Abu Dhabi: Whiteball cricket has been a deathbed for bowlers, tilting the contests heavily in favour of the batters. The shorter the format is, the more pressure bowlers come under on flat pitches giving batters the licence to kill. However, the bowlers have managed to stay in the race by bringing in new variations under their armoury against power-hitters of modern era. Former Sri Lankan skipper Aneglo Mathews feels that sporting pitches will make the contests more interesting.
“A 50-50 wicket will make the game more interesting. A good tussle between bat and ball. These days bowlers have developed massive skills to make it better and better. If you prepare those type of wickets, that will bring more balance to matches,” Mathews said on the eve of seventh Abu Dhabi T10, to begin at Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Tuesday.
Talking about the impact of T10 and T20 in longer formats, Mathews said: “The game has got faster and faster. I won’t be surprised that you get a T5 in future. The shorter formats have had massive impact on 50-over game as we could see 400-plus scores these days. Some of the shots that are being played in 50-over formats are amazing, so it has impacted in a good way, however bowlers are at receiving end on flat pitches.”
Mathews knows how difficult it is to be a bowler in the shorter formats as a pace-bowling all-rounder. The former Sri Lankan captain returned to international cricket after being faced with several injuries. But his return to international cricket has been not all too pleasant.
Mathews became the first player in the 146-year history of cricket to be dismissed timed out during the 50-over World Cup match against Bangladesh in New Delhi. Mathews had come in to bat after the fall of Sadeera Samarawickrama in the 25th over but was unable to secure his helmet strap tightly enough, an action which delayed the resumption of play. As a result, the former captain had taken more than two minutes to take strike and Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan appealed, which the umpires upheld.
Talking about the incident, Mathews called for a commonsense approach in the future. “It was down to equipment malfunction. The umpires could have had a commonsense approach instead of coming to conclusions straight away and consulted with the third umpire. It’s an one-off incident and I respect the umpires decision,” added the Northern Warriors skipper, who is eyeing a record third crown with Deccan Gladiators’ captain Nicholas Pooran.
In anticipation of another explosive season of cricket’s fastest format, Abu Dhabi T10 2023 opener will see defending champions Deccan Gladiators face last year’s runners-up New York Strikers, led by Kieron Pollard. The eight-team tournament runs from November 28 to December 9.
'Aim to retain trophy'
England all-rounder Moeen Ali will lead Morrisville Samp Army, Charith Asalanka will captain Chennai Braves, West Indian Rovman Powell will guide Delhi Bulls from the front, Team Abu Dhabi have Dwaine Pretorius as their skipper and Benny Howell has replaced Bangladesh star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan as the Bangla Tigers captain.
Pooran, who was also the highest run-scorer of the last season with 345 runs in 10 matches at an average of 49.29 and a strike rate of 234.69, said that he wished to win the record third title for Gladiators this season. “It was a good season for me last time around, and I was happy to contribute to the team’s success, not only as captain but also as a batsman. Our target this year is to retain the trophy and we will continue to play the kind of cricket we like to play. It would be an honour for me to lead Gladiators to a record third title this time around. I am ready to take up any role the team wants me to,” the West Indian left-hander said.
Presently, Gladiators and Northern Warriors are the only two teams to have won two titles. The Warriors have made a strong choice in Mathews as skipper, who has been one of the most successful captains for Sri Lanka in international cricket.
Meanwhile, Strikers and Morrisville will look to use Pollard and Moeen’s familiarity with the format once again to boost their chances of getting their hands on the trophy. Pollard said he wants to finish the job this season.
“We came so close to winning the title last season, but the final was a lesson for us. We now know the temperament that is needed in big matches, and we will look to use that knowledge to our advantage. We have a solid squad, and we are ready to go all the way this time,” he said.
Moeen Ali said that such a quick format is a test of players’ skills. “While one may feel that T10 is all about big shots, and heavy hitting, it is also about recognising and adapting to situations quickly and efficiently when you are out there. In such a short time, anything can happen. We must be ready for Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C and if we do that, we will be in a good position to win the whole thing.”
