Ian Chappell: How do you stop West Indian batters from hitting the big sixes?

Ahead of the WT20 final between West Indies and England, Ian Chappell writes that facing the Windies line-up, armed with battering rams that masquerade as cricket bats, is a frightening prospect 

India posted a challenging target, then got rid of danger man Chris Gayle early; they even forced the West Indies to play fifty dot balls. India achieved many of the things generally required to win T20 matches and yet they still got clobbered.

And clobbered is the word for the manner in which the West Indies forced their way into the final; they hit 20 fours and 11 sixes. That’s 146 out of a total of 196 in boundaries — a staggering three quarters of their runs where they didn’t have to run.

West Indies' Andre Russell during a training session at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday
West Indies' Andre Russell during a training session at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday

That is the enormity of the task facing England in the final; to restrict the boundary hitting of the powerful West Indies line-up, especially their amazing ability to clout sixes. Good luck with that assignment.

Powerful Russell
Even with no contribution from Gayle they still outhit India 11 sixes to four. The talented, athletic and powerful Andre Russell hit four sixes from just 20 balls faced at a crucial time in the chase. And they still had another three bash brothers sitting in the dugout waiting to unleash cannon shots into the Mumbai sky.

Russell smashes one of his four sixes against India on Thursday. Pics/AFP
Russell smashes one of his four sixes against India on Thursday. Pics/AFP

It’s a frightening prospect facing this West Indies line-up, motivated by their Board’s intransigence and armed with battering rams that masquerade as cricket bats. Nevertheless, that is the game that is now T20 cricket and England have to find answers if they want to win their second World Championship.

England have their own wrecking ball in Jos Buttler who belted three sixes from just 17 balls in propelling his team into the final. In addition, Jason Roy, Alex Hales (although not so much in this tournament) and Ben Stokes wield plenty of muscle power with the bat. Despite their power laden line-up they can’t expect to match the Windies in a six hitting contest, unless their bowlers find a way to keep the ball in the field of play rather than zooming into the grandstand.

Spinners need to shine And England face another challenge; so far, they’ve comfortably conceded the most sixes in the tournament, with the two biggest culprits being the spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid. The Windies displayed some vulnerability against spin in their loss to the feisty Afghanistan team so England need their spin duo to be at their best and can’t afford them to be hit out of the attack.

One area where England can help themselves and avoid the pitfalls that were self-inflicted by India, is not bowl no-balls. In the end that was probably the difference in the semi-final and at least England know that is something within their control. The other thing that would help but is not within anyone’s control is winning the toss.

Both semi-finals were won by the chasing team who had won the toss. It’s to be hoped that this doesn’t become a regular trend in T20 cricket where the game is at the mercy of the weather and dew can adversely affect the team bowling later in the evening. A game between two reasonably equal opponents should still be a fifty-fifty contest after the toss.

Certainly this is a fifty-fifty contest before the toss. England has more ways of winning than the West Indies who have but one very effective method of battering the opposition.

The equation for England sounds simple; stop the Windies hitting soaring sixes. In reality, on the small grounds of India and with a long list of power hitters, the West Indies aren’t so easy to nullify.

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