Our definitive T20 team of the year
Two Aussies and some BBL stars feature in our best T20 side from 2016, based on both domestic and international stats
28 December 2016, 11:02 AM AEST
1. David Warner
Matches: 27 | Runs: 1086 | Batting average: 45.25 | Strike-rate: 150.41 | Top score: 93*
Teams: Australia, Sunrisers Hyderabad
While he has successfully adapted his damaging approach from T20 cricket to the Test arena, Warner remains one of the most destructive players in the format he first made his name in. He was admittedly below his best at the ICC World T20 in March, managing just 38 runs from four hits. But his blazing Indian Premier League campaign for Sunrisers Hyderabad, where he struck 848 runs at a strike-rate in excess of 150, wins him a spot at the top of our order. Warner was instrumental at the business end of the IPL, belting a 58-ball 93 in the preliminary-final, then a 38-ball 69 in the tournament-decider against a star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore outfit to power the Sunrisers to their maiden IPL title.
2. Jason Roy
Matches: 25 | Runs: 812 | Batting average: 33.83 | Strike rate: 154.37 | Top score: 120*
Teams: England, England XI, Surrey, Sydney Sixers
The Durban-born Englishman just edges out South Africa star Hashim Amla (890 runs at 40.45 in 2016), due to his superior strike-rate (153.29 to Amla’s 133.43) and his two centuries to Amla’s none. A key fixture in England’s unanticipated run in the WT20, Roy blasted 78 off 44 balls in their semi-final run-chase against New Zealand to help seal a berth in the final. The right-hander crunched two blistering tons for Surrey in England’s domestic T20 tournament later in the year and on both occasions, he outshone Surrey’s better-credentialed overseas players. In the first, he outdid Kumar Sangakkara, smashing a 67-ball 109 against Sussex in June, before doing the same to the Sri Lankan’s replacement Aaron Finch with his second ton, a 62-ball 120 against Kent in July. And he made a spectacular start to his KFC Big Bash League stint with the Sydney Sixers, reeling in a stunning catch at backward point in the tournament opener.
3. Virat Kohli (c)
Matches: 31 | Runs: 1614 | Batting average: 89.66 | Strike-rate: 147.12 | Top score: 113
Teams: India, Royal Challengers Bangalore
India' Test captain confirmed his status as cricket’s most effective batsman across all three formats with the most prolific run-scoring spree by a batsman in T20’s short history. Sure, West Indian master-blaster Chris Gayle has scored over 1,000 runs in each of the last six calendar years, but he’s never come close to matching Kohli’s frightening consistency in a version of the game that so often demands self-sacrifice. The batting maestro began his year in style, passing 50 in each of his three hits during India’s three-match series against Australia in January. He repeated the dose with a stunning unbeaten 82 to send Steve Smith’s men out of the WT20 at the group stage of the tournament. A remarkable IPL campaign for RCB followed, in which he racked up nearly 1000 runs at 81.08. When you throw into the mix his 739 one-day international runs at 92.37 and his 1215 Test runs at 75.93 in 2016, Kohli’s year arguably seals his status as the most versatile batsman the game has seen.
4. AB de Villiers
Batting stats: Matches: 30 | Runs: 1122 | Batting average: 46.75 | Strike-rate: 166.96 | Top score: 129*
Teams: South Africa, Barbados Tridents, Royal Challengers Bangalore
While he may have been eclipsed by RCB teammate Kohli as the most feared T20 player on the planet, AB de Villiers certainly didn’t become any less imposing in 2016. He passed 50 just once in the Proteas’ disappointing WT20 campaign but saved his best for another devastating IPL stint. Only Kohli and Warner eclipsed his 687 runs but his sky-high strike-rate of 168.97 for the tournament was the highest among the top 25 run-scorers. De Villiers’ record-breaking 52-ball 129 against Gujarat saw him and Kohli put on 229 for the second wicket, the highest partnership in T20 history. A short spell in the Caribbean Premier League for the Barbados Tridents also saw de Villiers add 234 more runs (at 58.50) to his 2016 tally.
5. Andre Russell
Matches: 58 | Runs: 1025 | Batting average: 24.40 | Strike rate: 160.15 | Top score: 100
Wickets: 76 | Bowling average: 19.93 | Economy rate: 7.98 | Best-bowling: 4/20
Teams: West Indies, Sydney Thunder, Kolkata Knight Riders, Nottinghamshire, Jamaica Tallawahs, Islamabad United, Dhaka Dynamites
You probably couldn’t construct a more perfect all-round T20 package than Andre Russell; he hits it miles, bowls rapid plus he’s a dynamic presence in the field with a happy knack for a classic catch. And he didn’t disappoint in 2016 for no less than seven different teams. The Jamaican took the KFC Big Bash League by storm last summer, his efforts with bat and ball helping Sydney Thunder to their maiden title. It’s no coincidence he played in five different domestic championship-winning sides in just over eight months; Russell won the Bangladesh Premier League, the BBL, the Pakistan Super League, the WT20 and the CPL (where he belted a 42-ball ton) all in the space of just over eight months. He’s back for the Thunder this summer and while he’s made a slow start, don’t expect Russell to stay quiet for long.
6. Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper)
Matches: 31 | Runs: 816 | Average: 37.09 | Strike-rate: 155.42 | Top score: 73*| Dismissals: 14
Teams: England, England XI, Lancashire, Mumbai Indians
An inventive wicketkeeper-batsman, Buttler was another key member of England’s WT20 run earlier this year. He remained in India for his maiden IPL campaign, where his value as one of the world’s most highly-rated finishers was confirmed after becoming the most expensive English player in the 2016 tournament. Ricky Ponting’s Mumbai Indians purchased him for $766,850 (AUD), well in excess of Kevin Pietersen’s $606,940 (AUD). Buttler was also instrumental for Lancashire in 2016 as he battled to win his Test spot back in county cricket. His ability to produce consistently in the game’s shortest format – he posted single-digit scores just seven times in his 33 innings this year – sees him take the slot into the ‘keeping spot in our T20 team of the year.
7. Farhaan Behardien
Matches: 22 | Runs: 481 | Average: 53.44 | Strike rate: 165.86 | Top score: 72*
Teams: South Africa, South Africa A, Kings XI Punjab, Leicestershire, Titans
Behardien’s selection in this side may come as a surprise to some but a close look at his efforts in England and South Africa domestic tournaments in the second half of 2016 reveal his presence among some of the better performers with the bat this year. The freakish Kohli aside, the Proteas allrounder is the only other player to average over 50 with the bat in T20s in 2016 (minimum 20 matches). His 481 runs over the past 12 months came at a strike-rate of 165.86 and he was unbeaten in six of his 19 knocks. But Behardien’s crowning moment came earlier this month, where he pummelled the fastest half-century in South Africa’s T20 history (domestic or international); a whirlwind 14-ball effort for Titans in the country’s domestic tournament. The 33-year-old became just one of nine players to have struck a T20 half-century in 14 balls or fewer with the knock. A handy medium-pacer to boot, Behardien provides a useful back-up bowling option in this side.
8. Shahid Afridi
Matches: 45 | Runs: 553 | Batting average: 16.26 | Strike rate: 161.22 | Top score: 49
Wickets: 46 | Bowling average: 23.56 | Economy rate: 6.56 | Best bowling: 5-7
Teams: Pakistan, Hampshire, Islamabad, Peshawar Zalmi, Rangpur Riders
One of the most difficult batsmen to contain on his day, it’s Afridi’s work with the ball this year rather than the bat that sees him included in the No.8 slot. The crafty wrist-spinner was at his miserly best in 2016 with pill in hand, despite the ‘will-he, won’t he?’ saga of his retirement that overshadowed Pakistan’s ordinary WT20 effort. A career-best 5-7 for the Peshawar Zalmi in the Pakistan Super League was the highlight of the allrounder’s year and while his stint for Hampshire didn’t deliver bags of wickets, English batsmen struggled to get his flat leggies away. He carried his good form into the Bangladesh Premier League, snaring 17 wickets. Among the top 10 leading T20 wicket takers in 2016, Afridi’s economy rate is the best.
9. Jasprit Bumrah
Matches: 44 | Wickets: 57 | Bowling average: 20.15 | Economy rate: 6.91 | Best-bowling: 3-10
Teams: India, Mumbai Indians, Gujarat
A right-arm quick with an unusual action, Bumrah has stormed onto the T20 scene in 2016. At just 22, he made his international debut against Australia in January and top-class batsmen have battled to get in sync with the awkward fast bowler. In August, he broke former Australia and the Netherlands paceman Dirk Nannes’ benchmark for the most T20 International wickets in a calendar year when he snagged his 28th T20I victim in India’s series against West Indies in Florida. A stellar IPL campaign for Mumbai prompted coach Ponting to label him ready for Test cricket but a call-up to India’s red-ball side hasn’t been forthcoming. Only Russell (73 wickets in 56 games) and Dwayne Bravo (85 wickets in 70 games) have more wickets than him in 2016, though Bumrah’s 57 scalps have come in considerably fewer matches (44) than the West Indian pair.
10. Adam Zampa
Matches: 33 | Wickets: 46 | Bowling average: 16.89 | Economy rate: 6.80 | Best-bowling: 6-19
Teams: Australia, Melbourne Stars, Rising Pune Supergiants, Guyana Amazon Warriors
It’s been a breakout year for the Australian tweaker and his T20 form sees Zampa selected alongside Afridi in a two-pronged leg-spin attack. The 24-year-old leads all-comers on the ODI wicket-taking charts in 2016 and his T20 form has been similarly superb. His 46 wickets is the sixth-highest tally in T20s over the past 12 months, and his average of 16.00 is the lowest among all bowlers with more than 30 wickets. Strong performances at his new club Melbourne Stars in BBL|05 saw him win an IPL contract earlier this year, becoming one of the few specialist slow-bowlers from Down Under to make an appearance in the lucrative tournament. He was one of the few shining lights in Australia’s WT20 campaign and he also made a successful stint in the Caribbean Premier League.
11. Mustafizur Rahman
Matches: 26 | Wickets: 37| Bowling average: 18.10 | Economy rate: 6.68 | Best-bowling: 5-22
Teams: Bangladesh, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Sussex
Described by his IPL captain Warner as a “special talent” and by fellow Sunriser Moises Henriques “a little genius”, Mustafizur’s numbers in 2016 speak for themselves. The Bangladeshi left-armer was struck down a shoulder injury in July but prior to the blow, his tremendous WT20 and IPL efforts had the world’s best raving about his talents. Relatively unknown prior to those two tournaments, the then 20-year-old wowed with his array of slower balls, lively pace and searing yorkers. The prodigy remained on the sidelines at the end of 2016 but with bowling averages in all three international formats below 15 (from two Tests, nine ODIs and 13 T20Is), Mustafizur walks into this team and looms as a tantalising prospect for the future, particularly in white-ball cricket.