Twenty20 rules Law's thoughts
It is not simply because Stuart Law is nicknamed ‘Judge’ that his words carry weight.
The most successful captain in modern-day Australian cricket, Queensland’s all-time leading run-scorer and one of the best overseas players to grace the English game, Law speaks with an authority that can be surpassed by few on the county circuit.
It is, therefore, difficult to disagree with him when he says of walking out to bat in the Twenty20 Cup: “It gets the juices going, you feel 10ft tall and bulletproof.
“There’s the music and the fireworks and the crowd cheering - with all that going on around you, there's a massive adrenalin rush and it still sends a shiver down your spine when you walk out,” he told ecb.co.uk.
That these comments come from a player of Law’s standing - he has made 330 first-class appearances, including one Test for Australia, and won 54 one-day international caps during a career that has yielded more than 35,000 runs - says much for the esteem in which the domestic 20-over competition is held.
“I can tell you that playing Twenty20 cricket, especially a Lancashire-Yorkshire game, is the closest you’ll get to experiencing a crowd in
one-day international cricket,” he added.
“That's exactly what you want as a player - that's why we're playing the game.
“I'm 37, and you think you've seen it all and experienced it all. But the Twenty20 is something else.”
The atmosphere clearly suits Law, Lancashire’s most prolific batsman in the competition last season with 387 runs at an average of 48 during their march to the final.
“When I was growing up one of my coaches said one-day cricket was just an extension of
four-day cricket, rather than the other way around, because you’re able to express yourself more in one-day cricket.
“The Twenty20 has taken that one step more, almost to a ridiculous level. But what seem like ridiculous shots now will be the norm in three years’ time.
“It gives you more freedom to play - you can see that in the way that Mal Loye sweeps the fast bowlers for six, which he now does in 50-over cricket.
“If you go for a shot and it doesn't come off, no one is going to give you a rollicking because you’re just trying to expand your strokeplay.”
That is not to say there is any lack of intensity during a Twenty20 Cup match - far from it, in fact.
Though Law claims his role in the field often extends to little more than "standing on the edge of the circle and watching the ball whizz past me to the boundary", he admits there is little chance for the players to sit back and soak up the rarified atmosphere.
“You have to be on the ball all the time,” Law said. “In championship cricket you can have a bad couple of sessions and still win the game.
“In one-day cricket you can get away with a few bad overs, but in Twenty20 three bad balls can cost you the game.”
Lancashire go into their opening Northern Division fixture on Tuesday - a day/night encounter against Derbyshire - as the form side in the country: they sit top of the Liverpool Victoria County Championship and last weekend booked their place in the C&G Trophy final.
Though Law admits winning the championship remains Lancashire’s priority - “it is the true test of a cricketer, the ultimate in this country” - he insists it is not overly ambitious to chase glory on all fronts.
“The Twenty20 is not as prestigious as some of the other competitions, but players put a lot of importance on winning trophies,” he said.
“You saw that in the way Somerset celebrated after beating us in the final last year - it meant a lot to them.
“There is always the prestige of winning a trophy, no matter what that trophy is.”