T20 more complex and complicated than it seems

10 September 2019 - 14:17 By Telford Vice
Former President Jacob Zuma (R) presents the trophy to former Proteas player Johan Botha as one of the Gupta brothers (C) Atul Gupta looks on. File photo
Former President Jacob Zuma (R) presents the trophy to former Proteas player Johan Botha as one of the Gupta brothers (C) Atul Gupta looks on. File photo
Image: Duif du Toit

Dumbed down and Disneyfied.

That’s a common view of T20 among those who don’t consider cricket proper unless it’s played with a red ball in whites for days on end in matches that may or may not be won and lost.

Others extend their definition of what constitutes cricket to the 100 overs of nurdling and defensive bowling that one-day games amount to more often than not.

Radical elements among both those flavours of cricket fan might not bother tuning when South Africa’s men’s team play the first of three T20s against India in Dharamsala on Sunday.

Neither‚ probably‚ will Johan Botha‚ but not because he holds a dim view of the format.

Botha’s playing career as a canny white-ball specialist in South Africa and Australia ended when he retired in January.

But he is still in the game‚ and his expertise and experience have taken him to West Indies — where he is the Guyana Amazon Warriors head coach in the ongoing Caribbean Premier League.

And Sunday’s game in India will start not many hours after his team’s clash with the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in Basseterre has ended.

He’ll either be on a plane‚ asleep‚ or both when the first ball is bowled in Dharamsala.

For Botha T20 comes with its own complexities and complications.

“If a left-hander and a right-hander are batting‚ an off-spinner has to bowl to the right-hander‚ too — that’s just part of the game‚” Botha said from Georgetown‚ Guyana’s capital.

“So you can’t be too structured because your pre-game plan doesn’t always play out. You’ve got to think on your feet.

“These days it’s hard for guys to bowl two overs in the last five or two overs in the first six.

“It’s about trying to share that load and about trying to get the those guys to bowl the right overs at the right time.”

As an off-spinner who could hold a bat‚ Botha didn’t stick out as leadership material — particularly not in a cricket culture long on emphatic displays of superiority and short on subtlety.

But South Africa won 16 of the 21 white-ball games in which he captained them.

“I wasn’t just worried about my own game and how I was doing‚” Botha said.

“I had to worry about the 10 other guys on the field.

“Some guys struggle with that. They’re caught up in their own game and they find it difficult to relate to the other guys in the team.

“That’s a huge part of captaining; to look after the guys around you.”

On Sunday Quinton de Kock will become the 11th player to captain South Africa in this format‚ a list that includes David Miller‚ Farhaan Behardien and Justin Ontong.

De Kock isn’t the first player to lead South Africa from behind the stumps in white-ball games.

AB de Villiers did it 41 times‚ winning 17 of 30 ODIs and five of 11 T20s.

He had five ODIs as a wicketkeeper-captain behind him before he took charge of a T20 for the first time‚ and De Kock did the same job in two ODIs in Sri Lanka last August — his only internationals at the helm.

The home side won both‚ so the only way for his captaincy career is up.

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