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Are specialist captains an asset in Twenty20s?

LongHopCassidy

International Captain
Obviously there's the dilemma of the not being worth their place in the side on merit alone (see Brearley et al.). In the case of Bailey, would you argue that a) he's a better tactician than Clarke and b) that his tactical acumen alters the course of more Twenty20s than not? Are Twenty20s more susceptible to tactical changes than ODIs and Tests?
 

BoyBrumby

Englishman
Haven't seen enough of Bailey the captain to say definitively that he's a better skip than Clarke, but the latter's test captaincy has impressed me a lot more than I ever thought it would because he'd seemed pretty average tactically in the shorter forms.

I think this suggests (and I'm inclined to concur) that test captaincy requires a subtly different skillset from the shorter forms and, indeed, those abbreviated formats differ from each other too. Clarke strikes one as a test captain who trusts his gut and isn't afraid to have a punt if Plans A & B don't work, which is pretty ironic as his T20 captaincy seemed pretty formulaic.
 

Spark

Global Moderator
Think we can answer the first quite firmly in the negative, tbh, and the second also is leaning decidedly towards the negative. I don't know what sort of plan he was using for the last 5 of the WI innings but it should be burnt and the ashes scattered several thousand miles out to sea.
 

pup11

International Coach
Both Bailey and Clarke are good captains but both have very different methods to captaincy, whereas Clarke is a better tactician who is likely to outdo his opposite number someone like Bailey is a more hands on captain who believes in empowering each and every player and giving them every opportunity to produce their best results.

The other thing is that a team definitely needs a good leader in a format like T20 simply because its unpredictable and any captain who depends just on plans he makes in the dressing room is going to struggle big time in this format.
 

Dan

Global Moderator
I deny that Bailey is a specialist captain. Name one middle order batsman more qualified than him (and by that I don't mean top-4-pushed-down-the-order ala Dave Hussey, I mean a legitimate 5 or 6 batsman).

His T20i record has him averaging 25+ at a SR >130, which is similar to his domestic record. He is a pretty good short-form batsman, we just perceive him as too slow because we want an order involving 6 reincarnations of Shane Watson.
 

Prince EWS

Global Moderator
Name one middle order batsman more qualified than him (and by that I don't mean top-4-pushed-down-the-order ala Dave Hussey, I mean a legitimate 5 or 6 batsman).
That's a pretty ridiculous qualification IMO because T20 more than other format rewards getting your best players up the order. Your #5/6 batsmen internationally will more often than not bat in the top four domestically because international quality specialist batsmen would be wasted lower than that at domestic level.

FTR I'm not actually saying Bailey is a specialist captain or doesn't deserve his place as a batsman; I just think that particular point was poor. It's almost like saying Anderson is a really good Test batsman because there are few more qualified number elevens; he bats eleven for a reason and it's not because England get the most of his talents when he bats there.

Bailey aside and onto the actual point of the thread, one thing that hasn't been brought up is opportunity cost. The nature of T20 makes your tenth and eleventh worst players far less consequential than ODIs and especially Tests (which are still primarily IMO about minimising weaknesses) so you lose less by having a specialist captain than you do in the other formats.

As the format rewards more raw, natural skills in short bursts rather than refinement and long-term consistency, it's easier for players to be genuinely multi-skilled. Furthermore, unlike in ODIs, the game is so short that the period it takes for a batsman to get set actually means that upping aggression to make full use of one's resources if few wickets have fallen isn't even always the best plan. As a result of all this, bowlers who are talented strikers of the ball but devote comparatively little time to their batting are now good enough to make an impact at seven where their role will usually just be to strike at a decent rate off half a dozen deliveries, so these players are now effectively genuine allrounders.

While it's important that everyone be at least vaguely capable with the bat all the way down, the required length of a team's proper refined specialist batting lineup has reduced, so if you have someone batting six or seven who is a good fielder, a decent domestic batsman and the best captain in the country you'll probably get more out of that than just picking the next best batsman available. Even if tactical acumen is worth less in T20 than it is in Tests for example, having an entire team of good players is worth even less again as you can cover the needs of a T20 team with nine or ten fairly comfortably most of the time.
 
