Freddie Wilde of CricViz selects the Wisden Cricket Monthly T20 team of the year based on performances in both domestic and international T20 matches.
While on the international stage, the World Cup was the focal point of the year’s white-ball action, 2019 was still a year packed full of mouthwatering T20 action. Domestically, Mumbai Indians became the first four-time winners of the Indian Premier League, Guyana Amazon Warriors won all 10 group stage games in the Caribbean Premier League while Essex won the T20 Blast for the first time after an epic Finals Day at Edgbaston.
Here is Wisden Cricket Monthly’s T20 team of the year:
1. David Warner (captain)
Strike rate 142
This was the year that Warner emerged from Chris Gayle’s shadow to rank alongside him as the greatest T20 opener of all time. He is the prototypical anchor – unlike Gayle he takes almost no time to get going and is as rapid between the wickets as he is destructive, marrying an absurd scoring rate with freakish consistency. After three failures in his first four knocks of the year, Warner reached double figures in all of his remaining 20 innings, passing 50 on 14 occasions and twice going on to three figures.
2. Babar Azam
Strike rate 140
There had been a suspicion that Babar didn’t score quickly enough to be considered one of the world’s elite batsmen in the shortest format but in a stunning 12 months he combined his trademark consistency – he finished as the leading run-scorer in the world – with a rapid strike rate. While Warner’s game is defined by power and quick running, Babar’s is shaped by placement and timing.
3. AB de Villiers
Stop what you're doing.
AB de Villiers has just hit a cricket ball out of the stadium without even looking at it.pic.twitter.com/ZnaA89wNYu
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) April 24, 2019
The great South African makes our team for the second consecutive year, despite having retired from internationals. He played in five different leagues this year and was utterly dominant in each: averaging 44 or more at a strike rate of at least 154 in all but the Pakistan Super League. It speaks volumes of de Villiers’ class that he is able to maintain such levels despite playing so sporadically.
4. Moeen Ali
Runs 623, average 42, strike rate 165
Wickets 18, economy rate 6.90, strike rate 18
In a year when Moeen’s Test career took a major downturn his T20 career did quite the opposite. Playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Cape Town Blitz and Worcestershire, Moeen’s elegant brutality with the bat – particularly against spin and in the middle overs – was enough to get him in this team alone. His off-spin, most useful in the powerplay, was also superb.
5. Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper)
Runs 528, average 30, strike rate 142
Last year Pant was a shoo-in as wicketkeeper and while he couldn’t match the heights of 2018 he still finds a place in this side, thanks as much to the shortage of alternatives – Quinton de Kock, Jonny Bairstow and Nicholas Pooran were possible challengers – as his own form. That said, this was still an excellent year for a player who has only just turned 23, the highlight being a ridiculous 78* off 27 balls in the opening match of the IPL season.
6. Glenn Maxwell
Just Glenn Maxwell casually hitting a wide yorker over point for six.pic.twitter.com/YbOLmPqv0z
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) December 27, 2019
Runs 812, average 30, strike rate 158
Wickets 8, economy rate 7.14, strike rate 31
Perhaps a surprising pick given Maxwell opted out of the IPL this year but when he played for Melbourne Stars, Lancashire or Australia, he was superb. In this team Maxwell can float up and down the order, splitting up the two left-handers above him if required. Only de Villiers and Russell scored more runs than Maxwell this year at a higher strike rate. His off-spin provides the team with another bowling option.
7. Andre Russell
Runs 958, average 37, strikes rate 183
Wickets 32, economy rate 8.71, strike rate 19
Russell’s IPL – where he razed 510 runs at a strike rate of 204 – was a seminal moment in the history of T20 batting. Only once before has a player scored more than 500 runs in a T20 tournament at a rate of more than two per ball – Alex Hales in the 2017 T20 Blast. On the bigger stage of the IPL, where the standard is higher, Russell’s performance was mind-warping. By opening up the hitting arc to include cover-point, Russell’s range made him near-impossible to stop.
8. Deepak Chahar
Economy rate 6.83
Strike rate 14
A breakthrough year for the Indian new-ball bowler. Chahar emerged as a powerplay specialist for Chennai Super Kings, often bowling four consecutive overs at the start of the innings. No bowler in the world took more wickets in the first six overs than his 26 or bowled a higher proportion of powerplay overs. The 27-year-old combined superb control of line and length with subtle movement through the air and off the pitch, proving both frugal and threatening. By the end of the year Chahar was thriving at the death as well, although in this team he would largely be used in the powerplay. He is also a useful lower order batsman.
9. Rashid Khan
The seated sweep shot by Rashid Khan.pic.twitter.com/v8lxbtzZrb
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) December 31, 2019
Economy rate 6.79
Strike rate 20
The third of our trio who retained their place from last year, Rashid was not quite as dominant in 2019 and he only narrowly snuck in ahead of Imran Tahir and Sandeep Lamichhane, who both took more wickets at a lower average. However, Rashid’s flexibility in being able to bowl in all three phases of the innings edged selection his way.
10. Jasprit Bumrah
Economy rate 6.53
Strike rate 19
Bumrah only played 18 T20s in 2019, for Mumbai Indians and India, but he still made a compelling case for selection. The Indian quick was integral to Mumbai’s third IPL crown, regularly delivering under pressure. No pace bowler to bowl more than 400 balls returned a lower economy rate than Bumrah’s 6.53, despite him bowling 47 per cent of his overs in the death-over phase – the most of any bowler.
11. Harry Gurney
Economy rate 7.84
Strike rate 16
No pace bowler in the world took more wickets than Gurney, who was involved in title-winning triumphs for Melbourne Renegades and Barbados Tridents, although he did struggle in the IPL. This year Gurney overtook Dwayne Bravo and Andrew Tye as the world’s premier slower ball bowler. The 33-year-old bowled 71 per cent of his overs outside the powerplay, where his canny variations and left-arm angle proved immensely difficult to get away.
This team was picked based on domestic and international T20 performances between January 1, 2019 and December 1, 2019.
This article first appeared in issue 27 of Wisden Cricket Monthly