Who shot Gulbadin Naib? Jonathan Trott’s happy face, synchronised singles + more in our latest T20 World Cup round-up (an Afghanistan special edition)

5 minute read

The Afghanistan v Bangladesh match was a limited overs cricket tournament classic. It had all the staples of the genre: three possible winners despite only two teams being involved; chaotic running enhanced further by hapless fielding; frequent confusion over who was actually “winning”; and a slip fielder getting shot in the hamstring.

Who shot Gulbadin Naib?

We can only presume it was the work of one of the now underemployed Nassau police snipers.

With Bangladesh behind the required run rate and rain very much thinking about falling, Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott instructed his players to slow things down.

Little did Trott know but this instruction was entirely unnecessary. Wholly separately, mere nanoseconds later, Gulbadin Naib – who had been standing motionless at slip waiting for the next delivery – crashed to the ground clutching the back of his thigh.

Whether it was the cramp he’d suffered in the previous match or a bullet, Gulbadin was in trouble, but he bounced back in habitual style.

After being helped off the field, he returned and within half an hour he was back bowling well enough to dismiss Tanzim Hasan.

Not long after that, at the fall of the 10th wicket, he won Afghanistan’s celebratory sprint.

It’s hard to quibble with his recovery. That moment when you realised that Australia had been knocked out of the tournament, didn’t you too feel all of your physical ailments momentarily melt away?

Jonathan Trott’s happy face

This was something that struck us after Afghanistan downed Australia. Milling around on the outfield, Jonathan Trott was almost unrecognisably happy in his job.

We mean that literally. Trott’s smile was so broad and irrepressible, he actually kind of looked like a different person.

Needless to say, he was sporting a similar look after his men (who else – it’s Afghanistan) secured their place in the semi finals.

Trott infamously drove himself too hard as a player, so it’s probably no surprise that even at his highest playing moments his emotions never seemed quite so unrestrained as they have been after these two matches.

It’s often tempting to see outright tournament victory as the only real ‘success’ but the bare truth is you don’t really top this, even if the next match or matches are presented and perceived as ‘bigger’.

Synchronised singles

We often say that the great philosophical failing of T20 is this wrong-headed notion that engineering the game so you only see the best batters bat and the best bowlers bowl somehow equates to greater entertainment.

The best against the best is better. This is honestly just the greatest load of cobblers the devil ever sold. Cricket’s greatest strength – its absolute USP – is confusing chaos.

When no-one is 100% sure exactly what is required for victory because of rain reductions, net run rates or whatever – THAT’S GREAT CRICKET.

When tail-enders are the ones who have to somehow find a way of surviving or scoring match-winning runs – THAT’S GREAT CRICKET.

Part-time bowlers – GREAT CRICKET.

Running a bye to the wicketkeeper – GREAT CRICKET.

Overthrows – GREAT, GREAT, GREAT, GREAT CRICKET.

Complete and utter confusion between two batters running between the wickets? PLEASE FILL A GREAT BIG OLD VAT WITH THAT STUFF AND JUST DROWN US IN IT.

Look at this image and tell us this is not a big part of the reason why you love this sport.

What we especially love is the way that this mere snapshot – which could so easily have represented the end of this passage of play – instead foreshadows further delights to come.

Because this next shot here. This heralds an OPPORTUNITY for Afghanistan.

This is an ideal starting position from which to secure overthrows.

If you’re a real connoisseur of this sort of thing, this next image might just be the best.

The sheer latent confusion in that instant – stemming from huge uncertainty that is now rapidly snowballing – means that new avenues of potential craziness are opening up by the nanosecond. You simply cannot predict who will do what from this point on.

Behold the uncanny Borg-like symmetry as both batters simultaneously conclude, “One of us has to go back to that end.”

They stop.

They turn.

A moment later, the most obvious agreement is reached: each batter will make their way to the end they are currently farthest from.

One run.

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