What makes a successful T20 team: Part 1

A brief history of T20 Cricket

In order to realise what makes a successful T20 team, we have to delve deeper into its history. Twenty20 Cricket has been around for almost two decades. Cricket South Africa claim to have invented the idea in the late 1990s. But it came to fruition in 2003, via the England and Wales Cricket Board. The idea was to engage a new audience, in the hope of greater ticket sales and television viewership.

Adam Hollioake of Surrey runs out Neil Smith of Warwickshire to close Warwickshire’s innings on 115 all out during the Twenty20 Cup Final between Surrey and Warwickshire at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, 19th July 2003. Surrey won the match by 9 wickets. (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Since 2003, Twenty20 has been a massive global success, with sellout crowds worldwide. However, the majority of franchises competing have struggled to understand the dynamics of the format. This has often resulted in almost “oligopolistic competition” – with the same teams winning repeatedly. Therefore, we must ask ourselves – what makes a successful T20 team?

Consistency conquers all

Mumbai Indians. Chennai Super Kings. Perth Scorchers. Three of the most successful T20 teams in history all have one factor in common – consistency. A low turnover of players and a strong core have both contributed to 10 domestic titles between the three teams. Adding the Champions League T20 competition increases the number of trophies to 14. In Twenty20 cricket, players are more likely to perform poorly than in any other format. The reason behind this is that it is difficult to influence the game in such a short number of overs. Therefore, most players will only have a couple of match-winning performances per season. As a result, teams that have backed players through difficult periods have gained the most success.

The reason behind such teachings is easy to grasp. In sport, the form of any player is temporary but their class is permanent. The law of averages states that a player who has three bad games has a high chance of performing in their fourth game. The mistake made by most teams is that they drop a player at this point and replace them with an individual who has not played a game yet. The new player has not yet adapted to conditions or the bowlers as much as the player who has been dropped. As a result, the probability of success falls dramatically.

HYDERABAD, INDIA – MAY 12: Faf Du Plessis of the Chennai Super Kings bats during the Indian Premier League Final match between the the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Hyderabad, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Faf Du Plessis was a prime example in the 2018 Indian Premier League season. His performances were average until qualifier 1. But he had the backing of his team and captain, despite averaging just 21.25 in the four games he had played until then. He produced a scintillating performance of 67* when the rest of the team crumbled around him. Chennai Super Kings made the final narrowly and went on to win the tournament.

Successful captain equals successful T20 team

T20 cricket is a dynamic game. T20 cricket is a difficult game. The entire game can change in an over. Therefore, it is pivotal that the team has a strong leader and more importantly an intelligent captain. The best example of a smart captain is MS Dhoni. More often than not, he has used his resources brilliantly. Shane Watson was declared fit enough to bowl during the 2018 IPL, but at a risk of breaking down at any point. Despite a tempting bowling option to vary the attack further, Dhoni had decided against bowling Watson. Dhoni had realised that Watson’s stronger suit was batting by some distance. If Watson had got injured, he could not replace such an explosive opener. His decision was proved to be correct, with Shane Watson blazing an unbeaten 117 in the final.

Dinesh Karthik has been a very shrewd captain for KKR. But drawing comparisons, we realise that he over bowled Andre Russell in IPL 2019 – when he was clearly struggling with a knee injury. Consequently, Russell missed crucial games and KKR just missed qualification. Small decisions play massive roles in making a successful T20 team.

TAUNTON, ENGLAND – JUNE 17: Andre Russell of West Indies bowls during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between West Indies and Bangladesh at The County Ground on June 17, 2019 in Taunton, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Other examples of excellent T20 captains include Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir. Both make it to this list due to the clarity of their thinking. They have chosen excellent team compositions in the past. They have chosen the right players based on the role that they want to be fulfilled, rather than choosing players and then deciding what role they should play. Other less successful captains have been guilty of picking names in their squad rather than a team. Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir have been smart not to make this mistake.

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