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BoyBrumby

Englishman
^^^
Good points, tbf, but you might want to split the big paragraph up or it's likely to be missed as that much text is definitely bordering on tl;dr territory.

Without wishing to be too much of a bum-lick, if it wasn't someone whose opinions I find interesting I probably wouldn't have been arsed.

I think the fact that Australia, with a very top-heavy batting line up, got as far as they did shows there's merit in the argument. However, seeing what happened when Watson, Warner and Huss sr all jibbed it shows that depth is still important. As, indeed, Scaly suggests when Gul from #9 got Pakistan over the line versus the Yarps.
 

Dan

Global Moderator
That's a pretty ridiculous qualification IMO because T20 more than other format rewards getting your best players up the order. Your #5/6 batsmen internationally will more often than not bat in the top four domestically because international quality specialist batsmen would be wasted lower than that at domestic level.

FTR I'm not actually saying Bailey is a specialist captain or doesn't deserve his place as a batsman; I just think that particular point was poor. It's almost like saying Anderson is a really good Test batsman because there are few more qualified number elevens; he bats eleven for a reason and it's not because England get the most of his talents when he bats there.
I agree that your best T20 bats will generally come from the Top 4, but there is a completely different role to play in the middle order than there is in the first 4. You don't want your entire batting lineup to be domestic openers; it makes no sense. When Bailey was first selected, I saw multitudes of comments about guys like Rob Quiney missing out. Somehow I don't think picking an aggressive opener to bat 5 or 6 is the best idea.

If I was selecting, I would be looking at a number 5 batsman who could steady the ship if early wickets are lost (while still scoring at a decent rate), rotate the strike and minimise dot balls. That does not correlate to a top 4 domestic batsman, much of the time, who have high boundary percentages but play out more dots (like a Kieswetter, Sehwag, Watson et al). They also have to be adaptable to hit out later on, and take advantage of good starts. In my mind, if Bailey wasn't playing it would probably be the ideal spot for Michael Hussey. He can recover from a poor start or take advantage in the final few overs.

Going in with a batting order of Watson-Warner-Finch-White-Quiney-Wade-Maxwell-Christian (or something similar) would be utterly pointless; you a) run into the law of diminishing returns and b) if you get on top of a line-up like that you end up 6/40 in no time flat because they can't do anything but try and hit their way out of trouble. Each team has a batsman based on their busy-ness and strike rotation playing in some form - Jayawardene, Kohli, Bailey - who can also clear the boundary. You need a balance to the big hitters.

Playing the 6 best openers because they can hit big is not a good strategy, having a balance in the middle order is. Of those balanced players, we have two damn good ones in Mussey and Bailey. George is worth his place at number 5 or 6 as a batsman alone; he performs in that position and adds plenty with his captaincy.

Let's go back to that ODI XI thread we had a while ago, and assume we're taking on the Martians. Very few people didn't select at least one specialist finisher. Perhaps they weren't the best batsmen in history per se, but they perform in that role better than say, shoehorning Adam Gilchrist into that position when he opened Internationally. Batting at 5 in T20s is similar - it requires a different set of skills to opening, so you don't select the third best opener in that position.
 

Prince EWS

Global Moderator
^^^
Good points, tbf, but you might want to split the big paragraph up or it's likely to be missed as that much text is definitely bordering on tl;dr territory.

Without wishing to be too much of a bum-lick, if it wasn't someone whose opinions I find interesting I probably wouldn't have been arsed.
Haha yeah I'm trying to restructure it as we speak; I didn't mean for the last paragraph to be as long as it was but I kept adding more in as I didn't think I'd explained my position quite as I'd liked to.

