‘He’s absolutely nailed him!’
After the Test and ODI XI comes the T20 XI. When choosing the XI, I went by at the players’ T20 stats, rather than their T20 international stats.
Like the Test and ODI XI, I chose one player per country.
1. Virat Kohli (India)
T20 stats – 9315 runs, 41.77 average, 134.10 strike rate, five hundreds, 67 fifties
Kohli’s the best T20 batsman of all time. The only reason Chris Gayle has more T20 runs than Kohli is that he’s had the luxury of playing T20 leagues all over the world.
Kohli doesn’t slog in T20 cricket, yet his strike rate is brilliant. Kohli’s feats in the 2016 IPL (973 runs in 16 innings/average of 81.08/strike rate of 152.03) is the best individual batting season in the IPL I’ve ever seen. As for his T20I record, he’s the only player to have an average of over 50 in all three formats in international cricket.
Virat Kohli, the most complete batsman for all forms in the 21st century.
2. Jos Buttler (England/wicketkeeper)
T20 stats – 6174 runs, 30.87 average, 144.52 strike rate, zero hundreds, 43 fifties, 145 catches, 27 stumpings
To outscore Kevin Pietersen in T20 cricket and be one of England’s leading T20 run-scorers is no joke. Add 172 dismissals behind the stumps and England have their best limited-overs cricketer in Jos Buttler.
A man who can play shots all over the ground, Buttler’s T20 numbers as an opener is something to froth over – 1828 runs, an average of 41.5 and a strike rate of 150.6. He’s a serious player up the order, and his role as opener could dictate England’s T20 World Cup chances of lifting the trophy a second time.
3. Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
T20 stats – 4774 runs, 30.4 average, 125.46 strike rate, one hundred, 32 fifties
One of the most humble cricketers, Williamson is one of the few cricketers in international cricket nowadays who is hardly disliked by opposition fans. Whether it be punching on the back foot through the covers or driving down the ground, Williamson has found a way to score runs in T20 cricket by following the coaching manual.
One of the best T20 captains, Williamson has done a brilliant job as New Zealand’s T20I skipper until date, especially when he led New Zealand to the 2016 T20 World Cup semi-finals.
4. AB de Villiers (South Africa)
T20 stats – 8981 runs, 37.57 average, 150.53 strike rate, four hundreds, 66 fifties
AB de Villiers is an outstanding player – there’s no doubt about that. What he did to help Virat Kohli’s weakness against the short ball is just one of the many selfless acts he has done to his international and national teammates at franchise and international cricket.
Dubbed Mr 360 for a reason, bowlers hate bowling to de Villiers – especially when he’s set at the crease on a flat wicket at Chinnaswamy Stadium. Just ask Dale Steyn and co.
5. Kieron Pollard (West Indies/captain)
T20 stats – 10421 runs, 31.57 average, 152.13 strike rate, one hundred, 51 fifties, 289 wickets, 24.51 average, 8.2 economy
Kieron Pollard is the greatest T20 cricketer of all time. Second-highest T20 run-scorer, 11th-highest T20 wicket-taker and has taken the most catches in T20 cricket (300 catches). The most destructive middle-order batsman in T20 cricket, Pollard has shown his ability to save the Mumbai Indians from a collapse in IPL finals.
Alongside his bowling and extraordinary fielding, Pollard’s leadership skills have been nothing short of world-class. Alongside captaining the West Indies, Pollard led the Trinbago Knight Riders to the 2020 CPL title undefeated throughout the tournament.
With the Trans-Tasman bubble in place alongside BBL franchises allowed to sign a third international, surely Pollard gets a gig in BBL10, or else it’d be a waste of money missing out on West Indies’ KP.
6. Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
T20 stats – 4970 runs, 21.05 average, 122.11 strike rate, zero hundreds, 19 fifties, 354 wickets, 21.07 average, 6.89 economy
In T20 cricket, there is no left-arm spinner better than Shakib. A cult hero in Kolkata for his IPL feats, the all-rounder from Bangladesh, has shown his mettle in T20 leagues, winning BPL, CPL and IPL titles to date.
For a left-arm spinner to play over 13 years of T20 cricket and still have a career economy below seven shows Shakib’s ability to adapt in the batsman’s game. With limited opportunities with the bat down the order, Shakib has played handy knocks in the death overs.
7. Ryan ten Doeschate (Netherlands)
T20 stats – 7524 runs, 29.97 average, 134.06 strike rate, two hundreds, 34 fifties, 114 wickets, 25.36 average, 8.16 economy
The greatest T20 cricketer of all time, Ten Doeschate ranks 15th among highest run-scorers in T20 cricket and the highest run-scorer in T20 cricket by an Associates cricketer. One aspect of his game which is severely underrated is his ability to rotate the strike and convert ones into twos and twos into threes.
With a brilliant T20 career thus far, Ten Doeschate is another serial winner – winning T20 tournaments with Essex and Kolkata Knight Riders.
8. Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
T20 stats – 321 wickets, 17.38 average, 6.27 economy
A wizard with the ball in hand, Rashid Khan has enjoyed success in T20 internationals and franchise tournaments. Spinning the ball both ways at an uncomfortable speed for batsmen, you’d have to be an incredible player of spin or have a tremendous amount of luck to pick his variations.
One of the best T20 spinners in the world, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rashid become the first T20 spinner or even first T20 bowler to take over 1000 T20 wickets.
9. Mitchell Starc (Australia)
T20 stats – 142 wickets, 17.78 average, 7.14 economy
While the likes of Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes have taken more wickets in T20 cricket than Starc, I went ahead with the NSW pacer purely for his outstanding average and accurate economy.
Give Starc the new ball, and he’ll swing it at 150 kilometres and take wickets. If Starc remains injury-free until the T20 World Cup, Australia’s chances of winning the T20 World Cup for the first time will go up a lot.
10. Umar Gul (Pakistan)
T20 stats – 222 wickets, 20.16 average, 7.65 economy
I haven’t seen a better T20 quick from Pakistan like Umar Gul. A workhorse who always gave his 100 per cent and stayed away from controversies, Gul is one of the best T20 bowlers of all time.
With an almost unplayable yorker, Gul played a massive role in Pakistan winning the 2009 T20 World Cup. Retiring from cricket a few days ago, Umar Gul’s T20 feats won’t be forgotten by Pakistan fans any time soon.
11. Lasith Malinga (West Indies)
T20 stats – 390 wickets, 19.69 average, 7.08 economy
The second-highest wicket-taker in T20 cricket after Dwayne Bravo is there anyone better in business with the ball in T20 cricket like Lasith Malinga. With all the T20 variations and a truckload of experience, very few quicks will be able to emulate Lasith Malinga’s T20 feats.