An ultimate T20 XI to celebrate 10 years


The game has been shaken by T20. It has added an entirely new dimension, and on the 10th anniversary of the creation of the game, this is a reflection of the best, so far.

Feel free to disagree and post in the comment section below your own XI. This eleven has been selected to give balance, and is largely not selected purely as a list of who has the most runs or wickets. It is based on who can be considered the most complete t20 players in their respective roles.

The ultimate T20 XI that have earned their place in the last decade:

1. Chris Gayle – Batsman – Batting average: 45.55  – Strike rate: 154.91 – Runs: 5512 – 100s/50s: 11/37

Chris Gayle is indisputably the most consistently destructive batsman in T20. He has the most hundreds, two more than the next two on the list combined. He has hit an astonishing 400 sixes which is the most in history, compared to second place Kieron Pollard with 269. He is the second highest run scorer ever, with only 52 runs off the top spot yet 46 games less than  the player in top spot. The rate at which he has achieved is staggering, and this was shown with a breathtaking 175* off 66 in IPL 6, which doubled up as the quickest ever hundred in history (in 30 balls) and the highest T20 score. He was also vital in the West Indies T20 world cup win of 2012. He was the first name on the sheet. Universally feared by all, and universally accepted as the greatest T20 batsman, ever.

2. Shane Watson – Allrounder – Batting Average: 34.04 – Strike rate: 144.63 – 100s/50s: 1/24 – Wickets: 98-  Bowling average: 22.84

Shane Watson is a very handy T20 player. Capable of being a destructive top-order batsman, although often making it to fifty before giving it away, he offers aggression and 50-over feel at the top. In T20 he is a genuine allrounder, and his middle-over seamers are extremely useful, and often hard to get away. In the 2012 world cup he almost single handedly placed Australia in the final by being second top run scorer and wicket taker. On his day, he is arguably the best allrounder in the world and certainly worth his weight in the side as he contributes in all major disciplines, and can even captain.

3. Mahela Jayawardene – Batsman-  Batting average: 29.56  – Strike rate: 129.27 – Runs: 129.27 – 100s/50s: 2/25

The Sri Lankan batsman although not averaging in excess of what may be considered greatness is technically a masterful batsman. He offers a certain anchor and reliability that every side needs. A cool head, with a fantastic temperament but often underrated qualities with regards to power hitting. Jayawardene is actually the leading run scorer in the T20 world cup and strikes at nearly 130 which is perfectly respectable for a format notorious for six hitting, despite him being more a Test and ODI player on paper. He is the consistent and well-travelled number three that can guide an innings and make sure it doesn’t collapse, whilst also being able to accelerate when needed.

4. Kevin Pietersen – Batsman – Batting average: 34.31  – Strike rate: 1137.10 – Runs: 2402 – 100s/50s: 1/13

Despite not having had a significant IPL career, as the player of the tournament in the successful English victory in the 2010 World cup, he is a serious player in the format. Naturally aggressive, always pushing on the front foot, coming at the bowler, Pietersen is a brilliantly destructive batsman against spin, and pace. He fights fire with fire. If the bowler is bowling in excess of 90 MPH, it just means he can hit it longer. He is not only about raw power either, as he has his ability to innovate with his switch hitting, and has made his name as one of the world’s premier batsman playing in an uncompromisingly dominant fashion. He is one of the hardest batsman to bowl at as he hits good balls for boundaries, not just just the bad one.

His attitude, often seen as arrogance, but is matched by tremendous skill. He is a perfect batsman for the middle order in  T20.

5. Suresh Raina – Batsman/ occasional Off break – – Batting average: 33.78  – Strike rate: 140.17 – Runs: 4054 – 100s/50s: 2/24 = 33 wickets at 29.48

He has snuck under the radar, but looking at his raw stats, there are really few better middle order T20 batsman. He has a relatively mediocre test career and an underwhealming ODI record. But, to hold an average of 33 when consistently coming in during the middle order is highly regarded. His clean striking, particularly against spin, but also against pedestrian seam bowling is some of the best in the game. His special ability to find gaps in the field and expose weaknesses, often playing mind games has been fantastic, and he is a brilliant fielder especially in the in field too. He is the seventh highest T20 scorer of all time, with Gayle being the only other representative on the list.

This side has so far only got one left hander too, so this should add an additional dimension in that respct.

6. AB De Villiers – Batsman/Wicketkeeper  – Batting average: 29.62  – Strike rate: 131.71 – Runs: 2874 – 100s/50s: 1/16 – 95 Catches and 15 stumpings.

