It is usually that time of the year when cricket writers and fans around the world are involved, one way or another, in breathless coverage of the Indian Premier League. The 13th edition of the tournament, however, is currently indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak that has brought sporting events around the world to a screeching halt.
Given the lack of cricketing action, an interesting idea came up: what about an IPL-style team-building exercise for the top 10 international teams? Only, this will be no glitzy auction with crores of real money involved. But a more restrained drafting process. The final product? Potentially, a world class T20 side with seven “local” players and four stars picked from drafts.
On that note, cricket writers participated in building an international T20 side with seven players from one country retained before the draft and the remaining slots in the side picked by four picks from an NBA-type draft.
The rules are simple:
Those assigned a particular team have to pick (“retain”) seven players that have played T20I cricket in the last two years (since the start of 2018). In the draft, that follows, the player selection will start off with the lowest-ranked T20I side and progress upwards in the first round and follow the reverse order in the second round, and so on (snake draft, as it is referred to). At the end of four rounds of drafting, the final round will be used to pick a 12th member in the side.
Available for selection in the draft is anyone and everyone who has played T20 cricket (franchise and international) in the last two years. And the teams will be selected with the basic assumption that they will be playing in Australia (the venue for the 2020 T20 World Cup, for now at least).
(In the second part, you can read who the 10 teams picked in the draft to complete their sides.)
With this in mind, in the first part of this exercise we look at which of the seven players have been retained by various countries. Will Rishabh Pant get picked by India? Which of the England and West Indies superstars won’t find their names in the shortlist and instead be entering the open draft?
Retentions: IND, ENG, AUS, PAK
|Rohit Sharma||Jofra Archer||David Warner||Babar Azam|
|KL Rahul||Jos Buttler*||Aaron Finch||Shoaib Malik|
|Virat Kohli||Johnny Bairstow||Glen Maxwell||Shadab Khan|
|Rishabh Pant *||Moeen Ali||Mitchell Starc||Imad Wasim|
|Hardik Pandya||Eoin Morgan||Pat Cummins||Wahab Riaz|
|Ravindra Jadeja||Ben Stokes||Steve Smith||Mohd Amir|
|Jasprit Bumrah||Adil Rashid||Alex Carey *||Shaheen Afridi|
It is Pakistan’s bowling and Azam that makes them the No 1 T20I side. Naturally then, Azam would slot in as opener and we’d find his partner in the rounds of the draft.
As for the bowling, picking from the wide selection of Pakistan pacers available was a tough choice, albeit a good problem to have.
Shaheen’s exquisite form for Pakistan and in PSL meant he was the first pacer on the team sheet. Amir followed, considering his low economy rate, change up deliveries, and the fact that he has the most wickets for Pakistan amongst his colleagues since his return.
We decided to go with just three pacers, leaving room for some big hitting in the lower middle order. The choice was between the new kid on the block, Muhammad Hasnain and Riaz. Hasnain was the top wicket-taker in PSL, no small feat considering the high quality of colleagues he was competing against. But it was Riaz’s league T20 economy of 7.15 and almost 300 wickets that caught the eye – experience, economy, and pace.
Next step, the magic every successful T20 side needs: a leg spinner. There was only one obvious Pakistani choice in Shadab. We figured he’d be a handy batsman in the middle order as well.
To complete the bowling attack and add more impetus to the middle order we added Wasim to the side; on the right track he would be an opening bowling option and can hit a gorgeous straight six.
With one retention slot left, we flipped through Iftikhar Ahmed or Asif Ali, both batsmen that have decent strike rates, Asif boasting a variety of league experience. But of course no Pakistan side is really complete without a player from the 90s, so we retained Malik.
I have decided to stack up the batting order for Australia. With Warner and Finch, there is an attacking opening combination who have the potent mix of high runs-per-innings and strike rate.
Smith anchors this batting line up, and is a fail safe for tough pitches.
Maxwell and Carey are aggressors in the middle overs, both scoring at more than 8.5 runs per over from between overs 11-15 and then scoring at more than 10 runs per over in the death. So they provide some much-needed injection in the back end of the innings.
Cummins and Starc are good T20 bowlers to have plus they can bat a bit. Cummins can open the bowling and control the middle overs, while Starc could be handy with the new ball and a tough proposition for batsmen to face in the death overs.
