2016 has been phenomenal for Virat Kohli across formats © Getty Images
2016 has been phenomenal for Virat Kohli across formats © Getty Images

There have been debates on the effects of Twenty20 (T20) format of cricket on the game as a whole. Cricket legend and CricketCountry Chief Mentor VVS Laxman has recently opined that T20 cricket has proven to be beneficial in many ways. The various domestic T20 competitions have become a platform for young and raw talent to showcase their skills and get exposure while Laxman believes, the format has helped the batsmen learn how to score runs more quickly, which in turn leaves the bowlers with more time to pick all the wickets in the longer formats of the game. Laxman also marked Virat Kohli as a classic example of how to balance aggressive and defensive techniques.

Talking about the manifold effects of T20 cricket, Laxman said, “There is definitely a big impact on the current generation of batsmen playing or watching T20 format. T20 format has really benefitted the longer format whether it is four-day or five-day game, because the quicker you score runs, you give more opportunity to your bowlers to take those 20 wickets. Ultimately, in a four-day or a five-day match, if you don’t take 20 wickets, you will never win a match. So, I think the quicker you get runs  that will give more number or overs and more time to the bowlers to pick those 20 wickets. But other important thing is they put a lot of pressure on the bowlers by playing unconventional shots and also becoming more creative with their shot-selection.”

Emphasising on the flipside, Laxman highlighted, “But the flipside, or the only negative aspect if you are playing too much of T20 or aggressive cricket, it affects your defensive play. We have seen that when conditions are not suitable for your natural stroke-play or the bowlers are on top it helps. In the longer version of the game there are periods when bowlers put a lot of pressure on you by not giving easy runs, bowling maidens.

There is a time when you have to exhibit patience and you have to exhibit good defensive technique. Because of too much of T20 cricket, the defensive technique is being compromised. That’s one thing I would love the young generation of players to think about, because when you are playing in challenging conditions or against quality bowlers, if your defensive technique is not right, you are forced to play shots and your shot selection can be a problem. You will also become very restless, which is not a great state of mind when you are playing against quality bowlers.”

He mentioned about Kohli, who has displayed brilliant skills across formats, becoming one of the bests of contemporary cricket. “I will come back to Virat. Virat is a prime example where you have strong defence, at the same time you can dominate the bowlers and have the highest strikerate.  We always talk about AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and David Warner, but if you see Virat’s strike rate, it is no less than these players who I always feel are destructive batsmen. But Virat’s defensive technique will allow him to score runs consistently against the best bowlers in the world and also in tough conditions.

The reason is, he has got a lot of self-belief and confidence on his defensive technique. I feel any youngster can learn watching Virat Kohli, who is probably the best batsman in world cricket at the moment. If you have a strong defensive technique, doesn’t mean you comprise on your attacking game.”

Kohli ended 2016 as the No.2 ranked batsman in Test cricket and ODIs, while he tops the T20I charts. He was by far the best all-round batsman in the year, scoring 3 triple tons in Tests and almost amassing a thousand runs in the IPL.