Peter Roebuck
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Former captain of Somerset; author of It Never Rains, Sometimes I Forgot to Laugh and other books

Go back to the basics

The reason Australian batsmen are struggling to bat through a session is because they are caught up in the nonsensical new notions of Twenty20 technique

Peter Roebuck

February 2, 2011

Comments: 65 | Text size: A | A

Travis Birt during his 47 off 36 balls, New South Wales v Tasmania, Twenty20 Big Bash 2010-11, Sydney, January 19, 2011
The Twenty20 Big Bash is slowly becoming the marquee event of the Australian domestic summer, to the detriment of Australian cricket © Getty Images
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To talk to an Australia coach and to a 30-year-old former Shield player recently was to understand the challenges currently faced by those responsible for directing the game in this country. As in other arenas, a battle is on between the classical and the contemporary. Suffice to say the classical is in retreat. Wise nations and activities seek to strike a balance between the eternal and the present, seek to take the best from both.

The coach spends his time instructing selected youngsters in the techniques of the game. Except that those skills seem to have changed. Coaches chide any batsman allowing a ball to pass, and teach them to use the bottom hand not as an assistant but as the driving force. Youngsters are taught to open their hips and lift the ball.

Ignoring the traditions of local batsmanship, they are told to go forwards, anticipate and punish full deliveries. Is it any wonder that Australians keep hooking off the front foot or that the captain keeps losing his wicket to the shot?

Spinners are to be played from the crease. Hardly any of the younger brigade and previous few of the seniors can step down the pitch to dictate length to the tweakers. Most sit back and search for anything off line. Some of the batting against spin seen in local Twenty20 tournaments has been embarrassing, and the new Test men were often the worst offenders. Michael Clarke has dancing feet but the rest seem to be bogged in mud. Meanwhile the Poms use their feet confidently.

In the past English coaches tended to look at shoulders, head and grips. Australian counterparts always looked at the feet. They pointed out to their charges that the word footwork was well chosen, that the pegs were supposed to get to the pitch of the ball. Doug Walters was in many ways the archetypal Australian batsman, using his crease to cut and pull and going forwards only to drive.

As a result the coach says that batting in the country has never been in a worse state. Recently the national coaching staff asked him to identify and direct the next Test batsman. No one can name him with any certainty. Old hands glumly described this year's Under-16 competition as the worst they have seen, and did not think a single cricketer stood out from the pack.

Naturally the coach is downcast. Nor is he an old-timer inclined to grumble about modern youth and convinced the game reached its zenith 50 years ago. To the contrary he is a current cricketer. Now he has decided to go back to the basics, to tell his youngsters about leaving the ball, to teach them about using their feet against spinners but not to plunge forwards, and to never mind what higher authority instructs. All of these things can be practised in the nets. Has the game changed so much to render them irrelevant? Ask Alastair Cook.

Of course the IPL has been the cause of all these changes. Youngsters and their agents notice the money made by 21-year-olds in the auction and decide to follow in their footsteps. Accordingly they focus on aggressive skills, clouting yorkers, improvising flicks, developing various slower balls and delivering slower bumpers and so forth, never mind that it is really a load of hoo-ha, as is the IPL.

Never mind either the saying that the wise man builds his house on strong foundations. Years ago your scribe was advised by one of these new-fangled types intent on defying the principles of physics and rewriting the coaching manual to stop telling batsmen to practise with the top hand and instead to exhort them to hit with the bottom. By way of reply I pointed out that Sachin Tendulkar, Steve Waugh and Jacques Kallis constantly practised this way at the crease and in the nets and that the day they changed, the rest ought to follow, and not a moment before.

 
 
Suddenly Shield cricket is part of an efficient production line constructed to produce not a steady supply of battle-hardened and highly skilled players but a collection of frisky lightweights
 

Apparently it was all old hat. Kallis and Tendulkar batted superbly in last year's IPL. Proper batsmen master a method and then adapt to conditions. Moreover it is much easier to go down than up, to go from five days to 20 overs. The recent Ashes series was fought between a team with solid batting techniques and a bunch of fly-by nights masquerading as Australian batsmen. It was not the fault of the newcomers. What other world do they know?

The conversation with the current cricketer was no less disconcerting. A reliable and respected Shield player, he had been pushed out of cricket because his game was unsuited to Twenty20. A specialist pace bowler with a good record, he did not offer much value in the field or with the willow and so was considered surplus to requirements. According to him Shield cricket has in some states become little more than a rehearsal for the potentially lucrative Big Bash Twenty20 campaign.

It is an alarming notion. Long regarded as the toughest domestic competition in the cricketing world, the Sheffield Shield has been reduced in some eyes to little more than an opportunity to get players in form for Twenty20. It's a dangerous notion. Suddenly accurate but defensive spinners are of more use than risky wrist spinners who might one day become something. In a trice the handy allrounder holds his place in the four-day side. Suddenly Shield cricket is part of an efficient production line constructed to produce not a steady supply of battle-hardened and highly skilled players but a collection of frisky lightweights. Further down the line it is the same. Youth is glorified. Attack is everything.