Big shoes to fill
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka top-order batter Asalanka will be leading the side in place for Sikandar Raza, and he admitted he has big shoes to fill. “I am excited to take over the reins as captain for the Braves and will look forward to leading the team. We must take one game at a time, but our goal is to make the playoffs and set ourselves up for a chance to play in the all-important final.”
Delhi’s choice of giving captaincy to Powell is another interesting move as the West Indies batting all-rounder led Northern Warriors last season and scored 196 runs in 7 matches at a whopping strike rate of 245. “I was in good form in the previous edition and also gained experience in leading a team in this format. Now, with a new squad and a new franchise, I am even more motivated to perform. We want to see Delhi Bulls get their hands on the trophy once again — and we must stick to our plans in order to do so,” Powell said.
Bowlers in focus
Team Abu Dhabi decided to put their stocks on bowlers during the draft, and backing their bowling unit, named South Africa speedster Pretorius as the captain. In 10 games last season, Pretorius was the leading wicket-taker with 12 scalps to his name at an average of 13.08.
“This is a good chance for me to change the mindset that short formats are only for the batters. The bowlers also have an equally important role to play, especially fast bowlers who start the attack with the new ball. They have very little time to get used to the track and implement their plans and get crucial wickets in the first three overs, and that is what we will try to do in every game,” Pretorious said.
Howell is banking on his experience to make their way into the top four. “I am delighted to lead Bangla Tigers as Captain this year. It is an important year for us — as we want to make it to top four. We have an impeccable squad, but we will have to work together as a collective unit. If we can all perform to our abilities, we are hard to beat,” he signed off.
Abu Dhabi T10 is partnering with Q-Tickets as their exclusive ticketing partner for the upcoming edition. Tickets for cricket’s fastest format are now available for sale for just Dh10. Q-Tickets will also be running co-promotions with 360 Play in various malls across Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Fujairah to sell tickets and other bundled offers.
ABU DHABI T10 SEASON 7 SCHEDULE (all times UAE)
New York Strikers vs Deccan Gladiators (6pm)
Northern Warriors vs Morrisville Samp Army (8.30pm)
Delhi Bulls vs Deccan Gladiators (3.30pm)
Team Abu Dhabi vs Chennai Braves (6pm)
Bangla Tigers vs New York Strikers (8.30pm)
Team Abu Dhabi vs Northern Warriors (3.30pm)
Morrisville Samp Army vs Chennai (6pm)
Deccan Gladiators vs Bangla Tigers (8.30pm)
Northern Warriors vs New York Strikers (3.30pm)
Morrisville Samp Army vs Team Abu Dhabi (6pm)
Delhi Bulls vs Chennai Braves (8.30pm)
Deccan Gladiators vs Team Abu Dhabi (3.30pm)
Delhi Bulls vs Bangla Tigers (6pm)
Chennai Braves vs Northern Warriors (8.30pm)
Morrisville Samp Army vs Delhi Bulls (3.30pm)
Northern Warriors vs Bangla Tigers (6pm)
Deccan Gladiators vs Chennai Braves (8.30pm)
New York Strikers vs Delhi Bulls (6pm)
Bangla Tigers vs Team Abu Dhabi (8.30pm)
Bangla Tigers vs Morrisville Samp Army (3.30pm)
Deccan Gladiators vs Northern Warriors (6pm)
New York Strikers vs Team Abu Dhabi (8.30pm)
Chennai Braves vs New York Strikers (3.30pm)
Morrisville Samp Army vs Deccan Gladiators (6pm)
Delhi Bulls vs Northern Warriors (8.30pm)
Chennai Braves vs Bangla Tigers (3.30pm)
Team Abu Dhabi vs Delhi Bulls (6pm)
New York Strikers vs Morrisville Samp Army (8.30pm)
Qualifier 1 — Team 1 vs Team 2 (3pm)
Eliminator — Team 3 vs Team 4 (6pm)
Qualifier 2 — Winner Eliminator vs Runners Up Qualifier 1 (8pm)
The Final (7pm)