The sixth edition of the tournament is being hosted by India, with games taking place between March 8th and April 3rd. The tournament features 16 teams with associate and affiliate members both looking to impress on the international stage.
The tournament is cricket’s epicentre of invention, big hitting and fast paced entertainment. The previous World Twenty20 tournament saw a huge amount of boundaries hit, including over 200 sixes. This intent to play attacking cricket with a focus on scoring quickly gives reason to why T20 cricket continues to entertain and simultaneously grow in popularity.
The ICC World Twenty20 will play host to a group of players that have entertained NatWest Blast and other tournament spectators over the years. Supporters in England and Wales will be looking forward to watching them in India next year and also hoping to see them closer to home next summer.
Fittingly Gayle sits at the top of the order. The West Indian holds the record for the most domestic Twenty20 centuries scored (16) and this includes the highest individual score ever made in this format of the game (175* from 66 balls). With a World T20 century to his name, Gayle has also hit more sixes in club Twenty20 than any other player (598 in 222 innings). This ability to consistently clear the rope has helped him amass over 8000 domestic T20 runs, which is nearly 2000 more than anyone else.
When Gayle signed to play for Somerset in 2015 many predicted that he would take full advantage of Taunton’s typically flat wicket and relatively small boundaries. Few would have guessed that he would actually finish his stint with an average of 328, including a high score of 151*. If Gayle can stay fit and replicate some of his best form shown mainly for IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore, West Indies will fancy themselves to go far in this competition.
McCullum will captain the New Zealand side and look to continue the form he has frequently shown in this format throughout the different competitions and countries he has played in. McCullum is the all-time leading run scorer in International T20 Cricket, with 2140 runs at a strike rate of 136, and he also tops the leaderboard for most sixes hit on the international T20 stage (91).
The New Zealander played for Birmingham Bears in 2015 (hitting 270 runs at an average of 45) and he has previously featured for Glamorgan and Sussex too. McCullum was part of a Birmingham Bears team that reached Finals Day and he has had similar success in the IPL with both Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings. His time in the Indian tournament has seen him score over 2000 runs including two centuries and 90 sixes. His big hitting will be sure to pose a threat to bowler’s figures and anyone not paying attention in the crowd.
Maxwell is an innovative Australian batsman who played for Yorkshire in the 2015 NatWest Blast and is renowned for his aggressive and inventive batting style. The best example of this could be seen when he nonchalantly reverse swept the first ball of a Yorkshire T20 game for six. Maxwell has got himself out playing unorthodox shots but he is confident in his ability and understands the big reward that can come from a fearless approach.
Maxwell’s reluctance to care for milestones means that he is constantly in sixth gear and this has assisted him to a domestic T20 strike rate of 155 (the fifth highest of any batsmen currently playing). There is something quite brilliant and exciting about watching a batsman that backs themselves to hit every ball to the fence and many are looking forward to seeing how this ultra positive approach works out at the World T20.
Buttler belongs to an exciting England squad full of potential and his invention and improvisation at the crease has made him extremely popular amongst cricket fans and aspiring batsman alike. Like AB De Villiers, Buttler’s ability to hit the ball anywhere creates a nightmare for opposing captains and his typically quick scoring has seen him acquire the three fastest England ODI hundreds.
The wicket-keeper batsman did not regularly feature in this year’s NatWest Blast due to England duties, but when given the chance he launched Lancashire Lightning into finals day with a destructive 71* (35) against Roses rivals Yorkshire. Hales, Morgan, Stokes, Billings and Willey will most likely join Buttler in the England squad for the World Twenty20 and it will be interesting to see whether this group of talented and destructive batsmen can reproduce their form shown in previous years of the NatWest T20 Blast.
Boom Boom Afridi. There is rarely a dull moment when the Pakistan captain is at the crease, a characteristic shared by all of the world’s most entertaining batsmen. The Pakistani has created a sense of unity amongst fans in that most love to see his aggressive style of hitting that can change a game in the space of a few overs. It is Afridi’s lack of respect shown to bowlers that makes him so interesting to watch, yet often infuriating to support.
Afridi has played for Northants Steelbacks in the recent T20 Blast, but has also been capped for Leicestershire and Hampshire. The slow pitches of India should be suited to his bold approach to batting which is guaranteed to be nothing short of entertaining.
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