Defensive skills don't matter. Leaving the ball alone, keeping it on the ground, countering the swinging or turning ball, building an innings, gradually getting on top of an attack, using feet to spinners and so forth has in many places been discarded. The rock-star lifestyle seems to have turned heads.

And Australia wonders why it cannot produce any batsmen capable of lasting a session let alone an entire day. India, the other nation affected by the new batting brought by Twenty20, will soon be suffering from the same blight. South Africa and England will top the Test rankings because that is their focal point in the middle and in the nets.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

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Posted by 5wombats on (February 5, 2011, 23:21 GMT)

This is all very well, but Roebuck is largeing it a bit. It is generally true that batting technique is nowhere near what it was in the 60's & 70's. Now that may be due to T20 or it may be due to 21st century people having short attention spans not being prepared to put in the practice. Back then pitches were uncovered and there were no helmets - you needed good technique, or you'd end up in hospital. Nowadays wearing a few is common at any level of cricket. It's easier to be attacking these days - the pitches are sweet and bats are heavy. However I do agree that Test cricket is being wrecked by T20. Test cricket should drive all the other forms, but T20 $ are moving the game in the direction of short attention span and poor technique as a result. Aussie batting was shockingly bad in The Ashes - but as @hyclass points out many top Aus players don't do T20. Most of Englands top guys don't do T20 either - but the gap was vast. The problem seems to be an Australian one.

Posted by ygkd on (February 5, 2011, 22:21 GMT)

I have a confession. I can't bat in any orthodox fashion. My best "scoring shot" would be the reverse sweep. Judge me on that alone and I'm okay. But you can't just do one thing and be any good. Sure, Bradman pulled off the front foot - but mostly, he pulled off the back. Boycott wrote of general front-foot play but played a lot off the back foot. But then, Boycott was really saying that you shouldn't get stuck on the back foot. In other words, if you can only play one way you'll get found out in tough cricket. And the toughest cricket is long-form. This is what Roebuck is on about. Of course, playing in modern unorthodox fashion, you'll get runs, sometimes big runs. But you won't do it often enough to win a Test series. And sure, orthodox players have form slumps, but that doesn't mean over the long haul they won't do better in Tests than T20 types who can only pull off the front foot. T20 types have no choice how they play on any given day and neither would I. That's why I'm rubbish.

Posted by waspsting on (February 5, 2011, 18:19 GMT)

@Hyclass - thanks for sharing that video, its very good. Very few batsmen pull of the front foot - Viv did occasionally, can't think of anyone else. Every picture/video I've seen of Bradman pulling has him on the back foot (even one where he finishes behind the stumps after the shot - i think its in the book we were talking about, too). he wasn't the best judge of his own batting. in Art of Cricket, he talked a lot about getting forward, but everyone who saw him play talked about his back play as his great strength, and how he never came forward if he could help it (Boycott is another who goes on about "getting forward", which he rarely did himself) I agree with you completely about Roebuck's article - sweeping generalizations sums it up. Not really interested in that - more on the nuances of Bradman's play. I also agree that being "attacking" is not a fault - just have brains while your doing it and you'll do fine. (or your Sehwag, and do fine anyway)

good talking to you, Cheers,

Posted by Vatto on (February 5, 2011, 7:17 GMT)

Mr.Peter is so sad that aussies are not producing cricketers with good techniques. The fact is, India who produced Vengsarkar,Manjrekar and Tendukar has also produced Srikkanth, Sewhag and others who have been successful in both forms of the game. The fact is mental strength matters a lot than useless technique. Can peter say that watson needs to be removed and ponting should lead aussies with clarke? Useless... Absolutely useless article

Posted by hyclass on (February 5, 2011, 6:41 GMT)

To those who doubt that Bradman played it,and in rebuttal to Peter Roebucks' assertion that the front foot pull is a product of 20/20 cricket, rather than a legitimate test scoring stroke, please refer to the youtube video of 6 minutes duration(deveshone) on Bradman by putting 'Bradman batting' into your search engine.At the 4 minute and 7 second mark, while demonstrating a basic selection of his strokes,the man himself clearly instructs a front footed pull in which his only movement is forward and across.It is the only pullshot he uses for the camera suggesting that it is his favoured stroke and at least a common part of his repertoire.Peter Roebuck provides no supporting evidence for any of his views.He merely alludes conspiratorily to unknown parties,coaches and countries whom he claims represent his point of view.It should be clear by now, that when australia was freed up to attack in the one day game,they once again became a force as mental clarity returned over coaching insanity

Posted by hyclass on (February 5, 2011, 5:51 GMT)

Bradmans philosophy in his,Farewell to Cricket,was to score runs as quickly as possible to allow his bowlers time to bowl the opposition out.His stated preference was for bowlers with a high strike rate rather than containment value.Quick wickets and quick runs.Bradman never defended in a match unless there was no possiblity of winning and never advocated defence as a policy.While it is true that well considered defence is a vital tool of batting,great batsmanship has always relied upon seizing the initiative as quickly as possible.Bradmans pull without getting into line(right foot back,pivot,weight transferred well forward-p58/59)is for balls on the line of the stumps-a high risk shot.He also used the front foot cut-P46/47.Bradman stated that he was known more for his pull stroke than any other P56,"...but then who wants to play cricket at all if not prepared to take a chance occasionally?"P59.3-4 years of appalling coaching and selection is at fault-not attack,not defence,not 20/20.

