IS Twenty20 cricket a batsman’s game?
Perhaps not an age old conflict, but one that has reared its ugly head in the past decade.
The analysts of the world would lean towards a batsman bias due to high run and strike rates, fielding restrictions and the myth that bats are getting better while the grounds get smaller.
Ask a batsman and he’ll disagree entirely of course, but let’s be honest, is a batsmen ever wrong? Not in their eyes!
So why do we see bowlers succeed to the extent that they do?
Why are Lasith Malinga, Dirk Nannes or Sunil Narine worth their weight in gold in this supposed batsman’s game?
Any bowler that has success in T20s has a simple plan.
Play to their strengths, do what works for them and not what works for the batsmen.
In total fairness, Dirk bowling 150km/h into your ribs and Lasith trying his best to break your foot can’t be much of a bowling weakness but that’s titled as their X factor.
The ability to follow their plans and execute them at will is what draws the bias closer to a bowler’s side.
How often in the longer form have we seen batsmen shut up shop, not play any shots and make it almost impossible to take wickets?
In T20 they have no option but to attack.
When shots are being played with intent to score, the smart bowlers lick their lips and cash in on wicket-taking opportunities.
Suck it and see. Start looking high and low for your talent, what you can execute that makes you a handful.
It’s a challenge that has to be accepted if we want to develop as T20 bowlers.
So if more and more bowlers are honing in on their specific talent, it can’t be that easy for batsmen.
All stats aside, the runs still need to be scored.
Players still have to walk out and score at a run a ball.
They still have to be able to turn singles into doubles and turn a good ball into a boundary.
A battle that, if opposed by a smart player, is as even as that of any other format.
I’m left scratching my head.
If the stats say its a batsman’s game, but many bowlers have manipulated the system and turned into their forte, who’s game is it?
The only answer I have is that of utter innocence.
It’s an optimist’s game.
Someone who sees a ball bowled as a chance to hit a boundary and a person who sees an attacking shot as a chance to take a wicket.
The person who will be hit for six and encouraged by the fact that it only just made it over the deep fieldsman and the person who edged one through a vacant slips region for four is jubilant with his efforts.
T20 cricket helps clearly define the border between a good shot and a good result and without optimism in both scenarios, resilience becomes frightfully difficult.
It’s up to the individual to decide who’s better suited to the game.
Contrary to popular belief it is a choice, no outcome is already written.
T20 giveth and T20 taketh away.