Trent Woodhill: “Rahul’s hitting reminds me of Greenidge and Martyn”

Woodhill, a new-age cricket thinker, weighed in on the nitty-gritty of T20 batting, why unconventional approaches are the future and more.

Trent Woodhill was Royal Challengers Bangalore's Batting Talent Development and Fielding coach for five seasons.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Trent Woodhill, an unapologetically big fan of the T20 format, is a new-age cricket thinker and on the forefront of looking beyond the traditional hierarchy of the sport.  

Woodhill first made his name as David Warner's batting coach, back when the latter exploded on the scene with his blazing international debut.

He has mentored Australia's batting colossus Steven Smith, and worked closely with Virat Kohli during his time as Royal Challengers Bangalore's Batting Talent Development and Fielding coach. 

In a chat with Sportstar, Woodhill weighed in on the nitty-gritty of T20 batting, why unconventional approaches are the future and more.  

Should batting in T20s be seen differently from batting in other formats? 

Only from the point of view of strike rates. You still need to negotiate good bowling.

READ | Pressure of replacing Dhoni behind wickets was immense: KL Rahul

Is there more to T20 batting than power hitting?

A lot more, somebody like Smith, Williamson etc have become adept at maintaining a high strike rate by manipulating the field. Warner & Bairstow ran teams into the ground during last seasons IPL post power play. 

The physical and mental range of batsmen has changed so much in this last decade. How has that influenced batting in T20s? 

You need a good technical grounding and you need to be able to perform under pressure regardless of the format, but physically players have improved, T20 has driven this and the IPL in particular was the catalyst for Sub-Continental players becoming better athletes. 

How is the logic of the T20 run chase distinct from that of the ODI run chase? 

It’s a good question and one that is answered along with the conditions and the make up of your side and the bowlers to target in the opposition. Knowing the total and knowing what you can get in the last five overs may decide what you need to do to set up the chase.  

Let's talk about Steve Smith. Is he a great example of why an unconventional approach could be the way forward in the game?

It’s the way forward in sport in general. A good technique can only be called that if it repeats under pressure. People get confused by what they would rather look at or what they understand rather than what works for each individual.

Steve Smith is successful with his unorthodox batting technique and Woodhill feels an unconventional approach is the way forward in sport.   -  Twitter (@ICC)

 

In an interview earlier, you had said that if Steven Smith was Indian, his technique would just be accepted. Why's that? 

I think per capita there’s less coaches in India (this is changing) so it allows players to develop unhinged rather than being herded into one direction. Don’t get me wrong, players need coaches/mentors/support but the wrong type of coaching can do more damage than good if they’re trying to change the player’s biomechanics of something they don’t understand. 

How well do you think T20 franchises map statistics in the format?

Extremely well and improving every day.

The next step of evolution in the T20 game – could it be something like retiring a batsman out to send in a big-hitter at the death? 

It will evolve if allowed to. It needs to and will only enhance the game. I have plenty of ideas but will share at a later date..

Woodhill has likened KL Rahul's batting to Rohit Sharma, Damien Martyn and Gordon Greenidge.   -  Twitter (@BCCI)

 

How has Virat Kohli evolved as a T20 batsman? You worked closely with him at RCB. 

He’s one of the best players in the world because he’s adaptable. The same with Williamson and Smith. You could pick one of the 3 and you’re in front. Virat has introduced power to finesse and what was noticeable about his 2016 season was his ability to not only place the ball but put it out of the ground when needed. I loved my time with Virat, it was a lot of fun. 

A word on KL Rahul and his development as a T20 batsman? Was he always such a clean striker of the ball? 

He’s class and reminds me a lot of Rohit Sharma and Damien Martyn before them, going back further to Gordon Greenidge. They hit the ball so late and their swing is so pure that they generate so much power through a late weight transfer through an unimpeded back swing and follow through. 

There was a sense until recently that India had failed to ‘get’ T20 cricket, as a batting unit. Do you agree with that? And if the T20 World Cup goes ahead this year, we should see a batting line up with Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Pant, and Hardik Pandya in it. How exciting is that? 

They get it and will start as favourites and their depth is incredible. Pant and Hardik are scarily good from ball one!!

Who do you think is the best T20 batsman at the moment? Why?

Depends on the situation. David Warner has dominated the last three IPLs he has played. He sums up conditions better than anybody. AB does things that only Glenn Maxwell comes close to being able to do and I’m glued to TV when Rohit Sharma bats. Bairstow and Buttler are shining at the moment too and of course the big 3 (Smith, Kohli and Williamson) are match winners at the format. Hard question to answer. Based on the last IPL, I’m saying Warner.

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