20 Tips For Twenty20
Twenty20 has never been bigger. IPL, Big Bash, T20 Blast and now even a special tournament for 15-19 year old club cricketers.
It's about time you got on the bandwagon.
Of course, short format cricket is nothing new: It's been played in Berkshire since 1924. There is a wealth of knowledge in the club game that surpasses even the "specialist" professionals who started 5 minutes ago in 2003.
So for the new breed, and the even newer breed of 15-19 year olds playing in the ECB competition, here is some advice:
- Use spin to target dangerous batsmen. The ball spinning away is more effective in the power play than the ball spinning in. Target the dangerous opening batter by opening with spin.
- Make the keeper the field setter. The captain on the boundary means slower reaction time to tactical changes. So, let the keeper do the work of putting the plan into action. It needs a trusting relationship, but it creates time under pressure.
- Keep it simple. You need to score fast but you don't need every shot in the book. Yusuf Pathan hit 50 in 15 balls with 2 shots. Nor do you need every bowling variation. Get really good at a couple of things and play to your strengths.
- Call "plays". Different balls require subtle field changes. By the captain calling a play (like a quarterback in American football) your square leg can move round for a bouncer, or mid on can go straighter for a yorker.
- Bowl yorkers. It's still the best way to bowl in Twenty20. But it's also the hardest to get right under pressure so practice it relentlessly. Mix them up with bouncers for an even better effect at the death.
- Have a Twenty20 shot. The basics of driving, pulling and cutting work well enough, but to stop getting tied down against a good bowler you need a well-practiced "get away" shot. Try the slog sweep or backload.
- Take wickets in the middle. Wickets is the fastest way to slow the run rate. So avoid the mistake of your best bowlers only in the first or last 5 overs. Look to attack with good bowling and safe hands on the boundary.
- Put fielders in the right place. The ball goes in funny places in T20, but bowlers tend to have the same "high traffic" areas that are not always point or deep midwicket. Make sure you know where the ball is likely to go so you can get your best fielder there.
- It's not first-class. Bowlers bowl more bad balls and batters can't score in a 360 arc. Set the fields and bat like its club cricket rather than assuming you should copy the pro game.
- Know the score. You also need to know a good score for your level not the pro game. Instead of assuming 160 is the target, look back at some old scorebooks for the ground and find out the average total.
- Use the conditions. If there is a breeze down the ground, avoid the mistake of hitting big into it; you will be caught. If there is a short boundary, try to hit it with the bat and bowl to make the opposition hit the long side.
- Cherish the leftie. Left arm bowlers cause huge issues in T20 because of the change in angle stopping right handed batsmen's ability to cow it. If you have a left arm bowler, get him – or her- into the fray.
- Spinners need to bat. Sorry to the specialist spinners but with so many medium pace all-rounders on hand, the days of being a nailed on 11 are over. You might be the match winner but only if you are in the side and that means you need to bat.
- Bowl cross seam in the wet. In soggy conditions the ball gets slippery, so hold the seam to increase your control and bowl to a field. Yes you lose the ability to swing it, but with the ball damp, it's not going off the straight anyway.
- Have a look. If you are batting up the order, you still have time to get a feel for the bowling. Even Chris Gayle does that. Keep the scoreboard ticking by opening or closing the face on straight bat shots to beat the field.
- Run hard. The lament of coaches to "run hard every time" all over the world is doubled or tripled in short format cricket. Call well, run hard and do the basics like you would in any game.
- Hit for distance. When you go to hit over the top hit for distance not height. Stay down, use all of the body and keep a good "shape" through the shot. Height may look good; but 6 hitting is a distance game.
- Use length as a variation. Slower balls are the headlines but you can be far more effective with simply bowling a yorker, bouncer or length ball. It's very effective because the batsman can't set himself up to play a premeditated shot.
- Wear a helmet. When the wicketkeeper is standing up at one end and back at the other end it makes sense to leave the helmet on all the time. This saves time between overs and also prevents the risk of the ball hitting the helmet while it's on the ground (which costs 5 runs).
- Bluff the batsman. With so much second guessing, it's much easier to trick the batsman into a mistake. Try a close catcher. Short extra cover for the driver or slip for the "work to third man". It might even work and make you a genius!
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