Paul Farbrace on T10 cricket: It’s about being on the front foot every ball

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Coach of Team Abu Dhabi opens up on a successful foray into franchise cricket

Team Abu Dhabi have got off to a flyer in the Abu Dhabi T10, winning four games out of four. Paul Farbrace‘s side are the only unbeaten side left in the tournament and he puts that down to a clear strategy which has worked wonders thus far.

“I’ve said to the bowlers that their focus is taking one wicket in each over that they bowl. So if Fiddy [Fidel Edwards] swings the ball, and he goes one for 16, I’m happy with that because if we keep taking wickets all the way through, then that puts pressure on the opposition and it slows the scoring rate down. So for me, don’t worry about how many runs you go for. If you’ve got that skill to get a wicket and you take wickets, it puts the opposition under pressure.”

T10 is a format where it’s as straightforward as taking wickets and scoring boundaries and it’s no surprise to see a team captained by Liam Livingstone and including the likes of Chris Gayle and Paul Stirling stand clear at the top of the sixes list, with 40 in their first four matches alone.

“Our batting philosophy is very simple. Let’s look to hit as many fours and sixes as we can. Our view about batting is that maybe one night we might get bowled out for 50 in six overs, but we’d rather that than getting ourselves to 72 for seven off ten overs.”

There’s a story about Farbrace emailing Jason Gillespie, then Yorkshire first-team coach, shortly after a Sri Lanka side coached by Farbrace won the T20 World Cup in 2014 simply quoting, ‘ruthless simplicity’. Farbrace was the second-team coach at Yorkshire just four months earlier and that mantra is something that is still visible in his teams.

In his short time with the Abu Dhabi outfit so far, Farbrace mentions how he is trying to drill in the idea of imposing themselves on the opposition, which was an integral aspect of the England white-ball revolution in which Farbrace played a key part.

“It’s about being on the front foot every ball that you’re involved with. Take the positive option. Don’t take a backward step. If you keep doing that and you stick to that process, you’re going to enjoy your skills. And really, that’s our brand. That’s how we want to play and we’ve been adamant from ball one that’s how we’re gonna play. So far, it seems to be going okay.”

For all his wealth of cricketing knowledge, it’s Farbrace’s first experience of working in franchise cricket and a first taste of the 10-over format. Contrary to popular belief, the former England assistant coach reckons that T10 is actually a harder format for batters as opposed to bowlers.

“It’s really interesting, because I came into this thinking actually, this is quite a brutal game for bowlers. And that bowlers are under severe pressure. Actually in this first week, the one thing that I think I’ve learned is that it’s actually the other way around. I think it’s harder for the batter’s than it is for the bowlers. Because the expectation level is that the batter can hit every ball for four and six.”

Working alongside former England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor, the assistant coach for Team Abu Dhabi and the second female coach in men’s professional franchise cricket, is something else that Farbrace is evidently enjoying.

“She’s been excellent. She has worked a lot with Phil [Salt] in the past, she’s worked brilliantly with him and his keeping has got better as the tournament has gone on. Her intensity in practice and her work rate is excellent,” Farbrace said. “She’s got good knowledge. She’s a good communicator, and she understands people and I think that’s what coaching is about these days. Understanding people and finding out what you can do to help them. I’ve always said that players learn from players, they don’t learn from coaches. Our job is to facilitate that learning.”

And judging by his initial experience so far of the competition, the former T20 World Cup winning coach genuinely believes that T10 could be the route for cricket to have a seat at the Olympics.

“I honestly think this could be the way to get cricket into the Olympics. It would be a brilliant way to showcase to the world this great game of cricket and it would be a brilliant fit. It’s a shorter competition. It’s all action. It’s brilliant to watch, the players enjoy it and they love playing it,” Farbrace said. “It probably is the vehicle to get cricket into the Olympics, because I think it would attract a lot of people to the game who perhaps don’t watch the game of cricket.”

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