England have four guaranteed retentions: Archer — one of the world’s best quicks, Buttler and Bairstow — two of the world’s best batsmen, and Ali — one of a very select group of genuine all rounders capable of competing for a spot in teams due to either his batting or bowling. These four form the spine of my team.
Stokes’ T20 record is not as good as people may at first think but used in the right way he is an asset and his status as an all rounder helps with my flexibility. Morgan’s T20 game has made massive strides in the last 12 months and he can slot into the precious and difficult finisher role and captain the side.
I was very tempted to take Alex Hales who (in cricketing terms) deserves a spot in England’s team and is among one of the world’s best T20 batsmen. However, if I took Hales I would have filled spots one to seven in my team which would have restricted my ability to draft any high quality batsmen if they were released by rival teams.
Leaving Hales also enables me to take Rashid with my final pick. Having quality wrist spinners is so important for a T20 side and Rashid is an excellent option. The chance of a better wrist spinner being available come the draft is highly unlikely.
The first four retentions are as obvious as stars on a clear night sky. Kohli is the world’s best all-format batsman, Rahul at the top of the order provides the fireworks while Rohit offers the consistency. And despite his struggles since the injury comeback, even an out-of-sorts Bumrah is among the best in the world.
For the remaining slots, I am banking on Hardik to keep his batting form from IPL 2019. That sort of hitting warrants his selection as a pure batsman even if he is unable to bowl consistently. As for Pant, for all the frustration he brings, I would hate to see him picked by someone else. Simple as that.
The spinner slot is interesting with four options, but I have gone with the all-round skills of Jadeja over Yuzvendra Chahal or Kuldeep Yadav’s wrist spin (both of which have not been firing as well as one would expect) and R Ashwin’s variety. It’s a risk, but I am banking on finding a good wrist-spinner in the drafts.
And, of course, all this meant I had to leave MS Dhoni out. Perhaps at a different time, that would have been blasphemous.
Retentions: AFG, NZ, SA
|Afghanistan||New Zealand||South Africa|
|Rashid Khan||Colin Munro||Quinton De Kock|
|Mujeeb Ur Rahman||Colin De Grandhomme||Imrna Tahir|
|Mohamad Nabi||Ross Taylor||Henrich Klassen *|
|Naveen Ul Haq||Lockie Ferguson||Tabriz Shamsi|
|Rahmanullah Gurbaz||Mitch Santner||Lungi Ngidi|
|Najibullah Zadran||Trent Boult||Chris Morris|
|Mohamad Shahzad *||Kane Williamson||Dale Steyn|
De Kock, Klaasen and Tahir were first choice picks. The only batsman outside de Kock and Klaasen I even thought about is Faf du Plessis, but the SA bowling outweighs SA’s batting in T20s by a large distance.
I had to make some tough choices in the bowling department. SA haven’t really played Shamsi and Tahir together and I think both are gun T20 bowlers; wicket-takers who don’t leak too many runs.
Ngidi, Steyn and Morris over Kagiso Rabada were the tough choices. Morris for his death bowling and power hitting is a pretty automatic choice. Ngidi is primarily picked as a death overs bowler as I think his slower variations in the death are second to none. Rabada leaks far too many runs for my liking in this format and is perhaps a tad one-dimensional as a bowler in this format. Steyn is a rather underrated T20 bowler. He can be a handful in the powerplays and alongside Shamsi and Tahir in the middle overs.
(By Michael Wagener, a freelance writer and statistician from NZ. Twitter: @Mykuhl)
This was really hard. I decided to pick three batsmen on their ability at the start, middle and end; three bowlers with a similar criteria; and finally the player I thought would best complement them.
Munro is New Zealand’s best batsmen in T20s, and particularly in the power play. De Grandhomme has been the best in the middle overs and Ross Taylor has been the best at the death.
Ferguson and Santner have been New Zealand’s stand out T20 bowlers, and then Boult was just a hair ahead of Southee.
With no Southee or Latham there I felt I needed Williamson to round out the seven. He’s a good foil to Munro, and is also a potential bowling option.
(By Karthik Raj, a freelance cricket writer and keen follower of Afghanistan cricket. Twitter: @kartcric)
The selection of the globe-trotting trio of Rashid, Mujeeb and Nabi doesn’t really need an explanation. Each one of these three players have the ability to win matches on their own. And Rashid’s four overs are often considered as gold-dust for his captains.
