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Key looks to future

Kent skipper ready to put skills to the test on big stage

Key: Raring to go

Robert Key is out to make up for lost time when he returns to England duty at the ICC World Twenty20.

ICC World Twenty20
Starts on Friday 5th June, Sky Sports 1 & HD1 You can also follow every game live with the Score Centre

"Twenty20 has forced me to really look into my batting and that has helped my one-day game in general, and I have had some success over the last couple of years."

Robert Key

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Kent captain Key believes his batting has been transformed by Twenty20, the format for which he has been recalled by the national selectors.

Key will be asked to use his new skills to assess target scores and guide England chases during the World Twenty20 tournament.

He was chosen ahead of county colleague Joe Denly for his experience in summing up situations - although Denly was a heavier scorer in the 2008 domestic competition, Key's strike rate was the better of the two, highlighting an ability to manoeuvre the ball around and locate the gaps.

"Four years ago I was a very average one-day cricketer," Key conceded.

"I think Twenty20 has forced me to really look into my batting and that has helped my one-day game in general, and I have had some success over the last couple of years.

"In 2005 I would have laughed if someone had said I was a Twenty20 specialist.

"But it has definitely had its effect; two years ago I was doing all right but Twenty20 came around, I had a really good tournament, and finished the summer fantastically in Championship cricket. A lot of that was the freedom you get from Twenty20."

The compressed format was originally misjudged as a non-stop slug-out when it was launched in 2003.

The anticipation was it would be detrimental to the techniques of the best players but, as it has developed, it has encouraged finesse players as much as big hitters.


"We originally, probably like a lot of people, thought it was a bit of a slog, just a bit of hit and miss," said Kent captain Key.

"But the more we thought about it, the more we worked out that your skills have to be highlighted that much more.

"Your yorkers as a bowler cannot be missed by an inch. You have to be right on it.

"As a batter you have to have a four or six option but you also have to be able to work the ball around - you cannot afford to waste three overs getting in, you have to know how to get off strike.

"Not all of us can stand there like Chris Gayle and smack it over mid-on all the time."

Spin is expected to be a key element of leading teams' tactics in the fortnight-long event and Key is not surprised given the success of Middlesex last summer.

Key's Kent team were defeated in the final at the Rose Bowl, with Indian left-armer Murali Kartik and English veteran Shaun Udal effecting the flow of runs following a rapid start to the chase of 188.

Key, who hit 52, shared an 89-run stand with Denly for the first wicket but once they were separated, the spinners suffocated the scoring.

"Spin in general, in the domestic game, is something we are poor at playing," Key said.

"Shaun Udal and Murali Kartik effectively won Middlesex the tournament last year.

"So you have to find an answer - whether it be sweeps, coming down the wicket and hitting the ball in a different way, freeing your hands up, whatever sort of stuff works for you, you have no choice but dealing with what they've got.

"Getting better at that is something I have taken into every form of cricket that I play."