The final frontier for cricket is to get the US involved and excited about the game: Lisa Sthalekar

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Lisa Sthalekar

Lisa Sthalekar, a well-known commentator for the T20 World Cup 2024, offers a detailed look into her preparation process and shares her thoughts on the tournament’s progress and standout players. As someone who has closely followed the Indian Premier League, she leverages her in-depth knowledge and unique insights to bring a fresh perspective to the viewers.

Sthalekar relies on her iPad, where she maintains a comprehensive set of notes, almost like a cheat sheet, to track player and team performances. She emphasises the importance of understanding players beyond their statistics, highlighting the personal stories of perseverance and triumph that add a human element to the commentary.

Discussing Australia’s performance, Sthalekar notes that the team has had limited opportunities to play T20 matches recently, primarily due to their focus on the 50-over World Cup. Despite this, she believes the strong core group, which has played together for over a decade, will excel. Players like David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, despite recent form issues in the IPL, are expected to thrive in the Australian environment. Sthalekar confidently predicts that Australia will be among the top contenders.

Turning to India, Sthalekar praises the depth and talent of the squad. She highlights key players such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Jasprit Bumrah, and expresses excitement about Rishabh Pant’s return. India’s campaign, starting with matches in New York and the West Indies, will be influenced by the varied pitch conditions, but Sthalekar is optimistic about their chances.

When asked about potential surprises, Sthalekar points to the West Indies as a dark horse. Despite missing out on the 50-over World Cup, the West Indies team, buoyed by home conditions and a supportive crowd, could pose significant challenges to other teams. She also mentions their historical success in the T20 format as a factor that could work in their favour.

Sthalekar identifies Adam Zampa and Travis Head as key players for Australia. Zampa, having taken a break from the IPL, is expected to be hungry for success, while Head’s aggressive batting in the powerplay could set the tone for Australia’s innings.

Nicholas Pooran is Sthalekar’s pick for the potential Player of the Tournament. His dynamic batting and ability to dominate in the middle overs, especially on bowler-friendly pitches, make him a game-changer for the West Indies.

Regarding the USA’s co-hosting of the T20 World Cup, Sthalekar sees this as a significant step for the growth of cricket in America. The large subcontinent population in the US provides a strong fan base, and the successful start with a thrilling match against Canada has set a positive tone. Sthalekar hopes this tournament will help educate and excite more Americans about cricket, paving the way for the sport’s expansion in the region.

Sthalekar also comments on the broader impact of including more teams in the tournament. With new entrants like Uganda and Oman, the T20 format serves as a global platform, fostering greater competitiveness and depth in the sport. This inclusivity, she believes, is vital for the future growth and popularity of cricket worldwide.

As the T20 World Cup 2024 progresses, Sthalekar’s insights provide a comprehensive and engaging perspective on the teams and players, highlighting the excitement and unpredictability that make this tournament a spectacle for cricket fans around the globe.

Excerpts from the interview:

🏏 Lisa, as part of the commentary team for the T20 World Cup 2024, how do you prepare for each match, and what unique perspectives do you aim to bring to the viewers?

Yeah it’s an interesting one having just kind of being involved in the Indian Premier League I saw a lot of the players there. What I tend to do is I have an iPad where I keep all my notes, almost like a score check, a one page cheat sheet of all the scores that the players have had or even that team in the build up. Then I’ll pull out the numbers of what they’ve done in T20 cricket, recent tournaments, and then the other thing is try to get to know them as a person. Do they have an interesting story? The great thing about this ICC T20 World Cup is that it’s 20 teams that are taking place. There are some wonderful back stories of how the players have fought through adversity, injury whatever it was to get them to this special place. So you try and bring that a lot too, the human side or the human element.

🏏 How do you assess Australia’s performance so far this year? Who do you think has been the standout player for the team?

I guess Australia’s focus was the 50 over world cup last year, so as a team they probably haven’t played a lot of T20 games. Even for the warm up games, they kind of split the arrival of players of players who were still playing in the Indian Premier League, so they probably haven’t had a chance to play a lot of cricket with each other in the shortest format, but what we do know is that this Australian side really does tend to gel well. There’s a core group of players that play in all formats and have been playing with each other for over a decade so they do have a tendency to click. There’s a few probably question marks on a couple of players, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, can they turn around their lack of form or lack of runs in the Indian Premier League to be able to put on the Australian jersey and play well in the T20 World Cup. I have no real hesitation in saying that they’ll both perform really well, it’s something about the Australian environment so look out, because I feel like Australia will be up there in the top 4!