Posted by waspsting on (February 4, 2011, 16:17 GMT)

@hyclass - In the Art of Cricket, Bradman emphasizes that the hallmark of batsmanship is a strong defense, and O'Reilly plus everyone else noted how strong Bradman's defense was. (he also does not demonstrate a front foot pull shot - he shows two pull shots, one where you go back and across and then pull, the other where you just pull without moving into line). There's nothing wrong with being aggressive, but you have to know how to defend too.

Posted by hyclass on (February 4, 2011, 10:50 GMT)

If anyone has read Bradmans',Art of Cricket,they will see him demonstrating the front foot pull shot.Bill O'Reilly who knew him well, described him as having the widest range of attacking strokes of any batsman ever.The idea that lack of footwork or overattacking is to blame for australias woes is absurd.Hussey failed for years until he remembered to attack and was again, a great player.Watson lacked endurance as a test player and was always at his best when attacking.Hughes technique was natural,not contrived for 20/20 and good enough at 20 to flay the Sth Africans.The australian team failed this ashes because of appalling selection and worse coaching.Someone had told them to let balls go.Why.If your natural game is to hit that ball then do so.Not doing so creates doubt and hands the advantage to the bowling side.It was awful to watch.Clarke insisted as captain that everyone should play their own game in the second innings.It was an undoubted rebuke of the shameful coaching staff.

Posted by Mervo on (February 4, 2011, 10:26 GMT)

Pretty accurate stuff. I think we need to start recruiting from South Africa too.

Posted by hyclass on (February 4, 2011, 10:14 GMT)

Typical Peter Roebuck hyperbole. Wise nations, he says-which wise nations?Coaches teaching unorthodox techniques-which coaches?sweeping generalisations without foundation.20/20 is not the cause of australias trouble. Ponting was out of form for 4 years without being dropped.The two tasmanian selectors and Hilditch allowed it to become Pontings personal vendetta when his form should have seen him dropped 2 years ago.This excused Hussey being retained while totally out of form for 3 years and allowed the Doherty farce.It also saw North retained on the weakest excuse-all older players.Hodge was dropped with an average of 55. Hughes was dropped with an average of 58 and then twice more.The coaches ruined his batting.At 20, a world beater,he is only 22 and a strokeless shadow. David Hussey with an amazing record couldnt get a game.Hauritz was dropped. O'Keefe couldnt get a game.Australia failed because of appalling selection and terrible coaching that mired the team in doubt. Sack them.

Posted by PutMarshyOn on (February 4, 2011, 10:08 GMT)

I don't always agree with you Sir but on this occasion our views align. The fast finance feeding frenzy that is IPL is the worst thing that has happened to cricket. Ever. Kentucky Fried Cricket that clogs up the mastery and increases the chances of art disease.

What makes you think England's youngsters will be deaf to the ringing of coins in the East? I wouldn't say that the batting reserves are chocca with budding Huttons. Bowling looks healthier, though who is Swann's successor?

Posted by syedbob on (February 4, 2011, 10:07 GMT)

Excellent article, Peter Roebuck has actually told the truth. Cricket Australia should stop this big bash and other T20s otherwise rest of the young talent will also not learn good batting techniques and will ultimately fall in the test which is the ultimate form of cricket. Please act soon CA

Posted by otaku-dono on (February 4, 2011, 0:09 GMT)

fantastic article, and i completely agree.

Posted by Farce-Follower on (February 4, 2011, 0:05 GMT)

Very good assessment. India for example does have replacements for Dravid, Tendulkar and VVS. But they are being ignored. The fact that they have plumped for Suresh Raina instead of Badrinath is an example. Terrfic talents like Manish Pandey are being shown that salvation lies in T20. India will be in serious trouble by 2012.

Posted by knowledge_eater on (February 3, 2011, 20:29 GMT)

@ Jason Scott that's the point, I want to make. If people are being chosen on their 4/5 day domestic matches performances, then what's the point of claiming T20 is producing this batsman crop? Why dividing fans! I am warning people especially journalists stop dividing fans, it is going to make people to choose between formats. It's bad bad bad sign of cricket, when fans are split. In fact, the dividing will kill interest in particular format. Selection was the key for Australia. I would better write an article, how many are you picking your best domestic batsman for Test? If that starts to happen. Lot of things will clear mind. Last time I checked people select their best players who have performed well in domestic non-t20!? Right? Then, what's the worry here? How about we focus on that. Every player wants longevity in cricket, 2-3 seasons of good $ contract of T20 will not do for whole life, and every player knows it. If they don't, they won't survive longer as a cricketer anyhow.

