Sunday, 21 June 2009

Kennington Hoodoo

Sri Lanka have been my pick for the ICC 20-20 World Cup since just after the tournament began. I seem to be a socialist when it comes to cricket; 'anyone but England' defines my allegiances... and the home nation were duly eliminated in the first stage. (Even Ireland did better.) The West Indies were who I would have liked to see win; and there were moments during their semi-final match against Sri Lanka when I thought they were going to. Before a blitzkrieg from Dilshan in the final few overs, SL had been restricted to what looked like a low score on a ground very familiar to West Indies fans, the scene of many triumphs over the years. The West Indian captain, Chris Gayle, looked in decent form; and Gayle is perhaps the most exciting exponent of the short game in the world (on those occasions when his muse can be roused from its cave. He is still the only batsman to have scored an international century in a 20/20 match.)

And then the gods of cricket dealt the West Indies a series of blows from which no side could hope to recover. A D Mathews (a young man who always begins his spell by making the sign of the cross) stepped up, of 'military medium' pace, not- I thought- a bowler of the same calibre as Sri Lanka's other mighty M's: Murali, Mubarak or Malinga. But Mathews (whose first name is Angelo) stole three West Indian wickets with his first six deliveries; a feat made all the more extraordinary by the near identical manner of the dismissals. Each batsman was 'clean' bowled, mistiming a stroke and playing the ball on to the stumps. (Except Simmons, bowled leg-side off a deflection from his pad.) A few deliveries later, and Gayle very nearly perished by the same malefic echo; a blow which would have resigned his team to utter infamy. (Nobody else made more than 9.)

A more obvious example of black 'obeah' I have never witnessed in cricket. Sri Lanka face the storm devils of Pakistan in the final this afternoon.


FilmNoir23 said...

What was the final result?

Ben Fairhall said...

Pakistan won by eight wickets... A shock. (PK were dreadful at the beginning of the tournament.)