SANATH JAYASURIYA ON THE TRENDS IN IPL 2
WHEN Twenty20 cricket arrived a few years ago it was commonly felt that it would suit seam bowlers rather than spinners, big hitters rather than those batsmen with classic techniques, and young players rather than experienced pros. One week into the second IPL and those early predictions have been shown to be wide of the mark.
Indeed, we have witnessed three clear trends. First, spin has a huge role to play in T20 cricket. Second, on good pitches with a fair balance between bat and ball you cannot just slog. Thirdly, experience can be a precious commodity in this high-pressure format.
During the first week we have seen starring roles from several of the tournament’s older players. Sachin Tendulkar set the tone for the Mumbai Indians. Rahul Dravid, relieved of the captaincy, has been brilliant for Royal Challengers. Sourav Ganguly fired for the Knight Riders.
Adam Gilchrist has been on-song for Hyderabad and Mathew Hayden certainly does not look like he has been fishing and surfing these last few months since his retirement.
Of course, you need to be fit and athletic even if you are an oldie (like me). When you are in your mid to late 30s you need to work much harder on your fitness. But the key thing is that the experience you have gathered over the years helps navigate yourself through tight situations. As a batsman, your shot selection improves and your risk-taking is better calculated.
Seeing the spinners do well has also been very encouraging. This year there has been quite a bit of turn and bounce. That has helped even the parttimers like Kevin Pietersen and Yousuf Pathan. If you look at the stats for the best economy rates in the tournament you’ll notice that seven out of the top 14 bowlers are spinners. That’s terrific.
The great fear about T20 cricket was that we’d lose some of the variety that makes cricket so compelling. However, encouragingly, the trend we are seeing here in South Africa seems to be the opposite.