Posted by crikbuff on (February 3, 2011, 18:23 GMT)

One of the best articles in recent times. Peter Roebuck sums up the malades of T20, and especially the falling standard of cricket. IPL is cancer for cricket, and if it continues to hijack so much attention, the quality of cricket will diminish, and we will never see high quality cricket in the future

Posted by mustufa on (February 3, 2011, 15:35 GMT)

Interesting article, and just to point out something, this is something Pakistan went into probably before anyone else did, they started creating these hitters who lasted for 5 overs. Years went by with struggle, finally they realized what was wrong, and went back to guys like Azhar Ali and Assad Shafiq for test cricket, who are all players about footwork and determination, and not abt flair. Kamran Akmal gave way to Adnan Akmal less accomplished with the bat in the test game, but an awesome keeper.

Posted by Vilander on (February 3, 2011, 15:29 GMT)

good article, if australia is placing more importance on biog bash than shefild shield then they deserve this bashing that they got against england, india certainly burnt their hands placing more importance on ipl form over ranji. it remains to be seen if we will see some change in this trend.

Posted by popcorn on (February 3, 2011, 13:54 GMT)

This is an excellent article by Peter Roebuck, decrying he Slam -Bang T20 nonsensensical way of playing cricket. I however do not agree with THAT pART OF HIS ARTICLE WHERE HE SAYS,"The recent Ashes series was fought between a team with solid batting techniques and a bunch of fly-by nights masquerading as Australian batsmen". Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Siimon Katich do not play T20.They are proper,technically correct batsmen, not masqueraders.

Posted by popcorn on (February 3, 2011, 13:31 GMT)

At last! One more Cricketer besides "Whispering Death" Michael Holding has come out openly to show how Twenty20 is killing the game. Peter Roebuck is not just a well -respected Cricket Writer -he played cricket and captained Somerset.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (February 3, 2011, 11:36 GMT)

Peter Roebuck has been a privileged captain of a county side in England that has had among other luminaries playing for them, Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar. Quite obviously he was a respected captain on the county circuit in his playing days,apart from being a pretty prolific writer thereafter. He was particularly objective and effective when he wrote post the India Australia Sydney Test in 2007,over monkeygate It is another matter that what he wrote was a unpalatable for most Australians but it was objective and did not pull back any punches despite him now residing and working in Australia. I have read most of his articles and have always found them wholesome and witty.On occasions though like all of us he gets it wrong like he has done here with the title. It does give one the impression that he is addressing the plight of the crop of Australian batsmen which failed in the Ashes of 2011 as having been the result of playing too much 20/20 cricket.

Posted by longrun on (February 3, 2011, 5:17 GMT)

good article. i'd rather watch dravid bat than warner any day of the week. problem is kids aren't growing watching and appreciating tight techniques. and perhaps the new bats and their ability to allow miss hits to go for 4 or 6 don't help. Maybe CA need to increase the prize money for winning the shield and decrease it for t20 to increase importance of longer form of game. oh and SSRajan - nope, never heard of any of those blokes, are they basket ballers?

Posted by Boba_Fett on (February 3, 2011, 2:50 GMT)

It has been fascinating watching the Big Bash games this year, but unfortunately in a very depressing way. With the exception of Usman Khawaja, the lack of footwork by batsman all across Australia is breathtaking. About the only time there is any footwork at all it is when the batsman does the inevitable back away to leg, regardless of where the ball is being bowled.

However, one slight sign of encouragment has been the effort of David Warner to restrain himself slightly if a few wickets have fallen around him. It hasn't always been successful, but at least there appears to be some intent to do more than try to slog every single ball over the fence. A (very) small ray of hope perhaps?

Posted by HatsforBats on (February 3, 2011, 0:54 GMT)

It is truly sad and astonishing if coaches are now glossing over the benefits of developing a strong technique for the foundation of a long stay at the crease in exchange for a quick 20-30 off a couple of overs. How could anyone with cricket experience be so short-sighted as to deny their young players the chance to master the art of batting? T20 is somewhat to blame for the change in coaching methods, and the riches of the IPL are certainly alluring, so perhaps the Cricket Australia/ICC should do domething to counteract the shift in balance. Introducing monetary rewards (scholarships etc.) to juniors and incentives for performances in Shield cricket would help young players realise that the IPL is not the only way to a comfortable financial future.

