In this new series on coaching Twenty20 cricket, I reveal the successful concepts that I have used with numerous teams over the years; from Internationals to club level.
Part three is for captains and coaches as tactical leaders.
1. Build a tactical relationship with the keeper
In T20, captains often find themselves on the boundary or in a position that slows field judgement and decision making.
This is where the keeper becomes the key man.
Captains who build a relationship with their keeper, share their views openly and then trust the keeper to put those plans into action create thinking time; that vital commodity of which I mentioned before.
Paul Collingwood developed this with Craig Kieswetter during the victorious 2010 Twenty20 World Cup.
This allowed ‘Colly’ to chat with bowlers, plan the next over or reflect on what had just happened in the game. England were always creating time and as a result made better decisions under pressure.
So coach your captain and keeper to work as a leadership team.
2. Turn American - Work on your call plays
Part of Somerset's success in the T20 in 2005 was that we had ‘call plays’ for different strategies or set piece moments.
Fielders used to know when the slower ball was coming and shift their position in the field, know when a bouncer was coming which led to a subtle shift in position of our square of the wicket fielders, when to hold the edge of the circle and when to hunt down the ball and stop that single.
Against Gloucestershire in a must-win final group game, Somerset picked up 3 wickets off of slower deliveries because the fielders walked to a different deep fielding position as the bowler was running in and took catches 25 yards from conventional field positioning.
Call plays are a huge part of Rugby and American Football; make them part of your tactical armoury too.
3. Know your home ground history
Make the scorer an integral part of your coaching team
Each ground has a statistical history that tells you how to win games of cricket. Most teams have a scorer, but how many Coaches use the scorer as a member of their support staff?
Important questions that can reveal tactical advantages are:
- What is the average winning score batting 1st?
- What score guarantees you a win batting first?
- How many boundaries are scored per 20 overs?
- What number of boundaries per innings guarantee me a win?
- What is the scoring ball% that gives me a 80% chance of winning T20 on my ground?
- Which bowler types are most effective on my ground?
The list is endless, yet the answers should inform your strategy in selection, deployment of bowlers, batting orders and roles within the team.
After all, you do play half your games at home so it's vital that you know how to win there!
You will be amazed at how confidence rises when your home ground is a fortress. The cricket being played increases in quality and the smell of silverware brings the best out of your cricketers!
4. Use short boundaries and wind assisted hitting
How many times do we watch players getting caught out 5 yards in from the longest boundary or holing out into a game force wind?
Too often if you ask me!
It's vital to play the conditions and to use the elements to your best advantage. In the warm up matches to the 2010 T20 World Cup, I watched Ireland lose to New Zealand by 40 runs.
New Zealand won at a canter by maximising the impact of the elements. Kiwi batters hit as many balls as possible downwind and Daniel Vettori asked his bowlers to ensure that Ireland hit as many balls as possible into the howling wind.
It was basic cricket at its basic best yet ensured a comfortable NZ win against a side that are more than capable of an upset.
Similarly, Somerset played all 4 home group matches in the 2005 T20 Cup On the same pitch with a 60 yard boundary on one side and a 110 yard boundary on the other.
The aim was to hit to the 3 shortest sides of the ground when batting, and make the opposition hit to the long boundary as much as possible when bowling.
Our fastest fielders patrolled the long boundaries and we squeezed the opposition into submission. Ian Blackwell - the competitions highest wicket taker that year - bowled all his home overs from one end into the 110 yard boundary.
Somerset qualified for the quarter-finals based on their home performances and ended up winning the trophy later that summer.
These simple tips can turn games: streetwise winning cricket at its best.