Have you ever wondered to yourself, “What would the best current day twenty20 International playing XI look like?”. Wonder no more, because here at FCN we’ve dived deep into the statistics and researched what players offer the most when it comes to the shortest form of cricket.
Fantasy cricket is slowly-expanding every year, and twenty20 cricket has only made it that much popular with the younger generation wanting to get involved and pick their favorite players from all over the world. There are those who don’t take fantasy to seriously, and those of us who have that competitive streak in us saying “we must win at all costs!” It can be both a fun & competitive hobby, but the masters are secretly making big dollars behind the scenes due to their excessive knowledge of the sport. This article will run you through the must-haves when it comes to T20 International games being played around the world, these guys are the absolute elite amongst their companions. Some have that X factor, whereas some just perform at such a high consistency they’re hard to ignore. So, sit back, relax and get ready to read about some of the games most prolific fantasy scorers!
1. Martin Guptill (New Zealand) playing role – opening batsman
This man is an absolute freak of nature when he gets his eye in, extremely hard to contain when he’s clearing the fence as often as he does. Martin Guptill is your ultimate fantasy selection, the only criticism is he’s one of those hit-and-miss players. When he’s hot, he’s blistering but when he’s cold, he’s walking back to the sheds early. You’ll find that the 31-year-old is a familiar face for the Black Caps in International cricket across all three formats, but he appears in T20 competitions all around the world. Guptill’s such a destructive opening batsman against the new ball, and this format is what he thrives on by the looks of it. Averaging 34.40 in T20I cricket, expect that stat to rise if he produces anything likes his tri-series efforts at home against England and Australia just recently.
2. Colin Munro (New Zealand) playing role – middle order/opening batsman
It’s a Kiwi opening combination in the batting department! Proving extremely hard to separate both Munro and West Indian dynamo Chris Gayle for this second opening position, It was Munro who has blown his competition out of the park over the past 14 months or so with his emphatic performances for the Black Caps. Some would say he’s almost as prolific as Martin Guptill when it comes to scoring quickly, even his statistics back up the argument that he could indeed be a similar prospect despite being 30-years of age. Munro has three T20I centuries to his name, two of those coming within three months of each other against India and the West Indies. Both Munro and Guptill are naturally aggressive batsmen, resulting in some amazing knocks along with the not so amazing, they are entertainers that’s for sure. The thing that jumps out at you on paper is his strike rate though, a whopping 163.59!
3. Babar Azam (Pakistan) playing role – top order batsman
When we speak of consistency in the game of cricket, Pakistan’s Babar Azam comes to mind straight away. The 23-year-old has made a phenomenal start to his International playing career for the men in green, averaging an impressive 51.11 in ODI cricket having played the 41 matches, and he’s also dominating the T20I stage with an average of 48.08. His risk taking is far more restrained compared to Kiwi batting duo Martin Guptill and Colin Munro, but it’s his batting finesse and classy stroke play that gets the job done for Azam. He plays a very-similar brand of cricket to India’s superstar batsman Virat Kohli, calm & composed at the crease until he decides to take calculated risks in his innings. Azam is more of a traditional batsman, electing to go along the ground instead of walloping the ball into the night sky, you can’t go wrong with this fantasy selection.
4. Virat Kohli (India) playing role – top order batsman
His prototype may feature above him on this list, but there is only one Virat Kohli in this lifetime. Kohli was tipped to be captain of India when he first broke onto the International stage at a very young age, now he’s become the countries most important player as well as their skipper. The 29-year-old had a huge amount of success in T20 International cricket spanning from 2012-2016 where he blasted back-to-back 80’s in the World T20 at home. Kohli is one of those rare breeds of players who has mastered all three-formats of the game, averaging 50+ in test, one-day and twenty20 cricket. His statistics tell the story of his career to date, just how successful this man has been. He’s one of the modern day masters of this generation, and he’s just about as reliable as Sir Donald Bradman was in the 20th century for Australia. You’d be crazy to go past a player like Virat Kohli in fantasy cricket, he’s a superstar.
5. Glenn Maxwell (Australia) playing role – all-rounder
I don’t think there’s a more controversial player than Glenn Maxwell in Australia, he’s almost in every newspaper you pick up when the Aussies are playing, even if he’s not in the team. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, but personally I feel the CA selectors have treated the 29-year-old all-rounder like a prisoner in his short-lived career so far. A man with plenty of potential but denied the opportunity to shine on the big stage in the past couple of years, Maxwell is still the same dynamic, freakishly skilled player we’ve all come to love. He’s a fantasy-must as well, creating run out opportunities in the field and taking plenty of catchers, Maxwell well and truly is the all-round cricketer Australia need. On top of that, Maxwell has scored two centuries for his country in T20I cricket including a cataclysmic 145 not out in Sri Lanka a couple years back.
6. Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh) playing role – all-rounder
When you think of the Bangladesh cricket team, you immediately get Shakib Al Hasan ringing alarm bells in your head. This is a man who bleeds red & green, the Tigers started out as the minnows of the ICC at first & have gradually fought their way up the standings. Shakib brings a wealth of experience to any team he represents, whether it’s the Knight Riders in the IPL or Bangladesh on the International scene. As he slowly ventures into that ‘veterans’ category, the 30-year-old still has plenty of good cricket ahead of him due to his effective-neat & tidy bowling spells, and his handy capabilities with the bat when required. In fact, Shakib is still ranked in the top three ICC T20 International all-rounders in the world which definitely consolidates his spot in this list. What puts him in this elite category in terms of fantasy you ask? He features in just about every T20 franchise across the world, and he’s a proven performer.
7. Jos Buttler (England) playing role – wicketkeeper-batsman
It’s easy to say that wicketkeeper-batsmen who open the innings are probably the most likely-candidates for fantasy selection because they’re guaranteed runs, but with so many aggressive specialist batsmen being produced these days, Jos Buttler is one who has adapted batting down the order & does it to great effect. Buttler is viewed as a one-day specialist, but he still plays a key role in England’s middle order when it comes to T20 cricket. The one thing that isn’t guaranteed like in ODI cricket is that he’ll almost-certainly be required with the willow, but his finishing skills late in an innings can rack up some quick runs in no time. Although there are plenty of other options out there, opening wicket-keeper batsmen can be knocked over extremely early which just about puts a fantasy player out of the game, Buttler on the other hand is a great accumulator of runs and can turn a game on it’s head very quickly.
8. Mitchell Starc (Australia) playing role – fast bowler
Who could go past Mitchell Starc when it comes to any format of the game? What makes this man so damaging is those zippy, toe-crushing yorkers that just about signal the end of an innings for a batsmen if executed well. Originally breaking into the International side through one-day cricket, Starc has now become Australia’s most dominant red-ball bowler in the test arena as well. In saying that, his heart will always be in the shorter format of the game, it’s less stress on his body and he’s got plenty of energy to send down his fastest deliveries which every fast bowler enjoys doing. Having played little T20I cricket, Starc has still been prolific in franchise leagues around the world & still given opposition batsmen a fright when representing the green & gold. Classified as a bowler, Starc is certainly no mug with the bat when he gets his opportunity, but in this format bowlers aren’t as required in that area.
9. Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) playing role – leg-spin bowler
Words can’t describe how talented this teenager is, at just 19-years of age Rashid Khan has featured in huge franchise leagues such as the IPL, BBL, BPL, CPL & PSL. Who would’ve though someone from Afghanistan would have become as big as this? every country just can’t get enough of him, and it’s easy to see why. Khan has that cheeky smirk on his face when he bowls a good delivery and the batsman is left stunned, he’s got a huge back of tricks which is partly why he’s been so successful in these past couple of years. Honestly, he could just be the best leg-spin bowler since the great Shane Warne was spinning webs around the continent, if you haven’t seen this young man bowl, do yourselves a favor and check out some of his work on youtube. His T20I record is already promising, taking 47 wickets from just 29 matches and striking at 14.0.
10. Hasan Ali (Pakistan) playing role – medium-fast bowler
This was a difficult decision to pick from, both Jasprit Bumrah and Hasan Ali are basically two bowlers who have been getting the job done lately in this format, so it was basically a flip of the coin. In all seriousness, Hasan Ali has improved out of sight since debuting & has developed into one of Pakistan’s best seam bowlers in both one-day and T20 cricket. It’s still early days in his T20 International career, but he’s shown signs in one-day cricket that he can bring teams to their feet when he gets that white ball to talk. Ali’s five-wicket haul conversion rate in ODI cricket for Pakistan is superb, he’s been able to raise the ball three times along with one four-wicket haul, that’s probably where he edged out India’s Jasprit Bumrah. I predict he will be one of the worlds biggest franchise bowlers in years to come, he has a knack of taking quality batsmen down.
11. Trent Boult (New Zealand) playing role – fast bowler
This was a no-brainer, Trent Boult is just as effective as Mitchell Starc with the new ball which has developed a fiery-rivalry when New Zealand clash with Australia. As well as being extremely accurate, Boult makes the ball move in the air & off the pitch which is just an added frustration for batsmen to overcome. His career T20I statistics look pretty solid, striking at 14.8 as you’d expect from one of the premiere fast bowlers in the world. Like Starc, Boult is also a star when it comes to one-day cricket and looks a lot more potent with the white ball in hand, so he’s carried on that mentality in T20 cricket for the Black Caps bowling alongside Tim Southee. There’s no going wrong with this selection in fantasy cricket, wickets are almost assured in every outing Boult features in and he’s also a pretty handy fielder when it comes to taking catches, degree of difficulty is the 28-year-old’s go.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.