Posted by   on (February 3, 2011, 0:52 GMT)

A whole lot of people seem to be missing the point here. It is not the Watson's, M Hussey's and Clarke's Peter is referring too. They all developed their techniques well before the onset of 20/20. Watson and Hussey especially do well in 20/20 because they developed the basics well first. The problem is the next generation that is coming through now, the Smith's and Hughes' who have rubbish techniques because they have been brought up in the 20/20, money-first environment. You can adapt a solid "test-style" technique to do well in 20/20, just look at Tendulkar. The same cannot be said for the reverse.

Posted by JD60 on (February 2, 2011, 23:15 GMT)

Agree completely Peter, but I have to say that even as a slogging technique the one currently in vogue among Australian batsmen is useless. All this stepping away to the leg side hoping to hit over cover generates batsmen like Steve Smith and Phil Hughes who can't even deal with a half volley on leg stump. Clarke, White, Haddin and Dave Hussey have been suffering from this all series and all are good natural hitters who would be fine if they stood still in normal batting stance.

Posted by ygkd on (February 2, 2011, 21:33 GMT)

Why learn to do things properly, when you only need to play just one shot, or at best, 3 variations of the same shot with the same awful footwork? Learning to do things properly takes longer to master and you need to be a scoring superstar at thirteen now. No late developers required. Using your feet? Sure youth coaches say they want it but where is the evidence that they actually do look for it? The best-techniqued kids at U16 don't necessarily get picked anyway. It's all statistics and local politics. As for the pace bowlers, they can't bowl to left handers, can't consistently bowl a tight line. Spinners, though, must bowl a tight line and never, ever worry about variations and spin. And the keepers - who could be happy with the general standard there? Why do I say this? Because I'm a parent who thought that T20 would dilute standards and that youngsters who could do the things that Peter Roebuck says they should do would now be in demand. Now I find they aren't wanted after all.

Posted by Number_5 on (February 2, 2011, 21:11 GMT)

Whilst I dont always agree with Peter being a regular listener to ABC radio during summer here in Australia and still to this day finds his comments with regards to Australias behaviour during the infamous monkeygate test offensive, i do enjoy the quesitons and angles he puts forward both in his articels and on air. This article sums up very well Australia's situation. Regardless of the number of players we have lost over the last 5 years the fact remains the current crop of young batsman look more like woodchoppers that test players and the majority of young bowlers less able to produce a decent spell of bowling than my 10 y.o son. Sure the big bash is popular in summer, tailor made for the holiday season, but Test cricket will still and always remain the pinicle of the sport. Listening to most (not all) coaches of my young son and his teamates say" its not about technique anymore just let them bat" fills me with grave concern. Cricket in this country needs a major overhaul. FAST.

Posted by Meety on (February 2, 2011, 20:42 GMT)

It's a trade off. I think the run chase last night (334 with 4 or 5 balls to spare), was a classic case of how T20 "temperment" has helped ODIs, that being said - D Hussey & Pup missed alot of scoring opportunities by backing away - where if they stood still they had both sides of the wicket to hit to.

Posted by   on (February 2, 2011, 20:38 GMT)

Well the same wont happen in India since we are a passionate nation. And too self righteous. So even though every cricketer would want to earn big bucks in IPL their parents coaches and friends would tell them, you must play for india.

Posted by py0alb on (February 2, 2011, 20:28 GMT)

It is indeed a serious issue, and a good article. The real answer, surely, is not to demonise T20 cricket - it's an excellent game in its own right. The real answer - and this applies in every major cricket playing nation in the world - is to try and tap into the interest in Test cricket and somehow raise the interest in the domestic longer form of the game; to make it an end in itself, rather than simply a means to an end - be that end Test cricket or domestic T20.

Posted by SSRajan on (February 2, 2011, 20:16 GMT)

@vswami : Couldn't agree with you more. I wonder what's with the obsession with the IPL bashing? Looks more like sour grapes to me. And this coming from someone who never rose to anything more than mediocre level in his own playing days. Hard to believe he captained the likes of SMG and IVAR at Somerset. What were they thinking at the county?? No wonder England never won any iCC event till recently.

Posted by SSRajan on (February 2, 2011, 20:12 GMT)

@diri : Doom for Indian cricket u say? It means you either do not follow Indian cricket or do not care, which is probably why you can't think of any opther names then Suresh Raina, even though there is obvious talent available in domesic cricket. Ever heard of the following names : Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Cheteshwar Pujara, Abhinav Mukund, Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, Virat Kohli?? No? Thought not??

Posted by knowledge_eater on (February 2, 2011, 20:09 GMT)

Can someone explain me, how come Mike Hussey, Shane Watson and Haddin (proclaimed T20 specialists were top scorer of recent Ashes) and players who are technically Golden for test cricket temperament Ponting Clarke North and Katich failed?

Posted by yogi2607 on (February 2, 2011, 19:20 GMT)

I agree largely with the article except for the future he predicts for Ind,Aus,Eng,Sa. The effect of T20 on batting techniques is something which will be felt globally Sa and Eng wont be immune to it in anyway. Eng's commanding batting performance in the ashes is also due to the fact that Aus bowling was mediocre at best except at Perth and we saw what eng did then. Coming to SA if they are so good then why did they fold for 130 odd in durban against a supposedly weak/mediocre indian attack?? n had kallis not saved them in the 3rd test playing exceptionally in both innings they would have lost the series. On d whole i agree that if measures are not taken to ensure priorities are right while coaching youngsters there will be a general decline in quality all over the world.

