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Prajakta Pawar in Johannesburg

Bowlers have a slight edge: Moody

Former Australian cricketer talks about factors that will come into play in CLT20 2012

The CLT20 2012 qualifiers threw up some points to ponder on for the teams competing in the main event beginning October 13. Ahead of the Karbonn Champions League Twenty20 2012 we caught up with former Australia player and commentator Tom Moody and discussed with him what panned out over the last three days during the qualifiers. While speaking to clt20.com, Moody, who has also coached teams in the past, analsyed the conditions here in South Africa and explained how the bowlers can use them to their advantage. He also talked about what helps teams win and perform consistently in the high intensity format of the game. While speaking about the Auckland Aces and Yorkshire who stormed into the tournament from the qualifiers he observed that fielding is going to be an important factor.

Excerpts from the interaction with Moody:

Yorkshire pulled off thrilling victories in both their matches while chasing. Holding their nerve under pressure seems to be their mantra.

Yorkshire have done well. In their first game they were really under pressure and they managed to show character and we saw that great sign of courage from David Miller to come back out in the middle after being struck off the nasty ball off Umar Gul. Little things like that can really shift the confidence and the momentum for a team. We also saw another player, who we haven’t seen lot of before, Gary Ballance in the second match. He showed us exactly what he is made of when he made 64 at Centurion. It was a stunning innings and it bodes well for them as a team that they are not relying on just one or two key players but they have got other players that can step up.

The Auckland Aces came before everyone else and prepared well and got results.

They have come here well prepared. They came two weeks early and combined a bit of pre-season work along with preparing for an important competition and looked well prepared. In their first game they looked organized and sleek in the field. They have been by far the best fielding team that we have seen so far in the CLT20 and I think that’s going to be a massive factor as we go into the business end of this competition. The teams that field well are going to be the teams that are going to be standing at the end. And Auckland Aces, though they don’t boast any huge stars they are a strong team. They have shown that they are up for it and they will give every team in the CLT20 a run for their money; there is no doubt about that.

Please sum up the qualifiers stage for us as we move forward

What we have seen, purely because the conditions here in South Africa are somewhat different from what we experience in the sub-continent, is a lot of movement off the seam and in the air; there has been some exaggerated bounce as well. I think that has caught a lot of teams out with regards to how to play Twenty20 cricket in those conditions. We have seen teams lose early wickets and find it very difficult to recover and post the kind of total that they need to defend. On reflection, a lot of teams will probably feel that their game plan wasn’t quite right. We saw in the match that Trinidad & Tobago played against Uva Next that they made adjustments and posted a total of 181 runs. So, it’s not that these wickets are impossible to play on. It is just a case of understanding how to adjust your game and adapt to those conditions.

What is your advice to bowlers?

We have seen Kyle Mills from the Auckland Aces take full advantage of these conditions and his length has been the key. He has bowled a fullish length and he has got that steep bounce from that fullish length, so he has encouraged or forced the batsman to get forward on to that front foot and that from a batting point of view is difficult to handle. He has read the conditions well and so he should because Kyle Mills has been around a long time. Those types of conditions are very much in his favour. These are the conditions that he revels in. He plays a lot in New Zealand where the ball does seam around so he has enjoyed his time. It will be interesting to see how the wickets pan out in the remaining games whether all the wickets are going to be lively and we are going to see some seam movement and swing.

So would you say that the bowlers have an advantage here?

The bowlers will be sitting back with a little bit of a grin on their face knowing that I am in the game, that there is a chance I can take early wickets. But they also know very well, that particularly in T20 the game can turn very quickly. If you take it for granted, before you know it, you have bowled an over that has gone for 20 runs.

What will be the role of spinners here?

I think they will play an important role. There is bounce in the wicket and spinners do like bounce. The usual advantages that the spinners have is the subtlety of the pace and mystery that they can provide with turning the ball both way. You add bounce to that and they are going to be a threat, there is no doubt about that. And one thing to consider though, particularly in Johannesburg, is that the ball does carry further because of the altitude. So, if the batsmen do try to take on the spinners, the ball is going to carry a little bit further than it would do on other venues.

You have played the game and have been a coach. What is your advice to the players, given the conditions on offer?

Firstly, it is important see what might happen and to see how the wickets are playing and how the teams have adjusted or not adjusted to conditions and try to learn from other people’s mistakes. So, they need to work at exactly how they are going to approach. Work towards their strengths and try to execute and adapt as quickly as possible to whatever conditions are presented. Who is to know what the conditions are going be like in the very next game that we play? You just need to be quicker on your feet to make that adjustment as a bowling group or a batting group to take advantage of your opponent.

What according to you is the key to consistency in Twenty20 cricket?

Match-winners are going to vital for a team, and also the teams that are settled will perform consistently. One of the reasons why the Chennai Super Kings have been successful is they have been a settled side for five years. They have rarely changed the balance of their side. They have remained loyal to their core group. So, it gives a player a feeling of being a part of that team. It then also makes it a lot easier for [CSK coach] Stephen Fleming and [captain] MS Dhoni to give specific roles to the players. The players know exactly what their roles are and they get better and better at executing in their positions. Role clarity is important. Experience is also important, and so are understanding when the key moments are in the games and how you can shift momentum back in your favour. The teams that are successful always seem to be able to control momentum or if they have lost it, are able to arrest it and bring it back in their favour.

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