To celebrate 1,000 Twenty/20 internationals, ESPN Cricinfo re-released their June 2018 list of their “All-time T20 XI”, based on performances from 2010-2017, making it fully 2 years out of date! Should it be updated or is this list still correct today?
Now let’s do some analysis of the actual best players:
2,452 runs – Rohit Sharma
2,450 runs – Virat Kohli
2,359 runs – Martin Guptill*
2,263 runs – Shoaib Malik*
2,140 runs – Brendon McCullum
2,011 runs – David Warner*
Only 3 of the top 6 highest run-scorers of all-time were listed. Mind you, this list is 2 years out of date, and, as at when it was written, Brendon McCullum was the number 1, so perhaps that’s why.
Now let’s look at highest averages of the players with at least 1,000 Twenty/20 international runs:
Best averages (min 1,000 runs):
51.88 – Babar Azam*
50.00 – Virat Kohli
38.68 – JP Duminy*
37.68 – Aaron Finch*
37.60 – MS Dhoni
35.66 – Brendon McCullum
Once again, 3 out of 6 are in there, though they are worryingly missing out on the one with the highest average.
Now let’s look at the third factor with batting: strike rate.
Best strike rates (min 1,000 runs and average of 30):
160.00 – Glenn Maxwell*
159.09 – Colin Munro*
157.30 – Aaron Finch*
142.84 – Chris Gayle
140.62 – David Warner*
136.65 – Alex Hales*
It looks like Chris Gayle was there primarily for his strike rate, and it looks like we are somewhat out of date with how good his strike rate is. Even Shahid Afridi, with a strike rate of 150.00 at a terrible average of 17.92, is outmatched by 3 big hitters with averages of over 30.
Now let’s look at wicket keepers.
Most wicket keeping dismissals:
91 – MS Dhoni
60 – Kamran Akmal*
58 – Denesh Ramdin*
Dhoni is easily winning. But what about his dismissals per innings rate?
Highest dismissals per innings rate (minimum 30 dismissals):
1.243 – Quinton de Kock*
1.132 – Kamran Akmal*
0.938 – MS Dhoni
Dhoni is at least 3rd on the highest dismissals per innings rate, is highest with total dismissals, and he has a great batting record, so he probably deserves his spot.
Let’s look at bowling:
Highest wicket takers:
106 – Lasith Malinga
98 – Shahid Afridi
92 – Shakib al Hasan*
85 – Umar Gul
85 – Saeed Ajmal*
81 – Rashid Khan
Yay! 4 of the highest wicket-takers are in our team! We’ve done well!
Best bowling averages (minimum 50 wickets):
12.03 – Rashid Khan
14.42 – Ajantha Mendis*
15.04 – Imran Tahir*
16.84 – Graeme Swann*
16.97 – Umar Gul
17.37 – Roelof van der Merwe*
Granted that van der Merwe was mostly playing against lesser teams, Ajantha Mendis was only good for a short period of time and even Rashid Khan had a lot of wickets against low-level teams, but it’s still not terrible. But do we want so many spinners? Let’s look at fast bowlers:
Best bowling averages for fast bowlers (minimum 30 wickets):
16.97 – Umar Gul
17.50 – Dale Steyn*
17.94 – Mitchell Starc*
19.00 – Mustafazir Rahman*
19.44 – Lasith Malinga
Much as I like Malinga, he’s down in 5th spot for averages, and perhaps he shouldn’t be there, not when you consider the quality supporting the averages of Steyn and Starc.
Now let’s look at all-rounders:
Biggest gap between batting and bowling averages (min 1,000 runs and 30 wickets):
+4.52 (29.24 – 24.72) Shane Watson*
+3.16 (23.74 – 20.58) Shakib al Hasan*
+1.76 (24.46 – 22.70) Mohammad Hafeez*
-2.87 (23.05 – 25.92) Mohammad Nabi*
-3.77 (24.00 – 27.77) Mahmudullah*
-3.97 (24.29 – 28.26) Dwayne Bravo
-6.52 (17.92 – 24.44) Shahid Afridi
They really dropped the ball on this one. Bravo and Afridi aren’t even in the top 5 and there’s no way to justify either of them. While we don’t necessarily have to pick both Watson and Shakib, we probably should pick at least one of them. Given how often Hafeez has been banned for illegal bowling actions, I don’t think we can safely pick him.
So now let’s pick our team:
1. Rohit Sharma
2. Aaron Finch
I am happy to keep Rohit Sharma, but there’s no way that Chris Gayle gets there now. This is probably because of how out of date Cricinfo’s list was. Aaron Finch has had a stellar last 2 years and has well and truly leapfrogged Gayle on the all-time list.
All-rounders (3 and 6):
3. Shane Watson
6. Shakib al Hasan
There is no way to justify either Dwayne Bravo or Shahid Afridi in this list, and picking the two best all-rounders ever to play was easy. I decided to push Shane Watson up to 3 so he can do some damage early. Shakib will bat down at number 6, for some power down the order.
Middle order (4-5):
4. Virat Kohli
5. Glenn Maxwell
Virat Kohli is an obvious pick at number 4. A B de Villiers was just a poor pick all-round. I am putting in a big-hitter at number 5, the biggest of the big-hitters in Glenn Maxwell, who just squeezes out Brendon McCullum and Babar Azam.
Wicket keeper (7):
7. MS Dhoni
While he was only 3rd on the list of most dismissals per innings, he has easily the most dismissals overall, with a very good batting record that makes up for his slight deficiencies in wicket keeping. And, who knows, perhaps if the others with better DPI ratings may have seen theirs drop down if they kept as much as Dhoni did.
Spin bowler (8):
8. Rashid Khan
While he has the advantage of playing mostly against weak teams, he has proven time and again that he can bowl well against better teams as well.
Pace bowlers (9-11):
9. Umar Gul
10. Dale Steyn
11. Mitchell Starc
It was tough to leave out Malinga but his average doesn’t stack up, not quite.
Changes from Cricinfo’s list:
OUT: Chris Gayle, A B de Villiers, Brendon McCullum, Shahid Afridi, Dwayne Bravo, Lasith Malinga
IN: Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, Shakib al Hasan, Dale Steyn, Mitchell Starc
SAME: Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Rashid Khan, Umar Gul
- Aaron Finch (Australia)
- Rohit Sharma (India)
- Shane Watson (Australia)
- Virat Kohli (India)
- Glenn Maxwell (Australia)
- MS Dhoni (India)
- Shakib al Hasan (Bangladesh)
- Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
- Mitchell Starc (Australia)
- Dale Steyn (South Africa)
- Umar Gul (Pakistan)