Be it a batting stalwart like Kane Williamson, or a classy Joe Root or a star all-format batter like Virat Kohli, the shortest format has seen even these prolific players evolve.
After all, evolve or perish seems to be the mantra that all cricketers are following these days to stay relevant in the shortest format of the game.
One man who wrote the book on evolving as a batter in modern day cricket, such that he was able to play shots literally all round the park and picked up the tag of Mr. 360 is AB de Villiers.
The South African cricket legend spoke to TimesofIndia.com in an interview recently and talked about new T20 batting sensation Suryakumar Yadav, young swashbuckling batter Dewald Brevis, also known as Baby ABD, how players like Joe Root and Kane Williamson changed their technique to adapt to T20I conditions and much more. ABD is part of the commentary panel in the ongoing SA T20 league.
Suryakumar Yadav has been phenomenal in the shortest format of the game. We also saw another star in the IPL – Dewald Brevis. Do you see any similarities in their batting?
Both Surya and Dewald have similarities in the way they approach the game. They both have a lot of intent. They both are pretty aggressive when they take the bowlers on. They never want to let the bowlers settle. Dewald is obviously a lot younger and he still has got to learn. SKY is very much experienced. He has found his game. He has come a long way after playing IPL and performing well for Mumbai Indians. Both of them excite me a lot. Both of them have a bright future.
Suryakumar Yadav (Twitter Photo)
SKY has a relatively bright future but Dewald holds a different league when it comes to inexperience. He is very young and has a long way to go. He has shown all of us that he has got talent. He just needs to nurture that, take his time, and understand his strengths and weaknesses. He needs to understand how to bat in the first gear as well, not just the fifth gear. He will learn all these with time.
Both SKY and Dewald have impressed me a lot. SKY has taken his game to the next level. It is fantastic for the game to have players like him (SKY) who can raise the bar.
Classy players like Joe Root and Kane Williamson have been seen inventing some unorthodox shots in T20Is as well. Is T20 cricket becoming more demanding?
You have to evolve as a player. All the time. If you stagnate, you will end up not enjoying the game, you will end up disappointing yourself and your teammates. There needs to be a constant checkup, reset every season – where my cricket is, what am I trying to achieve and how can I improve.
Joe Root and Kane Williamson
I did this throughout my career. This kept me fresh and committed to the game. I always wanted to raise the bar every single season until I felt, in the end, that I don’t want to play anymore and that it is difficult to raise the bar (any more).
But it is great to see these players (Root, Williamson, etc) take the game to the next level, coming up with new shots, finding ways to put more pressure on the bowlers, and vice versa. Bowlers are finding (newer) ways to put pressure on batters. That’s the beauty of the game. It never stands still. Always evolve and get better.
I always expect that from players as well. If you have the burning desire to be the best player in the world, you always look for ideas and new ways to improve your game.
What about the wicket-keepers? How challenging a role is that to play in T20I cricket?
It (T20s) is a fast format. I always enjoyed keeping when I was playing. You always ensure getting a better angle of the wicket and what a bowler is trying to do. You get a good angle of the wickets itself and the conditions. You see swing and bounce and when you go to bat, it is an added advantage in a way.
AB de Villiers (AFP Photo)
I don’t think it is challenging. Definitely not challenging. It is a 20-over game. When you get up the next morning, you don’t feel sore like in a Test match, when you keep for 2 days. I honestly don’t think it is challenging (keeping in T20Is).
You just need to be sharp; you need to know the field placements and help your captain (in terms of arranging the field). I think it is a great job to have. You can get a lot of knowledge from your keeping and apply it to your batting and score runs for your team.