The 2010s have been the decade in which the Twenty20 format took over cricket. One-dayers now seem to be like a mere extension of a T20 match while Test cricket has been irrevocably changed by the cut and thrust of the popular format. Players don’t play cricket in quite the same way, they have adapted... indeed, some might even say they have evolved.
But while T20 cricket changed other formats, it didn’t stand still itself. The format has been in the midst of a constant churn of tactics and styles. For a while mystery bowlers were the norm, then came the leg-spinners and ‘the 360 degree’ batsmen. Given that the format itself is so young, teams continue to experiment with tactics and each year seems to throw up something new.
It is precisely this inconsistency of styles that makes it perhaps the most democratic of all formats. Experience is a vital ingredient in Test cricket and ODI now has a staple set of tactics. But in T20 cricket anything goes and everyone has a chance. One good innings, a burst of wickets, a few good overs in a row, a few moments of individual brilliance could change the course of a match and decide the winner.
Perhaps that is how the West Indies have managed to win two T20 World Cups in the decade gone by. They are a dangerous yet inconsistent team and no moment described them better than Carlos Brathwaite slamming four consecutive sixes in the last over to help them win the 2016 World Cup. With the Windies and T20 cricket, you never quite know what will be served up.
ICC Men's T20 World Cup winners this decade
| Year||Winner|| Runner-up|
|2012||West Indies||Sri Lanka|
Pakistan have won the most matches but their win-loss percentage isn’t that great. India have a great win-loss record but they haven’t won a World Cup while West Indies, who have lost more matches than they have won in the last ten years, have two trophies in their kitty. Go figure.
Still, in this inconsistent format, Virat Kohli has managed to find consistency. He is one of the few batsmen in world cricket to strike a balance between the three formats. He tops the run-scoring charts in the last decade with an average of 52.66. He has managed to score these runs at a very healthy strike-rate of 138.07. Second in the ranks is Rohit Sharma, who has only gotten better after he switched to opening the innings for India and he has also managed to score four centuries. West Indies, once again, don’t have a single batsman in the top 10.
Top batsmen of the decade (by runs)
|V Kohli (INDIA)||75||2633||52.66||138.07||0||24|
|RG Sharma (INDIA)||90||2392||32.32||140.12||4||17|
|MJ Guptill (NZ)||71||2197||34.87||136.29||2||15|
|Mohammad Shahzad (AFG)||65||1936||31.22||134.81||1||12|
|PR Stirling (IRE)||71||1912||29.87||138.05||0||16|
|EJG Morgan (ENG)||83||1901||29.24||134.34||0||10|
|AJ Finch (AUS)||58||1878||38.32||156.50||2||11|
|DA Warner (AUS)||68||1806||30.10||141.09||1||13|
|Mohammad Hafeez (PAK)||80||1726||25.01||115.52||0||10|
|Shoaib Malik (ICC/PAK)||84||1709||31.64||126.40||0||5|
Almost as important as scoring runs in T20 cricket is the rate you score them at. A 20 off 5 balls is worth its weight in gold while a 20 off 18 balls doesn’t quite cut it. If anything, this is where India have been found lacking in a little. They haven’t quite managed to unearth a power hitter that can swing it with the best. Hardik Pandya had started to develop in the role but injuries derailed him and KL Rahul comes into the list only in the 11th position.
Top 10 batsman (by strike-rate)
|Hazratullah Zazai (AFG)||13||519||162.69|
|C Munro (NZ)||60||1546||160.04|
|GJ Maxwell (AUS)||61||1576||160.00|
|AJ Finch (AUS)||58||1878||156.50|
|HG Munsey (SCOT)||38||987||154.21|
|E Lewis (WI)||29||833||153.12|
|NLTC Perera (ICC/SL/World)||79||1169||152.41|
|DJG Sammy (WI/World)||59||558||152.04|
|Shahid Afridi (ICC/PAK)||73||949||151.59|
|SR Watson (AUS)||51||1376||147.48|
|*KL Rahul (INDIA)||34||1138||146.46|
Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan has been the star of the format. He is accurate, has good variations and those qualities have helped him make the most of the aggressive stance that batsman adopt in T20 cricket. His average and his economy are splendid. Lasith Malinga has shown himself to be the enduring master in the format. His mix of slower balls and yorkers has earned him a reputation and he continues to trudge along.
Top bowlers of the decade (by wickets)
|Rashid Khan (AFG/ICC)||45||84||12.52||6.15||12.2|
|SL Malinga (SL)||59||82||19.03||7.15||15.9|
|Shakib Al Hasan (BDESH)||65||79||20.67||6.83||18.1|
|GH Dockrell (IRE)||73||75||20.52||6.95||17.7|
|Mohammad Nabi (AFG)||75||69||26.65||7.16||22.3|
|Saeed Ajmal (PAK)||53||66||19.30||6.51||17.7|
|TG Southee (NZ)||57||64||25.67||8.31||18.5|
|Imran Tahir (SA/World)||38||63||15.04||6.73||13.4|
|Shahid Afridi (ICC/PAK)||73||61||29.81||6.96||25.7|
|KMDN Kulasekara (SL)||49||60||20.16||7.10||17.0|
India’s best current bowler in T20 cricket is Jasprit Bumrah and it is perhaps only a matter of time before he becomes the leading wicket-taker too. He currently trails R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal (52 wickets each) by one wicket. Kuldeep Yadav had a great start to his career but his form and confidence has started to taper off.
But the best bowler in the format in the past decade, if one goes by economy rate, is Yuvraj Singh.
India T20 ER rate
With the T20 World Cup coming up in the second half of 2020, it will interesting to see whether the fearless West Indies manage to somehow throw the consistency arguments out of the window again or whether India manage to make the most of their consistency.
Australia, with its bigger grounds, might call for a very different set of tactics from India or the West Indies and one might reckon that teams with better seam bowlers might hold the advantage there. But given that this is T20 cricket, who knows?