Notts Outlaws open their NatWest T20 Blast campaign at the Yorkshire Vikings tomorrow night (Friday, 6.30pm) with Michael Lumb insisting that the skill levels among batsmen have never been higher.
The 37-year-old, who returns to his former Club where father Richard also played, has been one of the leading exponents in the format since its inception, playing for England and also in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Australia’s Big Bash (BBL).
During that time, team totals and scoring rates have increased significantly, and left-hander Lumb believes that is down to players honing their skills to take into account the need to score quickly.
“There’s definitely been a marked change in how people approach T20, particularly in the last seven or eight years with the different tournaments appearing around the world,” said Lumb, who scored 269 runs in 12 innings during last summer’s T20.
“The skills have gone through the roof in all aspects of the game, but especially in the batting, with the power hitting and also the placement.
“If you look at AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli or Eoin Morgan, they place the ball 360 degrees around the ground - basically anywhere the field aren’t.
“The skills have gone through the roof in all aspects of the game.”
“When you’re practising for T20, you just upscale it a bit in terms of tempo. You tend to go a bit harder at it in practice and work on trying to hit the balls out of the park.”
Opener Lumb struck a fluent 95 in the first of two Second XI Twenty20 North Division games against Northamptonshire Steelbacks yesterday (Wednesday), which the Outlaws used as NatWest T20 Blast warm-up games.
He is looking forward to the start of the competition and the trip to Headingley, which Notts will go into full of confidence after last weekend’s 50-over Royal London One-Day Cup final victory over Surrey at Lord’s.
Lumb said: “It’s a long time ago since I played for Yorkshire now, but I always want to win when I go back there. They will have a big crowd there who will be desperate for them to win. It will be a good atmosphere.
“It’s a little bit easier to go from a 50-over competition to T20 than from Championship cricket because it’s also with the white ball and the skills are similar.
“It was my fourth win at Lord’s – one with Yorkshire, one with Hampshire and two with Notts – but this one was really memorable because of the record knock from Baz (Hales), which was incredible and helped us come back from a difficult situation.”
Nottinghamshire have never been champions of the English domestic T20 competition that began in 2003.
Their best finish was at the 2006 finals day that was held at Trent Bridge when they were runners-up to Leicestershire Foxes.
“Winning the Blast is definitely a challenge for us because we have the squad capable of doing it, but for whatever reason, we haven’t been able to do it while I’ve been here,” said Lumb.
“We have got a very tight group and we can produce the skills at the right time, we can go that bit further than we have before.
“The winning momentum we have built up in one-day cricket can help us. We’ve had a little bit of a rest and hopefully that can help us do the business in the matches to come.”
Lumb is excited by the arrival of overseas players, Australian Dan Christian and New Zealander Ish Sodhi, who he feels will add an extra dimemsion to the Outlaws side.
“I have seen a little bit of Ish (Sodhi) playing in the Big Bash. He gives it a good rip.”
He added: “It’s great to have Dan coming back because he knows the club and what we are about.
“He’s got his ideas about the game as captain and he’s very experienced in this format, having played a lot in the IPL and Big Bash. He’s a very exciting player and it’s great to have him on your side.
“I have seen a little bit of Ish playing in the Big Bash. He’s got experience all around the world and he gives it a good rip as a leg-spinner.”
Notts Outlaws squad to face Yorkshire Vikings (from): Steven Mullaney, Riki Wessels, Alex Hales, Harry Gurney, Luke Wood, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Tom Moores, Brett Hutton, Michael Lumb, Dan Christian, Ish Sodhi, Billy Root.
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