September 30, 2011

The Twenty20 candyshop

Nick Compton
The Twenty20 experience at the Champions League has exceeded all expectations

Arriving in Bangalore for the latest stage of the Champions League Twenty20 has been wonderful. Seven-star hotel treatment, touching shoulders with Sachin Tendulkar at the hotel bar and watching Chris Gayle strutting his stuff on the catwalk in the evening fashion show is a further reminder that this is not everyday life. Most of us are getting an insight into what Twenty20 cricket is offering and I can see why the likes of Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Yusuf Pathan don't pay too much attention to the longer format. Why would they?

It's interesting how my views have shifted slightly with regards to how I see the different formats of the game, from first-class cricket (whether that's four-day or Tests) to one-dayers and Twenty20, especially when it comes to how the game is potentially impacting Indian cricket. If you watched India in England recently it was nothing short of embarrassing. As soon as the ball moved, or was bowled quickly with any hint of aggression, their technique - and sometimes courage - was brought into question. And these weren't ordinary cricketers, yet many were made to look ordinary with the obvious exception of Rahul Dravid, who showed outstanding batsmanship.

However, over here many of the same batsmen step away, crash the ball clear over the boundary, earn millions of dollars and, what's more, they are huge celebrities. It begs the question; what is a good cricketer these days? The answer is multi-dimensional, of course, but how many can actually do it? Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis and Michael Hussey are three who spring to mind, otherwise there aren't a great deal of cricketers who excel in all three formats.

It has been clear for a while that Twenty20 has had - and is still having - a revolutionary impact on the game, raising questions, and some uncomfortable ones at that, about where it is all heading. Playing for three hours once every three or four days isn't very difficult. It's actually fun. The games are intense and fast and there are thousands of fans. Even though the stadiums haven't been packed, county players may experience this sort of atmosphere once or twice a season. Sometimes never. Yes, you are expected to whack a few out the ground, and there are often hugely pressurised situations such as our chase against Kolkata Knight Riders, but it's not a grind.

The debate then evolves towards what sort of cricket people want. It's not as simple as saying we are heading towards the fast-food culture of Twenty20 as opposed to the fine-dining of Test cricket. True cricketing connoisseurs still value Tests just like real foodies love a classy restaurant. Yet, there is no one-size fits-all and Twenty20 is proving a valuable tool to sell the game.

It's tempting to be drawn into the glitzy world that is currently surrounding us and wonder if it's the way to go. However, I still sit firmly with the older guard and regard temperament and the ability to face quality bowling - including pace, bounce and swing - as the real attributes to be a good cricketer.

Without a doubt, though, Twenty20 can instill great confidence in a player, which is invaluable. Having that freedom to forget about the stumps behind you, let go of inhibitions and think "what the heck," is a hugely liberating feeling. Maybe in trying to grind out county runs day-in and day-out that fear of failure has been too prevalent. In this tournament the cricket is played with a more raw instinct and a freer spirit.

One thing that is certain, however, is that this experience of Twenty20 at the Champions League has exceeded all expectations.

Nick Compton is playing for Somerset in the Champions League Twenty20

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  • Andrew on October 3, 2011, 2:02 GMT

    T20 doesn't quite do it for me, but its clear that it appeals to a different market than me. To that end T20 cricket is/will be an integral part of the whole of cricket. My only gripe is that the pay scale (primarily due to the IPL), is out of kilter with talent. Test supremacy should = the biggest pay day. Exceptions to this are pleyers like SRT, who thru grand Test performances, is a major marketing tool. However, players like Pollard (early in his career, & may someday become a Test player of note), gets paid way beyond his current standing, (IMO).

  • Rahul on October 2, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    Mr.Nick Compton courage and Technic is not always tested against moving quick ball under overcast conditions. You need the same courage and technic to counter the spinning and exploding deliveries from the rough with 5 fielders around the bat under the sweltering sun of the subcontinent. 100% agree with you that Pathans, Rainas and Kohlis are not great against the quick and moving ball but not so long ago English cricket team was all out against rookies from WI for 88 when pitch was made to resemble subcontinental conditions. That was also bit embarrassing.

