12/05/2022
Australian batting great Matthew Hayden believes T20 cricket is not always about power and subcontinental players such as Suryakumar Yadav demonstrated that they can pose a threat with access shots and innovation. The power-hitters from teams such as Australia, England and West Indies have dominated the shortest format.

The power-hitters from teams such as Australia, England and West Indies have dominated the shortest format but Hayden gave the example of the rampaging Suryakumar to drive his point that it is more about finding a tricky balance.

“The power game in T20 cricket is still being explored because there is a mixture,” the former Australian opener and current Pakistan team mentor said ahead of Wednesday’s T20 World Cup semifinal against New Zealand.

“I think the subcontinental players when you look at the tournament so far, guys like Suryakumar Yadav who are playing beautifully through that middle to late stage, with a competency of all areas of the ground, with access shots, innovation, they become threats.”

Suryakumar has gone past 1000 runs in T20 Internationals in 2022. On Sunday, the 32-year-old mesmerized an 82,000-strong MCG crowd with his strokes, some of them outrageous. His unbeaten 61-run knock off just 25 balls set up India’s big win over Zimbabwe.

“So it’s not always about the power. And as I said, I think as cricketers, we’re all trying to come to grips with when is the power, when does that foot go down on the floor, when does it decelerate and look to preserve.

“And a lot of the matches have been very close matches. And the tricky balance between preservation of wickets versus exploration of innovation have been really why I think a lot of the sides that are here now in this tournament are still here.

“Australia is a great case of that. Power to burn but hasn’t been able to handle the new ball. And it’s let itself be vulnerable through the middle of the order.”

Defending champions Australia failed to reach the knockout stage after finishing third in their super 12 Group 1 with seven points as England sealed the semifinals owing to a better net run-rate.

Hayden, who was part of the 2003 ODI World Cup-winning team, said Australia didn’t get things right in their preparation for the T20 showpiece and will have to take some bold decisions ahead of next year’s 50-over World Cup.

“The Australian team has some thinking to do. There has to be some freshness… there has to be planning to head towards World Cups. They’re the premium events. They’re the events that everyone across the world plans for, and Australia, unfortunately, just didn’t get it right.

“We all know the Australian cricket team, the culture of Australian cricket has been challenged over the last four or five years. There has to be some improvements in the departments, especially I think their fast bowling attack.”

Hayden pointed out some strategic decisions that backfired and also pulled up the batters. “I think strategically, as well, not playing Mitchell Starc, our premium bowler ahead of that game was really significant as well. So little things, but just performances.

“Davey Warner, his performance in the World Cup wasn’t as special as it was in the last World Cup. He’s a premium player. Our expectations, like Babar, like all the great players, are so high that when they don’t quite get it right, they get exposed.

“And then they have to raise their game and challenge themselves and become better players and then play better tournament cricket. And tournament cricket is very hard. And it’s very different for the common programme as well because you don’t get second bites at the cherry typically.”