One of the most versatile cricketers in the world. He champions power hitting and innovation. He is a gun fielder at backward point, but recently has been improving behind the stumps too. He can captain and bat anywhere in the top six. But, it is his ability to take innings away with clean confident hitting that is exceptional. As is his ability to manipulate the field and keep the score rolling. Coming in at five would mean coming in at the most pivotal point in the innings and being able to quickly adapt. He would either be accelerating the innings, power hitting at the end of the innings, or ensuring there isn’t a complete collapse with three wickets having fallen cheaply. A cool head and good hands, a great technique and able to bat anywhere. What more is needed?

7. Azhar Mahmood – Allrounder – Batting Average: 26.98 – Strike rate: 136.29 – 100s/50s: 2/18 – Wickets: 200-  Bowling average: 23.17

The veteran of the side, but by no means there for sentimental purposes. At 38 years old, Mahmood is still demanded by English county sides season on season. He holds a special ability to power hit at the death, or play an innings when promoted as a pinch hitter. His uncanny control to bowl yorkers at the death, makes him also one of the most valuable bowlers in the world. Mahmood simply offers another very competent option with bat and ball, and brings a wealth of experience too. The sign of a good allrounder is having a batting average above a bowling average, so when the player has considerable runs and wickets behind them, and still achieves this, it shows they are highly reputable and have performed consistently.

8. Lasith Malinga – Bowler – Right arm fast –  Wickets: 212 – Average: 17.80 Strike rate: 16. – Four/Five wicket halls: 5/4

Not many bowlers posses the ability and control that Malinga does, in the history of cricket. He is quite an exceptional cricketer really. Bowling with an action arguably not even over arm, but almost entirely round arm, his reputation as a slinger allows him to generate searing pace. His capacity to bowl upwards of 90 mph is threatening at both ends of the innings, but it is his ability to bowl variations almost at will which makes him so deadly. When a batsman is looking out for a ball that can hit their head or toes at either 90 or 69 Mph it makes it exceptionally hard to set oneself up. His incredible control has reaped rewards, and he is the leading wicket taker in IPL history. He is a dead on certain in the side.

9. Dale Steyn – Bowler – Right arm fast –  Wickets: 139 – Average: 21.52 – Strike rate: 20.1. – Four/Five wicket halls: 0/1

The selection of Dale Steyn is in spite of his modest T20 stats. He is undeniably currently the best seam bowler in the world in test and arguably ODI cricket. A genuine fast bowler that jags the ball off a straight with a brutal accurate bouncer and effective yorker, he is always going to be lethal whatever format. His lack of five wicket and four wicket halls may be a point to debate, but essentially Steyn is selected a pure strike bowler. He is unlikely to take a five wicket hall, but is highly likely to pick up important wickets and strike at crucial times. I’m sure any captain will not complain having him in the side.

10. Sunil Narine – Right arm offspin/mystery spin – Wickets: 100 – Average: 15.95 – Strike rate: 17.7 – Four/Five wicket halls: 5/1

Narine came absolutely unheard of, to claim the IPL player of the tournament in 2012 before helping the West Indies to win the T20 world cup in 2012. Alongside the batting maestro Chris Gayle (and Marlon Samuels), Narine has turned the West Indies into the most formidable T20 side around. His ability to bamboozle batsman with balls that spin both ways, fighting the ball beautifully has reasserted that although T20 is notorious for six hitting, spin has a major part to play in taking wickets. Narine has a very good economy rate of 5.37 runs per over which is outstanding, and it is largely the reason he can take wickets so regularly. Pressure builds and the batsman often does something unnecessarily stupid.

11. Saeed Ajmal – Right arm offspin/mystery spin – Wickets: 155 – Average: 16.27 – Strike rate: 15.4 – Four/Five wicket halls: 0/0

If Narine is a mystery spinner, then Saeed Ajmal is a magician. He is on the score sheet as an off spin bowler, but there is of little contreversey that it is his variations, in addition to his off spin which makes him one of the best bowlers in the world. His Doosra spins the opposite way to an offspinner, and almost spins as much. He has not been allowed to play in the IPL, but was vital in helping  Pakistan win the 2009 T20 world cup with 12 wickets. Like Narine, Ajmal has a brilliant strike rate and can bowl at any point in the innings, even at the start.

12th man: Yuvraj Singh – Allrounder – Yuvraj narrowly misses out ahead of his countryman Suresh Raina. Yuvraj is a genuine allrounder in the format, with the ability to destroy bowling which is flourishing back lift and crisp hitting. His left arm spin has also been known to often take useful wickets, and of course he is a brilliant fielder. It is his slight inconsistency that means he misses out.

Others strongly considered: MS Dhoni, Michael Hussey, Mohammad Hafeez, Shakib Al Hasan, Brad Hodge, David Hussey, Morne Morkel, Umar Gul, Marlon Samuels, Eoin Morgan, Brendon McCullum, Shahid Afridi, Shaun Marsh, David Warner, Ajentha Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekera, Rohit Sharma.

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