Picking a World Twenty20 XI
Now that the 2012 World Twenty20 is completed, it is time to present the mandatory World XI.
The main guiding principle is that players should be match winners who are in form, i.e those who were able to change the result of the match single-handedly.
Preference was given to big match temperament rather than statistics and consistency. This is a bit subjective, but on the plus side the team has not been picked by committee or an arbitrary score.
I have also tried to apply some strategies to get a winning team. Key among them are:
1). Pick the best XI first and captain last. However, not having a real captain in the XI makes it more like a Mercenary XI. After watching the painful inexperience of AB de Villiers I was tempted to add in the two elder SL statesmen. Botha can also be an out-of-the box pick here like the way the West Indies and Australia picked Darren Sammy and George Bailey.
2). Five genuine match winning bowlers in the XI. This is because in T20 matches the top three batsmen get to decide the fate of the batting team, and the middle order can be bailed out by mediocre tail-enders like Robin Peterson, but the bowlers can’t hide anywhere. India were lucky with Yuvraj Singh picking up wickets, but he remains a certified “Pie Chucker.”
3). Variety in bowling options. Currently there seems to be a surfeit of off-spinning options in the top-teams. I’ve tried to add some variety in the squad by including left arm spinners
So here is the list followed by the explanations:
The playing XI:
(WI) Chris Gayle
(AUS) Shane Watson
(ENG) Luke Wright/(NZ) Brendan McCullum
(SL) Kumar Sangakkara/(SL) Mahela Jayawardene (C)
(WI) Marlon Samuels
(IND) Virat Kohli/(ENG) Eoin Morgan (VC)
(PAK) Saeed Ajmal
(SA) Dale Steyn
(AUS) Mitchell Starc
(WI) Sunil Narine
(SL) Ajantha Mendis
Rest of the squad:
(AUS) Michael Hussey
(SL) Rangana Herath
(AUS) Pat Cummins
(ENG) Steven Finn
Specialist non-playing captain:
(SA) Johan Botha (in place of either McCullum, Morgan or Ajmal)
Watson, Gayle, Samuels picked themselves. I didn’t have a choice of excluding them really.
While Watson and Gayle can open, the role of Samuels is interesting. Considering the fact that most WI batsmen are more keen on sending the ball into the skies instead of nudging for singles, a role in the lower order – as a finisher – suggests itself for Samuels.
McCullum was in the running for the sheer experience he has in the T20 format and for being the only person with two T20I centuries. However, his big match temperament is a bit suspect and he loses out to Luke Wright – who is also a T20 specialist.
Morgan has the pedigree for keeping a cool head in big matches and his ability to keep wickets makes him the spare keeper in the side. However, I did notice that his innings tends to be a bit chancy with lots of lofted shots landing in no-man’s land. Lucky or brilliant placement? Take your pick.
Kohli, with his hot form in all three formats, and equally cool head in big chases provides a viable alternative. Either way whoever is selected will also be the vice-captain of the team.
The last specialist batting spot is a tie beween Mahela and Sangakkara. Mahela is more complete batsman, whereas Sangakkara can justify his place as wicketkeeper batsman. Both have the ability to bat at any position. They seem like twins in terms of batting abilities, and they even a made a switch in one of the matches to hoodwink the ICC.
I would love to have a bowling all-rounder as the captain like Imran Khan, Afridi or Botha in the XI but Watson is clearly not captaincy material and Yuvraj Singh, Shakib Al Hasan and Daniel Vettori are over-hyped
Mendis, Narine and Starc are non-controversial selections. Steyn is in for the class he brings and the respect given to him by all top batsmen. Ideally he should finish his quota before 12 overs and not be bowling at the death. Narine/Starc can share the death overs.
Included a left arm spinner (Herath was the best in this tournament) in the squad for variety purposes, but the class of Ajmal sees him push himself into the final XI.
Please shoot with your comments and alternate choices.