Analysing The Opposition – Elite T20

The tools and knowledge available to gain an understanding of the opposition may vary amongst the levels of cricket due to resources and interest. But the ability in this digital age to have something has never been easier.

A recent article published in the Herald Sun took us Inside the mind of Renegades coach, Simon Helmot and the planning that takes place before a game, described as follows.

Helmot has spent the past three days with the Melbourne Renegades brains trust — his specialist coaches — compiling and deconstructing vision, statistical and analytical data for his team’s season-defining clash against archrival Melbourne Stars at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

“We then break it up into three parts,” he said. “The conditions, opposition analysis and then most importantly we focus on our roles and our match-ups.

“Once we gather all the information we simplify it. Then (captain Aaron) Finch and I discuss different options and how we wish to approach the game and it’s really about risk management.

“We’re trying to avoid them getting what they need, with us getting what we need. You can’t always predict what the opposition is going to do, but you can get a good gauge from what they’ve done previously.”

What the Stars need is a win. The red-hot pre-tournament favourites are the only 0-3 side, a position no club has recovered from previously to make the finals.

The Gades ignited their season with a thumping win against Sydney Thunder, but at 1-2 are also precariously placed entering tonight’s derby.

And Helmot has had one of his key plans ripped away.

He wanted Finch to throw the ball to quick Peter Siddle when Kevin Pietersen — back from his Christmas holiday — hits the crease.

In Tests, Siddle dismissed Pietersen six times in 2013 and has removed the firebrand 10 times in all — his second-biggest Test bunny behind fellow Englishman Matt Prior (11).

“I was pretty keen for Siddle to bowl to KP, but it’s not happening (because of national duties),” Helmot said. “We now think, ‘Who’s going to be the best replacement? Who’s going to be the best match-up now?’”

Another headache for Helmot is fellow English import Luke Wright.

In the five Melbourne derbys the Stars opener has creamed 194 runs off 136 balls.

“Luke Wright’s been very, very good. So for him, we’ll attempt to be as unpredictable as possible,” Helmot said.

The Gades — who use director of cricket Tom Moody as their sounding board and have had Australian Twenty20 captain Finch since their inception — had their final team meeting at Etihad on Friday night.

All but one or two of the starting XI was locked in and players were briefed on their exact roles before splitting into specific batting and bowling meetings, giving them 24 hours knowing what they need to be prepared for.

“The coaching staff gathers as much knowledge and information and then deciphers it, simplifies it and presents it to the captain,” Helmot said.

“Then the captain has really simple messages that are able to be portrayed to his team.

“There’s also a responsibility for players to research — and we encourage that.”

Players are also given electronic tablets on which they can access all the preparation resources they need.

Helmot wouldn’t go into specifics, but if clean-striker Ben Rohrer waltzes to the crease Stars captain Cameron White might be tempted to bowl Jackson Bird — and Rohrer might try to avoid him.

Last summer Bird knocked over Rohrer for a pair of ducks and the Stars’ strike weapon has snared a leading — and economical — nine wickets from his four Melbourne derbys.

On the flip side is Finch, who would no doubt dominate discussion at the Stars’ planning table.

The superstar batsman averages a crazy 147.5 against the Stars, crunching 295 runs at a strike rate of 151.

Only Bird and Wright have taken Finch’s wicket in five games, while the 25 runs Finch hit off Clint McKay’s final over last year could hurt his hopes of playing on Saturday night.

But when plans go awry — a situation both Melbourne sides have found this season — it can be left up to the instincts of captains Finch and White.

“In BBL02 he had three backward points to (Brisbane Heat batsman) Thisara Perera off the bowling of Darren Pattinson,” Helmot said.

“I’m thinking, ‘What’s (Finch) doing here, I don’t remember this in the script’. The next ball Pattinson bowls a wide yorker and it was spooned up to Finchy himself, a backward-point catch.

“We didn’t have enough information on Perera as we would have liked, so Aaron made an assessment on the ground, execution was there and the wicket was taken.”

Helmot said Finch has the licence to make on-the-spot judgments, leaving him to facilitate a program for the players to be prepared technically, mentally and strategically.

“There’s a whole lot of information we need to gather to get what we call a simple outcome,” he said.

“The idea is to make the game as simple as possible.”

And after digesting this excellent insight over 800+ words, the last line is without doubt the most important of all to achieve clarity.

“The idea is to make the game as simple as possible.”

And a footnote in this case, unfortunately the Renegades planning counted for nought as they were smashed by the Stars!!

About Andrew Walton

Cricket exposure as a player, coach, fan, observer, analyst & tragic! Coached at Melbourne Cricket Club, Prahran Cricket Club. Premiership player and coach at South Yarra Cricket Club ~ Home of The Vincibles! Academy coach at Karnataka Institute of Cricket, Bangalore.
This entry was posted in Aaron Finch, Clarity, Execution, Game Sense, Melbourne Stars, Renegades, Simon Helmot, Sydney Thunder, T20, Tactics. Bookmark the permalink.

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