Posted by batusai666 on (February 2, 2011, 17:24 GMT)

Peter, you are spot on here. Anyone who says otherwise is totally fooling himself and probably turned a blind eye to the state of the game. This is not a new problem, but one which had been brewing for a long time. Those in authority (who usually don't know enought of the game to start with!) are of the rediculous notion that proper technique is not necessary for the shorter versions of the game (Tendullkar, Kallis, Lara, Ganguly clearly disprove this). I myself am a modest village cricketer, and I can tell you that the batsman who shows emphasis on grip, proper use of the top hand and good footwork is the solid, reliable rock in any side. Sadly, even though he often enables his team to win nemurous matches, he is often chastised and even overlooked for the young, wild hitter, who scores quick runs in 2 or three overs.....every 8-10 games or so......sad, quite sad....

Posted by Nipun on (February 2, 2011, 16:51 GMT)

South Africa,too,don't seem to have their new generation ready to take over from the likes of Kallis,Smith,De Villiers & all.The new SA cricketers have first class statistics comparable to the new Australian cricketers.Is it the case of not enough talent or wrong choice of formats? I ain't too sure.Indians,the pioneer of the T20 craze,seem to have a stable new generation in the form of Pujara,Rahane,Mukund,Kohli-at least in terms of statistics.Apart from Callum Ferguson & Usman Khawaja,I can't recall any Australian new generation batsman with seemingly sound basics.I can't recall ANY new generation SA batsman with decent track records.

Posted by Sanjay_Dixit on (February 2, 2011, 16:23 GMT)

I entirely agree with Peter. It is far easier going down than up. Cricketers with proper basics can always adapt to the demands of 50 over and 20 over cricket, but not vice versa. There may be only exceptions, but they are only exceptions, and exceptions only prove the rule. The way to go is to have more days' cricket at the Junior level and better still, not let the Juniors play the shorter version.

Posted by Kaze on (February 2, 2011, 14:28 GMT)

@Majr What on earth does that have to do with this article ?! This article misses the point of reality. Australia have enough players for the future and there is nothing wrong with their technique. The problem is you are trying to replace a whole lot of great players with inexperienced younger ones, of course they won't look as good! It's not as if the likes of Langer, Hayden, Waugh's and Warne were instant successes. Steve Waugh played 27 tests before he got a test hundred. Warne had 1/300 odd. You need to give players time to develop. A lot of pressure is being put on Johnson, even with his erratic ways Johnson still has a very good record. He recently missed out on being the 2nd bowler in test history after Warne to get 50 wkts in a calendar year for 3 successive years. One also need to note that a bowler matures around 29-30, just look at Lee pre and post 30. Clarke also has come in for unfair criticism while still in his 20s and averaging 47. 3 years on will be a different story.

Posted by JonB007 on (February 2, 2011, 14:23 GMT)

Twenty20 and bad pitches are ruining the sport.

Posted by couchpundit on (February 2, 2011, 13:10 GMT)

Hi Peter,

Its funny you would say that India will soon face the same problem Australians are having. First Indians are playing as many T20 so i wonder they are able to go through a slump in home like Australians did. So your Prediction on that Count doesnt make sense. Although if you are hoping they would fail sooner or later which is bound to happen because of nature of the game.

Most Important thing about Indians or any Sub-continent Player is Players from this part of the World are "Flair" players who from the word go play with instincts and not on text book approach, thats why you see big names/legends are common commodity here. We dont have it in our DNA to play by the book except for Manjrekar's,Dravid's and Jayawardene's(thats why they are not respected as much as other swashbucklers). So Indian's wont worry about T20 affecting the technique.Didnt they have players like srikanth,kambli,Yuvraj,Sehwag, Badade(you wont even remember him) even before T20 concept? rest my case

Posted by   on (February 2, 2011, 13:01 GMT)

Wait...did someone just compare Twenty20 to snooker?!

Posted by sumitfreak on (February 2, 2011, 12:25 GMT)

Well you should have just waited for another day. This win is a perfect display of technique , organisation and belief in their batting by Australia!!

Posted by SachinIsTheGreatest on (February 2, 2011, 12:21 GMT)

Mr.Roebuck was on track till he was on about techniques. He quickly derailed once he got the IPL into the equation.

I would hazard a guess that the best Test batsmen Australia have are Watson and Hussey. They certainly play a lot at the IPL. Clarke doesn't but it seems to hardly doing his technique any good. He still cannot figure out where his off stump is.

Among the young Indian batsmen - Pujara, Rahane and Dhawan have not done too well in the IPL but then their techniques are more suited to the longer format which is why those three could be in the Indian test team ahead of Sharma and Raina in the near future.