I think the fact that Australia, with a very top-heavy batting line up, got as far as they did shows there's merit in the argument. However, seeing what happened when Watson, Warner and Huss sr shows that depth is still important. As, indeed, Scaly suggests when Gul from #9 got Pakistan over the line versus the Yarps.
I think Gul's a good example of what I was trying to say actually. Players like him - specialist bowlers with obvious but unrefined batting talent - are far more likely to make a real impact with the bat in T20 cricket than they are in the longer formats. I think it's important or at least very useful to have players who can bat all the way down to 9 or 10 for that reason, but it's also for that reason that I don't think actually having proper frontline batsmen at 6 and 7 is anywhere near as important as it is in Tests or ODIs. Lower middle order batsmen won't be required to do much when they come in, and even if they do happen to fail then there's not much lost by having someone like Swann, Southee, Gul or Mills come in next anyway.

The difference between having someone like Gul come in at 9 and having someone like Matthew Hoggard come in instead is huge as has been proven, but the difference between having a proper batsman come in at 7 and having Gul come in then instead with another 3 or 4 players who can bat to a similar standard waiting beyond that if Gul fails is actually really tiny IMO, especially when #7 batsmen only face 6 balls on average or something ridiculous. The difference between Gul and Shoaib Malik is not their scoring rate but how long they're able to maintain it before being dismissed, and when you've only got a handful of deliveries to face, it really closes in the effectiveness difference of players in that role. I think the #7 slot in T20 cricket is more like the #8 slot in ODI cricket than anything else, and I'd be tempted to say something similar about the #6 slot as well.

I think there's a lot more scope for teams to have five frontline bowlers (as long as some of them can bat a bit as they say), a specialist gloveman or indeed a specialist captain in T20 because those slots traditionally given to batsmen (or predominantly batting players at least) aren't really being utilised.
 
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Prince EWS

Global Moderator
I agree that your best T20 bats will generally come from the Top 4, but there is a completely different role to play in the middle order than there is in the first 4. You don't want your entire batting lineup to be domestic openers; it makes no sense. When Bailey was first selected, I saw multitudes of comments about guys like Rob Quiney missing out. Somehow I don't think picking an aggressive opener to bat 5 or 6 is the best idea.

If I was selecting, I would be looking at a number 5 batsman who could steady the ship if early wickets are lost (while still scoring at a decent rate), rotate the strike and minimise dot balls. That does not correlate to a top 4 domestic batsman, much of the time, who have high boundary percentages but play out more dots (like a Kieswetter, Sehwag, Watson et al). They also have to be adaptable to hit out later on, and take advantage of good starts. In my mind, if Bailey wasn't playing it would probably be the ideal spot for Michael Hussey. He can recover from a poor start or take advantage in the final few overs.

Going in with a batting order of Watson-Warner-Finch-White-Quiney-Wade-Maxwell-Christian (or something similar) would be utterly pointless; you a) run into the law of diminishing returns and b) if you get on top of a line-up like that you end up 6/40 in no time flat because they can't do anything but try and hit their way out of trouble. Each team has a batsman based on their busy-ness and strike rotation playing in some form - Jayawardene, Kohli, Bailey - who can also clear the boundary. You need a balance to the big hitters.

Playing the 6 best openers because they can hit big is not a good strategy, having a balance in the middle order is. Of those balanced players, we have two damn good ones in Mussey and Bailey. George is worth his place at number 5 or 6 as a batsman alone; he performs in that position and adds plenty with his captaincy.

Let's go back to that ODI XI thread we had a while ago, and assume we're taking on the Martians. Very few people didn't select at least one specialist finisher. Perhaps they weren't the best batsmen in history per se, but they perform in that role better than say, shoehorning Adam Gilchrist into that position when he opened Internationally. Batting at 5 in T20s is similar - it requires a different set of skills to opening, so you don't select the third best opener in that position.
Most of those players you mentioned as examples open or bat three in all formats though, so it's not just a case of them batting higher in T20 cricket as their domestic sides try to make better use of them. Arguing that Dave Hussey doesn't qualify as a middle order batsman because he bats in the top four in domestic T20 is absolutely absurd IMO; he bats there because he'd be wasted lower - he's a middle order batsman in every sense of the word. Quiney is a totally different thing.
 

