stand out have been Essex youngster, Sam Cook, Tom Helm at Middlesex and the veteran Surrey spinner, Gareth Batty.
n Meanwhile, I was concerned to hear many cricket matches didn’t take place last weekend due to the World Cup quarter-final.
Cricket Clubs have found putting sides out challenging, therefore not fulfilling fixtures, which is really sad.
I heard great stories of some fixtures starting earlier in the day and having a longer break than usual for tea to accommodate the televised football, either at the Club or even at a local pub.
Well done to the initiative, and the committed few!