Blaming the IPL is fashion but it has to be so in some perspective. Or you could end up sounding as silly as that newspaper in NZ which blamed the BCCI for NZ v Pakistan not having the UDRS!!

Posted by Percy_Fender on (February 2, 2011, 11:00 GMT)

There seems to much concern about the future of Indian cricket when the famed middle order calls it a day. It is definitely understandable amongst Indians. But I would like to point out that before the foursome of Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly came together, India had the likes of Azharuddin, Tendulkar, Manjrekar and Sidhu. They were pretty good but India did not do very well when not playing at home. despite their presence. I have never been able to fathom why because they had a decent bowling attack as well in the early 90s.Dravid and Ganguly and Laxman came in 96 and Tendulkar was there from 89. Sehwag came in only in 2001 and that is when India really started winning. So maybe it is Sehwag's batting that changed it all for India apart from the captaincy of Ganguly and then Dhoni.The point I wish to make is that while the big five will not be around, India does have a promising crop in Gambhir, Pujara,Rahane,Kohli,Mukund,Pandey and others who are good technically.

Posted by sjohnson1 on (February 2, 2011, 10:24 GMT)

To Mr/Ms Aubmic The fact that Hussey was the only one actually trying didn't help either.

Posted by John-Price on (February 2, 2011, 10:21 GMT)

20 over cricket is snooker; test cricket is billiards. Look what happened to billiards.

Posted by tfjones1978 on (February 2, 2011, 10:11 GMT)

When I read through the dribble from these responses, I find it amazing the shots at Australia. Australia lost 15 international players in 2.5 years from 6 months late 2006 until early 2009. Australia had heaps of back up batsmen and bowlers, but when it came their turn, they either retired (eg: McGill), got hurt a lot (Lee & S Clarke) or just lost form. Australia have been loosing in the last 2 years because in the last 2 years its been Aust A vs other teams that will loose their best players soon. SA, India and Eng will have a similar situation soon.

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (February 2, 2011, 10:05 GMT)

I remember last year when Mohammad Yousuf came out and stated that T20 cricket was hampering the techniques of the youngsters and "proper" Test batsmen would be few and far between. He was ridiculed a little then, told to keep quiet by Dhoni in particular. Looks like his words were spot on. T20 cricket is never going to generate batsmen who are able to bat for long periods of time, it's just not inherent in T20 cricket.

Posted by Clyde on (February 2, 2011, 9:37 GMT)

A batsman who has no endurance doesn't interest me. Trevor Bailey, Jim 'Burke were exciting players because the name of the game is staying in and getting the other side out. The number of runs is secondary. Roebuck has written well and revealed a lot. The answer to Australia's problems is, however, is basic lack of understanding of what cricket is. If we think the newer kinds of games played on cricket fields in the summer are cricket, we are mistaken. This is why baseball is not called cricket.

Posted by   on (February 2, 2011, 9:12 GMT)

@aditya: yes, mate, you are right. But you forget sachin and kallis are already established test players. The matter of the fact is, in the SS, players coming through mostly wanna go along the way of Pollard or Warner or Rohit Sharma and earn quick bucks. The test cricket should be the most important form of the cricket. But, with the amount of money being offered in T20, it is very hard for players to play test cricket and earn at best 1/10th of the IPL salary.Whereas, Pollard gets $1m for 4 overs of bowling and 6-7 overs of batting, whereas Hughes gets 12000 odd aud for a test match. Difficult to choose , isnt it?

Posted by   on (February 2, 2011, 8:21 GMT)

well Aus can blame IPL for their trbl with players AFTER the relegate KFC big bash to the sidelines..KFC BB has been given topmost priority by CA since it began and it shows everywhere

Posted by Vatto on (February 2, 2011, 8:17 GMT)

This is a ridiculous article. England and South Africa have their own T20 league. The sad fact is, that Australia doesnt produce good cricketers with a good technique. In india even if we lose sachin, dravid and laxman (of course they are impossible to replace) we have a Vijay, Pujara, Abhnav Mukund, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli who can fill in their boots and over a period of time settle in nicely. They all have a good or excellent technique and also play well in all 3 forms of the game... So just because Aussies dont produce good cricketers doesnt mean its the same everywhere. This is the agony of an australian who is watching the world conquerers get hammered by all other teams...

Posted by diri on (February 2, 2011, 7:48 GMT)

IPL is killing Indian test cricket. I see doom for team India when Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid and Laxman retire. Who is going to take their place? Suresh Raina??? What a joke

Posted by Harlequin. on (February 2, 2011, 7:37 GMT)

@majr - i am not sure the article is really referring to veterans like Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey changing their whole technique to suit T20, I think it is referring more to the fact that when developing a cricketers technique, the coaches focus is on T20 more than test matches. @vswami - England may play more T20 than anyone else, but no-one in England cares about it! It was popular at the start (which is what the admins are still clinging to), but now the English public can see it for what it really is - mutant baseball lottery. And yes, everyone should take every possible opportunity to bash the IPL and all its rapaciousness, vulgarity and shortsightedness.

