How to win at 20/20
BBC SPORT (link) – By Andrew McKenzie
Twenty20 cricket has gone from the game’s new gimmick to the most popular show in town. But some players still struggle to get a grip on cricket’s shortest form. BBC Sport speaks to four of the game’s experts to get their advice on how to tackle Twenty20.
CAPTAINCY By Darren Maddy – Warwickshire Bears skipper
Twenty20 is a very condensed and high intensity game that moves really quickly.
A captain must think on his feet and stay calm and composed – keeping his mind clear when balls are clattering over the boundary is not always easy.
We do a lot of our planning before the game – we try and put a plan in place and then I captain on instinct.
The biggest difference is that the batsmen are generally going after the bowlers a lot earlier than in a longer one-day game.
But you get a feel for how a batsman is trying to play and who he would prefer not to face and you try and get him to do things he does not want to do – get him out of his comfort zone.
You can do that by creating pressure with field placings, changing the bowlers or even altering the pace of the game.
Anything to make the batsman think on his feet and hopefully get his mind ticking at 100mph while everyone else tries to stay calm.
Setting a field depends on the batsman and the bowlers – different players hit in different areas and have different strengths.
Sometimes you can keep the fielders in to create pressure but in Twenty20 it is important to protect your boundaries.
Nine times out of 10 you will put your fielders back but if the batsmen do not look like clearing the inner ring you do not want to give them an easy single.
Everyone really enjoys the Twenty20 concept because it is the only time they get to play in front of packed crowds at domestic level and that is what every cricketer wants to do.
But that also brings with it extra pressure.
When you have 10,000 people behind you in the stand you do not want to make a fool of yourself. You have personal pride to perform in front of those people.
BOWLING By Jeremy Snape – Leicestershire skipper
There is a huge difference between bowling in Twenty20 and other forms of the game.
The more attacking the game is, the more important the chemistry between what the batsman is looking to do and what the bowler is attempting.
In four-day cricket your aim might be to bowl a consistent line and length.
If you do that in Twenty20 you will get pounded out of the ground because the batsman knows exactly where you are going to bowl.
Twenty20 is less about technique and more about strategy and stopping what the batsman wants to do.
If you can limit the scoring in Twenty20 you are going to get wickets – whereas four-day cricket is more a game of chess.
I aim to bowl at the stumps a lot more than in other forms, otherwise you are opening up both sides of the wicket to hit.
If they are playing across the line and they miss you can get an lbw decision, but you have to be hitting the stumps to do that.
Variation is the key and I try and change every ball. Varying your run up to disturb his rhythm, variables like flight, length and line and field changes are all ways of making the batsman think.
If you can build up dot balls that is when you see players’ brains working overtime and that is often when they play bad or higher-risk shots.
BATTING By Ravi Bopara – Essex batsman
The biggest difference is up front where you have to go hard in the first six overs.
You have to make the most of your overs – after all you have 10 wickets in hand.
In 50-over cricket you have to be a bit more cautious up front and protect your wicket.
You are looking for someone to try and bat through, with someone alongside to support them.
But in Twenty20 you do not have time to get your eye in – you have to go out there and score from ball one.
You need two aggressors up front. It’s helpful if they can bat through the innings but there are no guarantees in that form of cricket.
You are more likely to have players chipping in with 20s and 30s.
The batting team cannot afford many dot balls, they need to keep scoring off every ball, rotating the strike and look for the odd boundary.
If you can get one boundary an over with four or five singles then you are up there at around eight or nine an over – which is a good score in Twenty20.
I look to target a certain bowler where I can get three or four boundaries off his over.
I will pick a bowler and try to get 15 or 20 off the over – which can take a lot of pressure off and really boost your score.
You have play a lot of premeditated shots in this form of cricket.
There is not enough time to play each ball off instinct so you often have to decide before the ball is there – if it is there to hit I will try to get it away for a six or four. But if not I will just try and get it away for a single.
WICKETKEEPING By Paul Nixon – Leicestershire wicket-keeper
Keeping wicket in Twenty20 is more demanding.
For a start there is a lot more movement in front of you from batsmen.
Batsmen are always trying new shots and flicks over their shoulders and therefore the ball can come over my head and tends to fly everywhere.
It is important to keep calm and focus on your job and let everybody else worry about theirs.
Focus is even more important in Twenty20.
Wicket-keepers play a very central role as the captain often asks you a lot about the lines people are bowling and the pace of the pitch.
Both of these things have an impact on the skipper placing his fielding positions.
Therefore the keeper in any team is an integral part of a captain’s thought process.