May 15, 2009

Mike Holmans

How IPL affects Test form

Mike Holmans

Five of the players involved in the Wisden Trophy series went to South Africa with the IPL, which many thought would be very poor preparation for playing Test cricket. So how have they done?

Ravi Bopara and Chris Gayle both both recorded similar figures, averaging about 28 with the bat at a strike rate of about 117. Gayle’s contributions were generally useful without being outstanding, while Bopara played one match-winning innings and some small ones. Both were thus moderately successful.

Bopara is the batting success story of the Tests so far. Gayle was going pretty well in the first innings at Lord’s before dragging one on, and was done by Anderson’s swing for a duck in the second.

Kevin Pietersen had a disappointing IPL, failing to record a hundred runs even in total over six innings. At Lord’s he was out first ball, beaten by a superb delivery from Fidel Edwards, who was the best bowler in the Test. Edwards had also been to the IPL, where his returns were adequate, being neither as impressive as Lasith Malinga’s nor as laughable as Andrew Flintoff’s.

The fifth was Paul Collingwood, who did not get a game in the IPL, and then looked out of touch during his brief Lord’s innings. Although not strictly relevant, Owais Shah also did a stint of training with an IPL team without getting on the field, and then returned to play 50-over cricket for Middlesex, lasting two and six balls in his two innings, the second of which realised one run.

Any competent statistician would point out that this is a very small sample from which to try and draw any conclusions, but the obvious one is that form is continuous from one form of the game to another. Gayle has always been more vulnerable to a swinging ball and Edwards is a better bowler when the ball swings, which accounts for the differences in their performances just as well as any other possible explanations, such as Gayle’s much-publicised wish to be somewhere else. If you play badly at Twenty20, you won’t immediately get better by playing in a Test, and if you don’t play at all, you’ll get out of touch.

What it definitely shows about Bopara, though, is that he is an adaptable and versatile batsman. He is quite content to watch and play quietly for periods as well as capable of mounting exciting assaults. He played good Twenty20 cricket in the IPL and then came back to play good Test cricket. The Australians will no doubt have noticed that he’s a good candidate for being caught at square leg when hooking poorly, but otherwise he seemed to make the transition entirely smoothly.

But is that not what one requires from any top player? Should there really be any surprise that a batsman can spot the differences in field settings when he is at the crease? Most of batting is knowing where the fielders are and attempting to hit the ball to where they aren’t while being cognisant of the sort of shot which is liable to cause the ball to go to them at catchable height and avoiding it. Attempting to whack every ball from a quick bowler over his head when there are four slips and a gully posted behind you is not clever cricket, and anyone worth picking in a Test match ought to be able to work that out without four weeks of rehabilitation from the adrenaline-fuelled stress of playing Twenty20.

What is essential in terms of preparation for playing well is being in good form and having your body adjusted to the correct time zone. In the end, being able to select your shots based on the merits of the ball, where the fielders are and what the state of the game is so basic that one wonders why anyone makes a fuss about the format it’s done in.

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Posted by gautam thakar on (May 24, 2009, 2:19 GMT)

Just take a look at how Dravid and Kallis have transformed themselves from last years edition of the IPL. They are positive, aggressive, scoring and yet are playing a game thats not all wham bam thank you ma'am. T-20 certainly has more of the 'lottery factor' and is more bastman friendly than other forms of the game but at the same time for quality players it will only add to their repertoire of skills. Read about it at www.thecricketnation.com which specialises on the T20 format

Posted by MRP on (May 19, 2009, 15:57 GMT)

All this talk about IPL or the T20 format ruining the forms of batsmen is absolutely rubbish. Inversley, it is also absolutely ridiculous to say that those who excell at the highest level of the game, Test Cricket, are more likely than not fail at the shortest format fo the game. IPL 2 has thrown all these notions out the window. Any batsmen that has solid basics and plays a technically correct game, can and should be able to adopt to any format of the game. Some of the best batsmen in the history of test cricekt, Dravid, Kallis, Tendulkar, Ponting, Sehwag to name a few, can easily adjust to any game or conditions. That what they do. even bowlers, Murlitharan and kumble for example. Plus this year's IPL has shown that players who have excelled in the longer and proper format have adapted well and in fact excelled at this game of glorified street "gully" cricket that is T20.

Cheers!

Posted by BASS 1298 on (May 19, 2009, 13:23 GMT)

Your view point is absolutely right.A good batsman will excel anywhere no mater whether they arrive the day before or a week before.It depends on the ability and the experience of the batsmen and of course his form.Ravi Bopara is in the forem of his life and cannot be halted by IPl or any other domestic tournament.So its just the matter of cricketing skills of the batsman.People are always there to lambass others so that they become the centre of attraction and a good cricketer just gets it through one ear and leaves it out through the other.

Posted by Allan on (May 18, 2009, 4:37 GMT)

Waterbuffalo, I think you need to worry about the aussies own performance in the ashes before casting dispersions on someone elses performance. They (aussies) look pretty undone to me...

Posted by waterbuffalo on (May 17, 2009, 18:55 GMT)

How many bouncers do you face in 20/20? Don't batsmen just plonk their front foot forward and swing away, knowing they will not get hit in the nose? Good batsmen will adjust, and poor batsmen will make mistakes that are more severe in Tests. It doesn't matter if you are out in 20/20, there are 11 batsmen for 20 overs, hence you can play with freedom and without pressure. Test Cricket is all about pressure, let's see how Bopara does in the 2nd inngs in the Ashes before we call him a Test Batsman, let alone a number 3.

Posted by giri on (May 17, 2009, 6:32 GMT)

ravi bopara has done well bocoz he arrived a week before the test. gayle trooped in 48 hours before the test, its no surprise he's failed miserably. it wud be interesting to see if the reverse holds good-does test form translate into T-20 form. gambhir had a fine series against NZ( he started out as a T-20 specialist) but he's struggled in the IPL. sarwan was a run-machine in the tests in WI but not a single franchise wanted him. again these examples are too limited to make a generalization.

Posted by Saurav Giri on (May 16, 2009, 14:15 GMT)

IF your theory rings true then.... bring back Haydos plz.. at least for the 20/20 wc

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