It seems strange to think that the more limited the format the more creative cricket has to become. Yet it can't be denied: The twenty over game has thrown up some of the most unique play since World Series Cricket.
This was highlighted to me most recently during the Cockspur Club Twenty20 finals, where the best amateur teams in the UK competed. There was a clear tactical gap between the professionals and the clubs. Here are some of the tricks I would have used if my side had reached the final 4 that were missing on the day:
- Bowl stump to stump. While fielding restrictions are in place, batsmen love balls outside off stump to throw their arms at. They are prepared to take the risk. As a bowler it's sensible to aim for off stump or middle and off to prevent this from happening.
- Mix it up. Twenty20 Bowling is about upsetting a batsman's timing and rhythm.Every seamer should be able to bowl stock length balls and yorkers, but to mix it up there needs to be at least one slower ball to call on. Ideally you will also be able to dig in a bouncer to really upset players who sit on the font foot.
- Use the crease. This applies to batsmen and bowlers. Bowlers can go wider on the crease to upset a batsman's angles. Batsman can stand deep in the crease if a bowler is using yorkers to turn them into half volley length or stand out of the crease to upset the natural length.
- Attack in the field. Nothing slows the scoring rate more quickly than wickets. Yet very often a captain will resort quickly to the 'no hope' field (5-4 off side split, short mid on and mid off if the restrictions are in place). Even if you are getting pasted you still need to think. Will a couple of slips work better? Will 6 on the off side get you a wicket? You always have options.
- Wear a helmet. I credit Glamorgan spinner Robert Croft with this idea, although it may not be his originally. When the wicketkeeper is standing up at one end and back at the other end it makes sense for him or her to leave their 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).
It makes sense when you think about it. Restriction breeds creativity. For example, if you had unlimited funds and wanted to get from London to Rome in 12 hours it would be easy. It takes a lot more creativity to do it with £10 in your pocket.
That's one of the elements I love about the short game. While longer formats are more interesting tactically, there are few innovations. Twenty20 throws up new ideas every year and that, at least, makes it fun to play.
What unique T20 tactics have you used to your advantage when you play?
Image credit: kkalyan