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Took me a while to adapt to T20: Katich

Scorchers batsman says mental adjustment is key for playing shortest format

Most of the times a team decides the role of a player based on his skills and strengths. But there are some sportsmen who’re in the team because they have the ability and the heart to play the game according to their team’s need. Simon Katich belongs to the second category.

The Australian opening batsman might not bat with a technique that evokes poetry but he surely will do the job for his team when needed. He will dig in or score prolifically, he will block or open up, depending on the match situation and the role he is asked to play at that moment.

Touted as a Test batsman for most part of his career, Katich has worked his way to becoming a successful T20 cricketer with over 1,500 runs from 75 games at a decent strike-rate of 125.89. Currently in South Africa to play in the CLT20 for the Perth Scorchers, the man who led New South Wales to the inaugural title, spoke to clt20.com.

Katich talked about how he adapted his game to suit the shortest format of cricket. He also emphasised the importance of older players in a T20 team and analysed the Scorchers’ performance in the CLT20 so far

Excerpts from his interview:

For a batsman like you, how was it to adapt to T20

It took a while; I’ve been playing T20 since 2003 when I first played for Hampshire. The game has evolved and us, older players have had to adapt quickly because this is a young man’s game. We’ve got a lot of old guys in our team, like Gibbs, Collingwood and Hogg, who’re adapting to it and doing reasonably well.

What was the major change that you had to make to adapt to the shortest format?

The big thing is the change in mindset because in T20 you’ve really got to try and put pressure on the bowler right from the word go. Otherwise you get bogged down and find yourself and the team under pressure. So, you have to take risks; sometimes they’re calculated and sometimes they’re not. It’s also important that you’re thinking clearly because it all happening quickly. I think a lot of it also depends on where you’re batting in the order. In the middle overs, you have to be busy. You don’t always have to find the fence but you’ve got to keep ticking the scoreboard over.

Is experience underrated in T20?

You need that balance. Obviously, the enthusiasm of youth is important in this format and the guys making their way up the ranks have a big role to play. But you need some older guys, not only from the performance point of view but also tactically. That comes in handy when game’s in a crucial position.

How important are tactics in T20 cricket and how much of a role do instincts play?

There’s huge amount of tactics involved in T20. It might not look that way to the spectators. But there’s no doubt the teams that have a certain structure to follow have done well consistently. How they approach the first six overs, the middle overs and how they attack in the death. The same goes with the ball.

The Scorchers have lost one game and the second one was a washout. What are your views on the team’s performance?

We had a great practice match against the Mumbai Indians and then the next day we played pretty badly. Having said that, I think it was more a case of the Titans starting off really well and putting us under pressure. We never really got back in the game. Credit to them playing in their home conditions. Then I thought we were going pretty well against the Kolkata Knight Riders the other night. They have had their battles in this tournament and it’s hard to say where the game was headed before rain interrupted. They would’ve felt like they had some decent bowlers to bowl at the death of the innings.

Which are the strongest teams in the tournament?

The stand-out teams in the tournament have been the South African teams and the Sydney Sixers, who are all got well-balanced sides. If we perform the way we’d like to in the remaining two games, we can put ourselves in the mix of things as well. There’s no doubt the extra pace and bounce in the wickets has certainly helped not only the bowlers but also their batsmen who are used to the ball coming on to the bat. That’s something the Indian players who haven’t played international cricket find hard to adjust to.

Will a good pace attack will be the key to win the title this time?

The spinners have a big role to play as well. If you do take wickets early on, the spinners can then come into the game in the middle overs. The batsmen too have a big role to play in playing the first six overs without losing too many wickets, which is not always the easiest thing to do in this format. So, the team with the best all-round balance will win.

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