Posted by   on (February 2, 2011, 7:35 GMT)

I agree to a certain extent. A good player adapts to all forms, and Sachin, and Kallis, etc. who have been successful in T20 cricket started out playing Tests. I disagree that T20 is rubbish. It's a matter of adapting your game. In India there are similar issues in domestic cricket -- but it should be seen as an opportunity and not a crisis. T20 cricket has been for the good of the game, and we've got to learn with the changing times and groom people who could be good at both T20 and Test cricket.

Posted by   on (February 2, 2011, 6:39 GMT)

Fair article. Rohit,Raina etc are cases in point. Rohit's batting has subsided to a very great extent because of 20-20. Dhoni Beware, What after SRT,VVS and Rahul in test Cricket.

Posted by Aubmic on (February 2, 2011, 6:14 GMT)

Your argument rings a little hollow when you mention the ashes this year, given that the two batsmen who were massively out of form and were a major cause in us losing the ashes, Ponting & Clarke, never really changed their techniques due to 20/20 and in fact have both given up on the format.

Posted by gzawilliam on (February 2, 2011, 5:45 GMT)

I think the best example is Trott. His strike rate in one day cricket is very good. But the amount of boundaries he scores is very low.

All he focus's on his good footwork to play in his areas(leg side mostly).

70 off 72 balls in the current one dayer with only 2 fours. But never seemingly in trouble.

Posted by duck_season on (February 2, 2011, 5:30 GMT)

Any prizes for guessing who the former shield player is? I'm guessing it's Paul Rofe from South Australia. Just turned 30, and was an exceptional Sheffield Shield bowler during his time (extremely accurate), but hasn't played for about 3 years.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (February 2, 2011, 4:59 GMT)

Or it could just be that we are picking the wrong people. The 3 big names to leave, McGrath, Gilchrist and Warne are yet to be replaced adequately, but the sad part is the attempts to do so. McGrath's killer instinct is what is missed the most, not his bowling ability, and that needs to be built up over time. Sadly, the bowler most likely, Stuart Clark, was shown the door prior to the 2009 Ashes series, not due to a lack in his own form, but in order to encourage the new bowler Ben Hilfenhaus. We then decided to try to force Mitchell Johnson, who was never likely to fill that role, to try to change his entire nature so that he could be McGrath-like, and then, in the most recent Ashes, we refused to pick Doug Bollinger, the one player who could play that role, for all but 1 test, which had nothing to do with either form or injury. With Gilchrist, rather than going for our best keeper, we have gone for our best batsman who keeps. With Warne, we insist on playing spinners.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (February 2, 2011, 4:55 GMT)

Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Jaques Kallis, apart from others from the top bracket have all done exceptionally well in the IPL. They have during the same period also done very well in the Tests. Sachin and Kallis have done very well in the 50 over games as well when called upon to do so. So to suggest that players with hardened techniques could come undone because of 20/20 cricket does not really convince anyone. I believe that no matter what other new format of the game Ricky Ponting or Mike Hussey are forced to play, they will not lose their basics. Age may diminish their patience ,their anticipation skills and their reflexes. But they cannot lose it all just as Peter seems to suggest !!

Posted by   on (February 2, 2011, 4:46 GMT)

Great article, so true. Nothing beats a solid technique.

Posted by Scgboy on (February 2, 2011, 3:57 GMT)

Fair article, its indeed a problem which isn't solely confined to the shores of Oz. All praise should be heaped on that coach ,as is well known common sense isn't all that common.The basics do remain true, no matter what form of the game.

Posted by vswami on (February 2, 2011, 3:31 GMT)

A pile of rubbish. England plays more T20 cricket than anyone else ( double that of even IPl). Of course its an inconvenient fact to mention in the overall desire to bash anything to do with IPL. South Africans along with Australians have been the regulars of all past editions. It doesnt seem to have done anything to their techniques. Again inconvenient to consider. Its not IPL's problem that Australian youngsters are unable to think beyond $$$$. Blame that on upbringing and culture in society, not on IPL. Federers and Nadals of the world ( and golfers, racing drivers etc. ) earn mindboggling sums of money compared to IPL and yet the desire for excellence and standards of performance are not affected by $$$. If its evident that good techniques of Tendulkar and Kallis succeeds as well or more than half baked ones, it reflects on the standard of coaches that they are unable to get it into their heads.

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Peter RoebuckClose
Peter Roebuck He may not have played Test cricket for England, but Peter Roebuck represented Somerset with distinction, making over 1000 runs nine times in 12 seasons, and captaining the county during a tempestuous period in the 1980s. Roebuck acquired recognition all over the cricket world for his distinctive, perceptive, independent writing. Widely travelled, he divided his time between Australia and South Africa. He died in November 2011

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