While the limelight has rightfully been on the spinners, Naveen has provided some hope for Afghanistan with respect to pace bowling. The young seamer displayed enough confidence and ability to execute his skills in an impressive 2-1 series win over West Indies last year.
In the same series, Rahmanullah burst onto the scene with a cracking 79 in the third and final T20I. The opening batter could very well be one of the best T20 batters in a few years time if he converts his potential. To round off the team, the experienced duo of Najibullah and Shahzad add fire-power to the batting line-up.
The southpaw Najibullah has often made cricket fans wonder why Afghanistan underutilize his undoubted quality. And Shahzad is a guaranteed entertainer both on and off the field. Shahzad is one of Afghanistan’s two centurions in T20I cricket and will also double up as the team’s keeper.
Retentions: WI, BAN, SL
|West Indies||Bangladesh||Sri Lanka|
|Chris Gayle||Soumya Sarkar||Wanindu Hasaranga|
|Nicholas Pooran *||Liton Das||Lasith Malinga|
|Andre Russell||Tamim Iqbal||Kusal Perera|
|Keiron Pollard (c)||Mushfiqur Rahim *||Dasun Shanaka|
|Fabian Allen||Shakib Al Hasan||Avishka Fernando|
|Sunil Narine||Saifuddin||Angelo Mathews|
|Alzarri Joseph||Mustafizur Rahman||Niroshan Dickwella*|
(By Andrew Fidel Fernando, author of Upon a Sleepless Isle. Twitter: @afidelf)
Sri Lanka’s T20 resources are somewhat limited at present, which is partly why the team must play the qualifiers at the forthcoming T20 World Cup before they can play the tournament proper. But there is still quality here, and importantly, the potential to surprise.
Malinga was an easy first pick. He brings with him a wealth of experience, of course, but is also still an outstanding bowler at 36, having delivered the clinching over of the IPL in 2019, before taking four wickets in four balls against New Zealand, later in the year.
The only other Sri Lankan bowler I’ve chosen is legspinner Hasaranga, who in addition to having a well-disguised googly and a burgeoning reputation as a wicket-taker, also fields extremely well, and is capable of winning matches with the bat.
The remaining five local picks are mainly there for the batting. Fernando and Dickwella will open the batting. Kusal Perera will come in at No. 4, with Mathews and the clean-striking Shanaka to follow. Mathews is also capable of delivering cheap spells, particularly with the new ball, as he did through Sri Lanka’s World T20-winning campaign in 2014.
By Umid Kumar Dey, freelance cricket writer based out of Chittagong. Twitter: @TehSeriousJoker)
Opening the batting will be Sarkar and Das. Both of them are excellent strikers of the ball and can give their side a quick start in the powerplay overs. Tamim comes in at number three. The southpaw usually opens for the team but his ability to anchor the innings makes him a perfect player for the number three role.
Rahim and Shakib take the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, to give Bangladesh a strong middle-order. Saifuddin takes the number seven spot as he gives Bangladesh a unique option with his pace-bowling and batting prowess.
Finally, the last player picked for the draft is Mustafizur. The left-handed pacer might have lost some edge but he is still a consistent wicket-taker for the Tigers.
(By Karthikeya Manchala, Cricket enthusiast learning Data Science at UC, San Diego. Twitter: @Static_a357)
Russell, Pollard and Narine went into the team without saying. All three are contenders for a T20 dream team at the moment. Pooran is nearly there so it’d be daft not to have him.
There are few lower-order hitters with the range Allen has, so I wanted to lock down that finisher spot to push Russell up the order.
Bowling is obviously a weak link, so I wanted to lock in Joseph. It was a tough choice between Joseph and Sheldon Cottrell, but I went with potential upside at the death. That left me with Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer and Evin Lewis for one spot. Gayle’s experience and reputation went in his favor, especially having given youth the benefit of doubt so far.
It was disappointing to leave out Hetmyer and Lewis, but there’s already a world class batting lineup in the making and I’d think the supply of the world’s top order batsmen may just bail me out.
Would you have retained anyone different knowing the talent pool available in T20 cricket? What did you make of the retentions here? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or tweet to us at @thefield_in.