  • John on October 1, 2011, 11:09 GMT

    GUYS - Re Hildreth , I sound like I'm really down on him. I believe he was the 2nd highest scorer in the domestic t20 which surprised me. I know he had one outstanding knock earlier in the group stages of the domestic t20 but each time I've seen him or looked at the scorecard he seems to have clogged the runrate up. Compton is similar but has managed to speed up his runrateand more importantly rotate the strike better. Even Trego has not been as dynamic with the bat recently. Maybe he feels he should play the anchor role , but it'll be interesting to see if he can revert to type if they lose RVDM and Buttler earlier. Re Gregory,it just seemed strange that they didn't play Kirby ahead of him to get used to conditions if they were always sending him home. Meschede's injury might indeed have strengthened the squad. I know LG was injured for much of the season so I hope that doesn't resurface. BTW thought LG showed great sportsmanship vs KKR when he signalled his catch was 6 straight away

  • Simon on October 1, 2011, 10:22 GMT

    Enjoyable article from Somerset's next Vic Marks!? Funnily enough Compton's Champions League performances epitomise the multi dimensional nature required of modern cricketers, being our 'stone waller' in 4 day cricket ala Boycott-Tavare, but also able to play with sensible agression, freedom and composure in T20's. If his performances continue I cant see him being left out next summer of the T20 squad. Snell and Jones out, Buttler and Kies in. Gregory retained for Meschede, didnt see his short spell against KKR, but looked awesome on paper! Compton very obviously the extra batsman in the side for Tresco. Very balanced squad, no superstars, but one or two will have to do something special against the pesky spiders. Indian writer on the other article got it all wrong about Compton and snell. And even said Jones was out of form! The guy has no previous form to compare with! brilliant effort by the young lad to kick start our innings.

  • Douglas on September 30, 2011, 21:07 GMT

    Somerset had to nominate players to send home before the qualifier started. Therefore, the management weren't allowed to use hindsight to let Gregory (and earlier Waller) stay. Meschede's injury has arguably strengthened the squad. I would say, however, there was a slight lack of cohesion in considering how the side would be balanced before the tournament started - nothing in the domestic,for example, suggested that Dibble or Hussain whom he replaced might make a 20/20 squad ahead of Gregory (with respect to these two players). I agree that it will probably just be Jones who makes way, although I wouldn't be surprised to see Kirby play somewhere down the line if an extra seamer is deemed necessary. More importantly, it is a pleasure to see a weakened Somerset holding their own, let alone getting three straight wins, and I'll be cheering for the county to keep impressing. Fingers crossed we can go all the way! (optimistic I know but where's the fun in anything else?)

  • Chris on September 30, 2011, 20:51 GMT

    @JG2704 I agree's he's been a bit inocuous so far by his standards but I doubt Hildreth will be dropped, he's a class act and had a very good domestic t20 season this summer. The somerset website seems to suggest that it's already been decided that Jones will be the batsman to drop out. Also it turns out Gregory's going to stay for the rest of the tournament because Craig Meschede's had to go home because of an injury

  • John on September 30, 2011, 19:44 GMT

    I really hope Somerset can continue their winning form. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Buttler out there. Also hope RVDM continues his superb form. Must have been a good buzz hitting the winning runs Nick. One thing - In the preview article it said that Jones and Comptin are the most likely to make way for Jos and Craig. Firstly , I thought Snell had been sent home along with Gregory. Should that mean that unless Somerset bring someone else in to change the balance of the side that only one batsman makes way. I feel it will likely be Jones but I'd say Hildreth should make way as he seems unable to even rotate the strike at times. Maybe he's due a good innings. Still don't understand why they dropped Gregory after he took 2-9 in 2 overs. If they were always going to be sending him home , then should they not have played Kirby in that match?

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