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Mickey Arthur - Walks the talk

South African coach Mickey Arthur warns major teams against minnows

Sunday, June 07, 2021
'Beware of banana skins'

In another five or six years everyone will know so much more about strategies and tactics for T20 cricket but for the moment we are all feeling our way and trying to discover the best way to prepare and approach for a tournament like World Twenty20 championship.

Interestingly, all the other teams used 12 or 13 players in their official warm-up matches, whereas we believed it was important to begin the competition with a settled starting XI rather than creating an impression that places were still up for grabs.

My belief is that the game is far too short to try and make decisions on who will fill certain places. How can you put two bowlers up against each other and then decide on who is in better form on the basis of two overs each? It’s not fair to them or the team.

Having comfortably and impressively beaten Pakistan and Sri Lanka with XI players in our first two warm-ups, we organised a third game against Ireland and included all of our reserves. I may be proved wrong in the long run, but my theory is that a player will benefit far more by playing a proper role in an XI rather than trying to fit into a mish-mash composition 13.

We were given quite a jolt by what happened in the opening game between England and Holland! Right from the start of the warm-up week we have been treating our first game against Scotland on Sunday as seriously as if it was against India or Australia, but as much as you talk about the outside possibility of an upset, I’m not sure that many of our players took it seriously.

Fortunately, Holland have done us a favour by proving that upsets are far, far more possible even likely in this form of the game than in any other. I would think that they have done India a big favour, too, because the reigning T20 champions face two potential banana skins in their group with Bangladesh and Ireland. Nobody should doubt the possibility of India losing to either of them.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that India will slip up, but it helps to be reminded of the possibility!

Despite the increased chances of an upset, T20 cricket is not a lottery. The best teams should still win far more games than they lose, certainly against the small teams.

I always talk about the one per cent small factors which make big differences. Hitting the stumps from the infield, bowling dot balls at crucial times and manufacturing boundaries when they are really needed. They are skills which have become particularly relevant to T20 cricket and we have been working extremely hard at improving them.