World Twenty20 Lessons: Group Stages | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

World Twenty20 Lessons: Group Stages

As I write this the group stages of the World Twenty20 2009 have just finished. What lessons can club players take from the tournament so far?

It's certainly been dramatic: The last ball thrilling opener, Australia crashing out, amazing batting and spinner's domination. Among the chaos of six hitting and stumps flying there have been some lessons all cricketers who play the shorter format to follow.

New shots

The spectacular shot of the tournament so far has to be Tillakaratne Dilshan's "genuflector", flicking the ball over his shoulder for a boundary into an unprotected area. It's a work of genius to go alongside the switch hit and multiple sweep variations.

Earlier in the tournament Chris Gayle biffed 88 in 50 balls, including the biggest six I have ever seen, without a reverse sweep in sight. He drove, pulled and cut his way to a winning platform.

While both men are rare talents, it's Gayle who young cricketers would do best to follow. He plays straight cricket shots with extreme power. He punishes the short ball. Despite playing in an orthodox way you can't set a field to him. That is, until they allow fielders on the top of the Oval pavilion to catch his 100m strikes.

Rise of the minnows

Scotland ran New Zealand close, Ireland beat Bangladesh and, most dramatically, Holland beat England in a last ball thriller at Lords in the opening match. It shows that Twenty20 levels teams more than any other format.

This gives you hope if you have a weaker side playing in a short format. The key for me is that you stay in the game as long as you can. The Dutch were particularly strong against England, keeping them down to a reasonable score then keeping up with the rate until the dramatic last over when anything could happen (and did).

We have discussed how a lesser team can beat a stronger one previously here.

However, the really good sides like South Africa showed how a strong side can crush a weaker one. The difference was that they made fewer mistakes when the pressure was on. Instead of letting the weaker team back in with indifferent batting and fielding they put their foot on the throat of Scotland and didn't let go until they had bowled them out 130 runs short.

Even when they struggled in the dead rubber against New Zealand they still had the mental strength to get over the line, a task that is all the harder when you know the result has no bearing on the tournament.

So the lesson is; if you have a strong team against a weaker side don't relax until you have finished them off.

Set a target or chase?

The trend in Twenty20 is to chase a total down. Nobody knows what a good score is when the bat is so dominant so teams are more comfortable with a set target in mind.

While this is sensible, there is an obvious exception: Sri Lanka. They have a very strong bowling line up, including two spinners with an economy rate under 6.3 and one of the best death bowlers in the world. So while the batsmen are no slouches, they would be better defending a target than chasing one.

That means the default option in very short games is to chase, but before you decide to bowl automatically upon winning the toss, take a look at your bowling line up. If it is much stronger than your batsmen then you might want to follow the Sri Lankan example.

What have you noticed?

I have not managed to watch every game of the tournament, so I'm interested in finding out thing things I have missed. What are your thoughts on the tournament so far? Will you be adopting any tactics in your own games?

Leave a comment and let us know.


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