Twenty20 cricket is a tough game to play. It's all about momentum. Who is prepared to chase it, catch it and own it. Each team needs a diverse set of players with different skill sets to do a job for their franchise. Generally, the team with the best bowlers wins most matches.
Let's look at the Perth Scorchers, for example, who have made the final of the Big Bash League in the past four seasons. Over the past couple of years, the Perth Scorchers have had Jason Behrendorff bowling well in the powerplay overs, Brad Hogg owning the middle overs and Andrew Tye bowling courageously at the death. This is the main reason why the Scorchers have done so well.
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Sydney Thunder have the Big Bash League wobbles after slumping to their third successive loss, a 30-run defeat to Perth Scorchers.
So what are the other key ingredients to T20 success?
1. QUALITY DEATH FAST BOWLER
He is in my opinion, the most important player in the team. He can win and lose the momentum, or a match. He needs to bowl well at the start but needs to bowl the 18th and 20th overs. The 18th over is probably the most important over in the death overs. Win the 18th over and win the game.
There are two defence spots a death bowler must own – yorkers at leg stump or a yorker about two feet wide of off stump. These defensive lengths and lines are non-negotiable. How good have the Stars been this past week when John Hastings and Scott Boland took 5-26? Game over. Similarly,Tye's death bowling for the Scorchers this BBL5 has been outstanding, with 55 balls and figures of 5-62.
The best death bowler in the world has no doubt been Lasith Malinga. His ability to bowl fast yorkers shows in the fact that 40 per cent of his wickets are bowled, which is brilliant.
2. TOP-ORDER BATSMEN
The likes of Michael Hussey, Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh and Michael Klinger have been sensational this BBL05, batting at the top of the order with strike rates of 130 runs per 100 balls faced. These batsmen need to cope with the new ball and then be able to have the power in the death overs. If you win the powerplay by six runs or more, you win 73 per cent of the time.
The powerplay is so important because the stats tell us that if a team scores the most runs in the powerplay overs, they win two games from three.
3. QUALITY SPIN BOWLER
A player like Brad Hogg is a must. Hogg has the great ability to spin the ball both ways and is not frightened to bowl to left-handers. Hogg's record is amazing, with a wonderful economy rate of of 6.7, and that says that he is the best T20 spin bowler in the country. Cameron Boyce has been outstanding this BBL05 with 10 wickets.
4. THE HITTER
Every team needs an Andre Russell or a Kieron Pollard, someone who can score 150 runs per 100 balls. These guys are powerfully built and imposing. If they can score 60-plus runs in the last five overs, their team wins 75 per cent of the time.
5. TACTICS AND STRATEGIES
The mindset of bowlers must be about taking wickets early and not looking to be defensive. Every bowler's psyche must be, "How can I get him out?" While the batsmen should be thinking, "Where can I hit a four and where can I get a one."
Fielding is just so important in T20 cricket. It is so important for the fieldsmen to want the ball in the field. When things get tight in the death overs, it is so important to get your best fieldsmen in what we call the "hot zones". The teams who will finish in the top two places of the BBL no doubt will have performed the best in the field.
6. HAVE INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE
Now that the Australian one-day squad has been named, how will each franchise cope without some of their stars? The Renegades have lost Finch and Matthew Wade but have done well to pick up Peter Nevill, who will open and take the gloves. I worry for the Renegades as they lack options with the ball and just can't get wickets consistently enough to do any damage.
The Stars and Scorchers are the biggest losers. They have lost three major players each and need two wins from their next three games to make the finals. I feel the Adelaide Strikers will make the finals, but they will definitely miss Kane Richardson, who is one of the best death bowlers in the league.
7. WIN THE NUMBERS BATTLE
Coaches around the world monitor these particular stats:
*Average winning score batting first: Gabba 178, SCG 175, Etihad 172, Bellerive 171, MCG 170, WACA 169, Adelaide 167.
*It doesn't matter who bats first or second.
*If you bowl first and take three wickets in the powerplay, you win 74 per cent of the time.
*If you lose four wickets by the end of the 10th over, you lose 80 per cent of the time.
*If you bat first and lose two wickets or less by the 15th over, you win 67 per cent of the time.
SO, WHO'S IN THE BOX SEAT?
To make the finals, a team is likely to need five wins. So that means Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers will not make the finals.
Overall, the Strikers are the team to beat, but each franchise's main goal is to qualify for the finals first. Then, as we all know, finals are a different animal.