Dan

Global Moderator
Most of those players you mentioned as examples open or bat three in all formats though, so it's not just a case of them batting higher in T20 cricket as their domestic sides try to make better use of them. Arguing that Dave Hussey doesn't qualify as a middle order batsman because he bats in the top four in domestic T20 is absolutely absurd IMO; he bats there because he'd be wasted lower - he's a middle order batsman in every sense of the word. Quiney is a totally different thing.
Yeah, Hussey was a pretty poor example.

And ****, I selected a lot of hypothetical Victorians there. Something's gone seriously wrong with me..
 

Prince EWS

Global Moderator
Yeah, Hussey was a pretty poor example.

And ****, I selected a lot of hypothetical Victorians there. Something's gone seriously wrong with me..
If you just disqualified openers instead of disqualifying "top four batsmen" and mentioning Dave Hussey as a specific example I wouldn't have had any issue with your post, really. :p
 

NUFAN

Y no Afghanistan flag
****ing Victorians.

Who do you think the best vic players are out of HODGE, MCKAY, HASTINGS, PATTINSON, white, wade, SIDDLE, dussey, maxwell, FINCH..

The best players all things considered are the CAPS LOCK CREW, and they are out of the xi but yet the lower case chaps are in the Aussie team.

Honestly, I was amazed that our think tank figured against WI that Doherty would be a better option ahead of Clint McKay...
 

Prince EWS

Global Moderator
Honestly, I was amazed that our think tank figured against WI that Doherty would be a better option ahead of Clint McKay...
McKay is a dire T20 bowler. I didn't like the Doherty selection either but why McKay was the third seamer in the squad in the first place is beyond me.
 

BoyBrumby

Englishman
Semi-related tangent: what's Patto jr like as T20 bowler? His BB is pretty decent.

Actually Pattinson sr must soon re-qualify for Oz too if he hasn't already. Think it was 2008 when he played his only test.

Could theoretically see both playing for 'Strayla.
 

NUFAN

Y no Afghanistan flag
McKay is a dire T20 bowler. I didn't like the Doherty selection either but why McKay was the third seamer in the squad in the first place is beyond me.
Incorrect. Clint McKay is one of histories best T20 bowlers. Even though the conditions were spin friendly, CM is not the type of bowler to leak huge runs per over. McKay, Hilfenhaus, McDermott, Bollinger would have all been better options against WI compared to the mediocre Doherty spell.
 

Prince EWS

Global Moderator
Incorrect. Clint McKay is one of histories best T20 bowlers. Even though the conditions were spin friendly, CM is not the type of bowler to leak huge runs per over.
Australian cricketers who go for less runs per over than McKay in T20 cricket:

Mitchell Starc
Shane Watson
Pat Cummins
Ryan Harris
Ben Hilfenhaus
Brad Hogg
Mitchell Johnson
Doug Bollinger
Nathan Hauritz
Steve O'Keefe
John Wayne Hastings
Xavier Doherty
James Pattinson
Peter Siddle
Dan Christian
Glenn Maxwell
Dirk Nannes
Dave Hussey
Steve Smith
Ben Laughlin
Mitch Marsh
James Faulkner
Mike Hussey
Chris Swan
Jayde Herrick
Luke Doran
Aaron O'Brien
Chris Lynn
Michael Beer
Nathan Lyon
Aaron Heal
Josh Hazelwood
Kane Richardson
Alister McDermott
Michael Hogan
Matt Johnston
Nathan Rimmington
Dom Thornely
Jason Krejza


And probably a stack more; I got bored eventually. I'm not saying they're all better T20 bowlers than him, but the sheer volume of the list (which isn't even finished in all likelihood) tends to suggest that McKay keeping it tight in T20 cricket is a myth. He bowls length pies; if there's one good thing T20 cricket has brought to the world, it's an environment in which that sort of bowling gets punished.
 
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