[Exclusive by John Fuller]
Who'd be in your all-time World Twenty20 XI?
Choices, choices. In this game of T20 top trumps, it took quite a bit of thought to finally agree on who makes the grade. There’s rarely a dull moment when it comes to the ICC World T20 and plenty of talented cricketers across the nations.
Here’s who made the team…
Chris Gayle (WI) and Brendon McCullum (NZ)
These two will offer chances early on but are a total nightmare to bowl to. Both are capable of scoring at a ridiculous rate. Other contenders you could ponder over include Matthew Hayden (Australia), Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag (India) to name a few.
Gun batsman at three
Kevin Pietersen (Eng)
He’s either coming in after a first over calamity or jogging out with a platform to cause more mayhem. KP was integral when England won in 2010 and - assuming he doesn’t run himself off the first ball with that telltale, frenetic single - he can deliver in spades.
Middle order fireworks
AB De Villiers (SA), Shahid Afridi (Pak) and MS Dhoni (Ind)
This is where you need fluidity. Guys who can whack the cover off the ball but also deftly find the gaps and keep things ticking, if the bowling’s miserly.
AB De Villiers has proved himself as one of the most destructive batsmen of all-time in the shortest format, so he’s in at four. Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi at five can hit warp speed and has those fizzing, talismanic leggies up his sleeve. MS Dhoni at six, with responsibility for the wicketkeeping duties, offers a calm pool of experience and a proven pedigree as a finisher.
Power hitting all-rounders
Jos Buttler (Eng) and James Faulkner (Aus)
In T20, everyone needs to be able to swish the willow and club useful runs but these late order slots are for muscular guys who can clear the boundary and sometimes also offer a reliable bowling option or take the gloves.
England’s Jos Buttler offers a compelling case for seven, given his power and dexterity with the bat. Aussie James Faulkner bags the eighth berth with his dynamism and left-arm fast-medium bowling, allied with canny slower balls.
Mitchell Starc (Aus), Saeed Ajmal (Pak) and Lasith Malinga (SL)
Australia’s Mitchell Starc is a threat at any time of an innings and can have a dart with the bat so he gets the vote at nine in this all-time World T20 XI. A world-class spinner who can take wickets and bamboozle batsmen is a trump card. Look no further than Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal.
We end with Lasith Malinga, locks bouncing away, a trademark low-slung delivery action that can fox even the shrewdest opponent and the full box of bowling tricks.
Who could you have picked?
Now, that’s a T20 team. But you might easily pick another on equal merit from a completely different set of players. Dale Steyn and Umar Gul miss out while spinners such as Imran Tahir, Ajantha Mendis and Sunil Narine are close but not close enough.
With the bat, Aaron Finch, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson all have to kick their heels and watch from the stands. The list could go on…
The presence of two Englishmen might raise a few eyebrows and arguably Luke Wright is a strange omission by England given Big Bash League form and innings in past tournaments.
What would your team look like? Enjoy the tournament!