Consistency, momentum achievable in T20s - Bailey
Consistency. Momentum. Such words are spoken about a lot, but how much do they really matter in the context of the shortest format? Is it possible for a team to display consistency for any period in T20s, where even a single over, or a few deliveries even, could turn a game around? Similarly, is it possible for a side to build momentum in T20s, especially in a tournament such as the World T20, where so much is riding on probably every game? George Bailey, the Australia captain, thinks both consistency and momentum are achievable, although doing so is difficult, and also needs some fortune.
"Whoever wins it (the World T20) will be consistent, I can guarantee you that, and that's probably the key," Bailey said ahead of Australia's opener against Pakistan. "I guess the shorter the format, the closer it brings two teams, the more it comes down to one incident - it can be one catch, might be one over, might be one wicket that's taken. There's a whole different range of ways that a game can be won and lost in T20s and it can happen quickly.
"I guess every team when they play their best is probably going to win their game. Every team that plays at their worst is going to lose. The challenge is to make sure that the gap is not too big. It is going to be very hard to play your best game every game but the team that's most consistent is going to win more often than not and that's what we are after, is just that consistency."
Bailey pointed to West Indies in the previous edition of the tournament in Sri Lanka in 2012 when queried about momentum. "I think the team that wins it will have it. Going back to the last World Cup (T20), West Indies had momentum. It really comes down to two stages. I think you have got to play some good, consistent cricket to get to the knockout stages, and then you hope that you have carried some momentum there, that you are playing some good cricket and then that little bit of luck."
The Australia captain did not think T20 was the slam-bang format it appeared to be for many watchers, and said that the skills it had brought into the game were starting to make an impact in other formats as well, especially on fielding standards and innovations. "There is a fair bit of skill involved. We are seeing some pretty amazing cricket. You are always going to have traditionalists who prefer other formats and to be honest, they tend to be quite old people, and that's fine, there's no issues with that.
"But I have no doubt that T20 will improve the standard of every format of the game because you are just seeing such different arrays of skills. You are seeing guys make fast decisions, you are seeing guys field unbelievably well. Everything is at a high intensity, a high pace. I think we are seeing an improvement in one-dayers. T20 has been around for a handful of years and we are seeing a change in one-day cricket already. It's a pretty exciting format of the game, I reckon.
"I didn't see many short third-mans before T20. I think that's becoming really common. You are starting to see deep midwicket becoming really common. I've seen a bloke field behind the bowler, I have seen two catchers at midwicket, spinners bowling with no one out behind square leg. You see right-handers (bowlers) coming round the wicket to right-handers, you see plenty of innovation. I think you see guys field where the balls are generally hit."
One aspect of the game that was believed would be of little use in T20s was spin, but slow bowlers have taken onto the format as well, and Bailey said especially in conditions such as those in Bangladesh, they had an important role to perform. "I think spin plays a huge role in T20, wherever it's played in the world. It tends to go one of two ways but certainly in these conditions, it tends to be match-winning.
"It's a challenge. We know we are going to face lots of spin, we know we are probably going to bowl a lot of spin. You approach is to play as well as you can."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo