Traditionalists, forward defence fanatics and Test cricket lovers, turn away now. What you’re about to read is not only almost impossible to comprehend, it’s downright offensive.
Recently, airtime and column inches have been devoted to analysing everything wrong with Australian cricket, from reverse paddle sweeps to the mix-and-match schedule. To escape the misery fans have been able to follow our women’s stars who have surged into the final of the World T20.
But who knew the real action is actually taking place in an obscure competition in the UAE that has flown under the radar despite boasting a host of international megastars who have contributed to mind-blowing scenes cricket has never seen before.
The second edition of the T10 League — in which innings last 10 overs — is going on away from prying eyes but it might not be so easy to escape attention if performances like the ones we’ve seen so far keep repeating themselves.
The two-week tournament, comprised of eight teams, started a couple of days ago and features big names like Eoin Morgan, Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle, Shane Watson and Brendon McCullum.
In the opening game of the tournament, the Rajputs took just FOUR overs to chase down the Sindhis’ 6/96. Former Australian all-rounder Watson smoked 42 off 20 balls to set up the total but ex-Kiwi skipper McCullum and Afghanistan’s Mohammad Shahzad went absolutely berserk in reply.
Shahzad crashed 74 from 16 balls, hitting six fours and eight sixes at the ludicrous strike rate of 462.5. McCullum was positively pedestrian by comparison, belting two maximums and a four en route to an unbeaten 21 off eight balls.
The madness has only exploded since then. Ireland’s Paul Sterling (40 off 14) and England’s Eoin Morgan (46 not out off 20) steered the Pakhtoons to an eight-wicket win over the Kerala Kings as they took less than eight overs to reel in a target of 110.
In game three the victorious Bengal Tigers went at 13 an over courtesy of an undefeated 60 from England ODI opener Jason Roy off just 29 balls and West Indian Sherfane Rutherford, who cut loose with four sixes and four fours in his 21-ball 47.
The Northern Warriors never stood a chance in reply, reaching 7/94 from their 10 overs as Pakistani quick Aamer Yamin recorded a sensational double hat-trick when he took four wickets in four balls.
It’s good to know T10 isn’t just a batsman’s game.
Then it was time for the Sindhis bowlers to run riot against Kerala, providing our favourite storyline of the tournament so far. The Kings batting line-up featured internationals Gayle, Morgan and Pollard but slumped to 4/6 after just one over.
They lost four wickets in the first six balls of the match — and here’s where it gets really good — to a 47-year-old leg-spinner who’s only played two first class matches and six List A games in his life.
Indian Pravin Tambe had an auspicious start, his first ball going for five wides. His next delivery also missed the mark and the umpire extended his arms. But from there it was pure bliss.
Gayle punched a low full toss straight to long on and two balls later Morgan fell in almost identical fashion. Pollard went for a golden duck, bowled by a ball that kept low and Tambe finished his over off by bowling Fabian Allen.
Not done there, Tambe came back in his second over and dismissed Sri Lankan star Upul Tharanga to become the first man in T10 history to grab a five-wicket haul, finishing with figures of 5/15.
“I’ve never thought about my age. I enjoy this game and I keep enjoying this game,” Tambe said. “Being a bowler in this format, it’s a very short format and I think it’s for public entertainment. As a bowler, you have to think that you can’t give any sixes or fours. With that in mind, you will get wickets, and that’s what I got today.”
The Kings recovered to post 7/103 but Sindhis made light work of the chase. Watson creamed an unbeaten 50 from 24 balls with four sixes and Kiwi Anton Devcich cracked 49 from 20 balls to secure an easy win inside eight overs.
Batting fireworks also took a back seat to the bowlers when the Punjabi Legends outclassed the Maratha Arabians by 43 runs.
The Legends posted 6/121 before England seamer Chris Jordan and Afghani Zahir Khan took over. Left-arm wrist spinner Khan counted England internationals Alex Hales and James Vince among his victims on his way to picking up 3/8 while Jordan took four wickets in eight balls, cleaning up the tail to finish with 4/6 from 1.2 overs.
Is this the future?