We have cricket again and while England’s predictable weather put a dampener on things, Shannon Gabriel didn’t take long to strike.
The explosive nature of T20 cricket has lured in audiences of all ages and has inspired a new breed of cricketers.
Young apprentices are being developed into big swingers and are being taught to score runs at a high pace. It’s all about putting pressure back on the bowler, who has for so long oppressed the batsman by hurling bouncers past their chins before the invention of the helmet.
In the modern era, cricket has been dominated by the willow-swingers, although it still requires a unique skill to dominate bowling attacks and pile on the runs. So today I will be taking a look into what makes an accomplished T20 run-getter.
T20 cricket has evolved from its caveman days when it was only the big bashers getting all the runs. Nowadays it’s about much more than that. To able to have the power to clear the fence is vital, but times have changed and bowlers have become smarter. You start swinging for all money and a couple of slower balls later you’ll be sitting in the dugout with the rest of your team.
The key to running the show is to manipulate the fielding side. Get inside the head of the bowler and captain and anticipate their every move. Have a plan when you step out to bat and determine what course of action you will be taking.
In the first six overs with the fielding restrictions, it is crucial to fortify your position and provide a solid platform for the rest of your team, thus running between the wickets will not be at the top of any prolific opener’s agenda.
The likes of Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum have set an excellent example on how to take advantage of the field in the first six. The opening overs are the optimal time to cash in, because of the jittery bowlers who have limited protection. The key to success in the first stage of the innings is just to clear the inner ring and keep the bowlers on their toes.
When the spectacle of the first power play comes to an end, it is time for the middle overs. This is the time when the real magicians of the willow come out to perform.
With the field being spread out, gaps become harder to pick and bowlers start to set their traps. The outfield suddenly feels much bigger than in the first six and boundaries are harder to come by. The run rate is gradually declining and the dots are building. Running between the wickets are your safest option and clearing the ropes sounds more daunting than ever.
Batsmen such as Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli have mastered the art of batting in the middle overs and that is why they are recognised as some of the best in the world.
Their ability to keep the scoreboard ticking and still manage to pick up the odd boundary or two is unbelievable. To be an outstanding T20 batsmen, you have to be able to keep finding holes in the field as well as flaws in the bowlers’ plans to keep your run cow from starving at any given time of the match.
The fun part of any game always comes at its climax. To be acknowledged as a top T20 batsman you have to able to close out an innings. What good is it if you come in at 160 with four overs to go and only manage to get to 180? I would be much more impressed and entertained if you come in at 110 with four overs to go and get to 160.
This is usually the time when big hitters like Yuvraj Singh and Jos Buttler stride in. It is important that you clear the rope on a regular basis, otherwise the momentum starts to sway in the fielding team’s favour. It’s not always about getting sixes. Splitting fielders and turning ones into twos are just as crucial to maximise your score.
The best batsmen in the world are the ones who can assess situations the quickest and adapt to what the situation calls for.