You can complain as much as you want about its ill-effects, but T20 cricket isn’t going anywhere. Fast, exciting and very often going down to the wire, this is the format that makes the game rich and pulls in the spectators.
We’ve looked only at the international matches for our team of the year, so IPL performances don’t count. Among those who narrowly missed out are Martin Guptill (there was no dislodging Chris Gayle and Shane Watson at the top of the order) and Dwayne Bravo, who was left out in favour of Mitchell Starc.
The name is enough. The sight of Chris Gayle, standing tall, ready to swing the bat to send the ball sailing over the park must be troubling a lot of bowlers in their sleep. Gayle has scored 368 runs in 11 matches at an average of 46.00. He has scored five fifties in 10 innings and has a strike rate of 144.88.
That record, and his ability to strike fear into the opposition makes him the first name on the team-sheet.
11 matches/10 innings/368 runs/highest of 85/46 ave/144.88 strike-rate/ 5 fifties
Probably the best T20 player this year. Watson has been phenomenal with both bat and ball and is one of several all-rounders of this team. He has scored 406 runs in 11 matches with a strike rate of 143.97. Add to this the 17 wickets he has taken. His overall economy rate is 7.19, but this year has been better — with an economy of 6.43.
11 matches/11 innings/406 runs/highest of 72/40.60 ave/143.97 strike-rate/4 fifties
11 matches/11 innings/17 wickets/15.82 ave/6.43 econ/14.7 strike-rate
Easy decision. Kohli has been in fantastic touch this year and is the standout performer for India in limited-overs cricket. In 12 innings, he has smashed 444 runs. A strike-rate of 133.33 guarantees some big hits and you can rely on him to take charge if the openers fall quickly. He is young and athletic and a valuable hand in the field too. His brash attitude also works in this format.
13 matches/12 innings/444 runs/78 highest/40.36/133.33 strike-rate/4 fifties
Raina is one of the most consistent players for India in this format. He may be in and out of the other two formats, but in T20s, Raina’s right up there with the best the country has produced. In 13 matches (10 innings) this year, he has scored 256 runs. He is India’s second-highest all-time T20I scorer (behind Gautam Gambhir) and more than deserves his place in this team.
14 matches/11 innings/257 runs/highest of 45/36.71 ave/127.22 strike-rate
Marlon Samuels (allrounder)
Anyone middle-order batsman who can score 325 runs in 10 innings with a strike-rate of 143.17 and can chip in with spin has to be in this team, having taken nine wickets in 12 matches. He was an integral part of the World T20 winning West Indies team.
12 matches/10 innings/325 runs/highest of 85/40.62 ave/143.17 strike-rate/4 fifties
12 matches/10 innings/9 wickets/24.11 ave/8.13 econ/15.1 strike-rate
Reliable and not easy to dismiss. Hussey’s one of those players who won’t throw away his wicket. He’ll get stuck in and put the bad balls away. With 264 runs in 10 innings this year, he’s bettered JP Duminy slightly to edge into the team. Plus, he’s a great finisher.
11 matches/10 innings/59 highest/44 ave/117.33 strike-rate/2 fifties
MS Dhoni (wicket-keeper)
As far as a wicket-keeper batsman goes in T20s, Dhoni is easily the best. He’s had his troubles this year, but there’s no doubting his ability to change the game. If you’re chasing a tough total and Dhoni gets into his rhythm, you have a great chance of him seeing you to the finish line. Counting the IPL, this is where Dhoni has seen most success.
14 matches/12 innings/268 runs/highest of 48/53.60 ave/125.82 strike-rate
This lad has the ability to turn the tables in a match. He can humiliate bowlers with his six-hitting, is a superb fielder, and a useful bowler. Can be inconsistent but his potential to take a match away from the opposition means he had to be in the XI.
12 matches/11 innings/236 runs/highest of 63/29.50 ave/168.57 strike-rate/2 fifties
There was temptation to pick Dwayne Bravo here, but his bowling record is nothing compared to Starc’s 14 wickets in just eight matches. With a strike-rate of 13.3 and an economy of 6.16, he convinced us to make a last-minute change.
8 matches/8 innings/14 wickets/13.71 ave/6.16 econ/13.3 strike-rate
He’s had a great year with the ball. Finn is now a mainstay of the English team and it’s no surprise. He’s scalped 17 batsmen in 11 matches at an average of 16.70. He can bowl very good bouncers and can come up with the odd yorker too. Finn’s the pace spearhead of this team.
11 matches/11 innings/17 wickets/16.70 ave/6.76 econ/14.8 strike-rate
25 wickets in 15 matches with an economy rate of 5.81 and an average of 13.96 is just stunning. Every ball of his is different and he is unreadable at times. If he starts his spell well enough, he can eat through a whole batting line-up.
15 matches/15 innings/25 wickets/13.96 ave/5.81 econ/14.4 strike-rate
Graeme Swann (12th man)
On turning tracks, it will be time to unleash Ajmal and Swann in tandem. That should do the damage. Sunil Narine was also a contender for this place but Swann’s record (12 matches/12 innings/17 wickets/14.70 ave/5.68 econ/15.5 strike-rate) was slightly better than Narine’s. It also gives a right-arm/left-arm bowling combination.
13 matches/13 innings/16 wickets/18.37 ave/6.16 econ/17.8 strike-rate