🏏 India is always a strong contender in ICC events. What do you think of their squad this year, and who are the key players to watch?

India seem to produce star upon star upon star and they’re the type of players and some of their senior players are searching for the ICC trophy. Especially the T20 World Cup having just missed out on the 50 over World Cup. Their chances are good, their changes are strong, they have a lot of their games, first game for them starts tomorrow against Ireland, but they’re playing a lot of their early games in New York and then they go to the West Indies so from a pitch point of view, conditions what will they be faced? I think they’re still trying to figure out what that will be like. They certainly got a great chance simply because they’ve got some key players, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, that’s just three guys but really happy to see Rishabh Pant is back in, You go through their whole squad and can pinpoint how that player might turn the match for them.

🏏 Turning to Australia, how do you evaluate their chances in this tournament? Who do you think will be their key players?

Well I think for Australians you’ll need to make sure you tune in to Prime because they’re the ones that have the exclusive rights to the tournament because the Australian team will go quite deep in the tournament, so I think there’s going to be some sleepless nights or early mornings that you’re not used to turning on the TV and watching cricket but I think everyone will enjoy how Australia play in this tournament. They’ve had success in the past in the West Indies and given they’re playing all of their games in the Caribbean, their side is good enough to be able to stand out.

In terms of key players, I think Adam Zampa is certainly one. Given he took a break from the IPL, I think he’s going to be hungry and I think the conditions will suit him.

Travis Head looks a formidable force at the moment. Everyone is saying he revolutionised T20 batting and how he attacked the powerplay so look out for him. Australia will go deep!

🏏 Every World Cup has its surprises. Which team do you think could be the dark horse in this tournament?

For me, it’s one of the co-hosts, The West Indies. They missed out on a 50 over World Cup because it was the first time they didn’t take part in that tournament because they didn’t qualify, that would have stung a little bit, but then you look at what the West Indies do, and all of their player are hired around in that T20 landscape and they tend to be stars. Given it’s home conditions, home crowd, they certainly get behind their team I think West Indies might be a side that really does upset a lot of teams. You’ve got to remember as well that they’ve won the T20 World Cup twice, so things seem to be aligning nicely for them in the lead up to this tournament.

🏏 In your opinion, which player has the potential to be the Player of the Tournament and why?

Yeah, it’s a tough one, there’s a lot of amazing players. I get a sense that if a top order batter really gets going in this tournament they can do a lot of damage. Given I’m kind of pushing the West Indies as a team, an outside chance to really upset a lot teams, I might go for the player of the tournament Nicholas Pooran. I think he’s been in great form, he’s so dynamic, he hits 316, he’s the type of player who causes a lot of damage in those middle overs which I think will be a question mark for a lot of teams especially on pitches which assist the bowlers a little bit more, he may be the difference.

🏏 Which team do you think is the favourite to win the T20 World Cup 2024, and what makes them stand out?

It’s huge! When you think about the fact that cricket is in the Olympics, the first Olympics it will be in is LA 28. There’s a huge subcontinent population in the US that love their cricket. I guess the final frontier for cricket is to get the US involved and excited about the game. I think the most important thing is that that they first had a successful game against Canada they were able to chase 194 runs in a thrilling game, so it was a perfect start for them, but it’s a real chance to educate people in this part of the world. I’m in New York at the moment so just hearing Americans talk about cricket is quite interesting, so hopefully they’ll get on board with the success of their side initially and subsequent matches and Major Cricket League as well.

🏏 How significant is it for the USA to co-host the T20 World Cup, and what impact do you think this will have on the growth of cricket in America?

Well you’ve got more teams, more groups, so I think you may still have a couple of blow out games but I think the most important thing is that the T20 format is the global tournament, the global format almost, it’s a great opportunity to get new sides coming in. The fact that we’ve got Uganda, Oman, who take on Australia as well. You’ve got these new sides coming in, and I think for the sport and as a fan of the sport you want to see as many people play it so I think this is the right move, and we’re only going to see it get bigger and better and create more depth within the global competitiveness and the global tournament.


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