Saturday, March 2, 2024

BBL 2020-21: Team of the Tournament

The tenth edition of the Big Bash League has ended with Sydney Sixers/Perth Scorchers lifting their third/fourth title beating Perth Scorchers/Sydney Sixers in the finals. The tournament saw a number of domestic players as well as foreign internationals rising up to the occasion; some making their names for the first time at the big stage, some continuing their legacy like every year while some others making their case for international or IPL call-ups. The eight-team tournament turned out to be a hugely successful event despite all the obstacles due to Covid-19.

While a lot of players impressed with their skill sets, temperament and determination, here we pick the best possible playing XI from the tournament, based on their performances, team combination and how the players fit into the roles:

Openers: Alex Hales and Josh Phelippe

The highest run-getter of the tournament, Alex Hales fills in as the first-choice opener. In 15 innings he played, Hales scored 543 runs at an average of 38.68 and strike rate of 161.60, which included 3 fifties and a hundred. The English opener more often than not provided flying starts for his team and played a key role in Thunders reaching the play-offs.

Player of the tournament Josh Phelippe joins Hales as the second opener and the wicket-keeper of the side. The third-highest run-getter this season, Phelippe scored 508 runs at an average of 31.75 and strike rate of 149.41. The Sydney Sixers opener hit 4 fifties this season, and was absolutely sensational behind the stumps.

Middle Order: James Vince, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell

James Vince was on and off for the entire tournament, but had saved his best for the most crucial games; the last two games including the finals. A couple of 90-plus scores in the last two games helped his team pip Perth Scorchers and win their third title. Vince finished as the second-highest run getter this season with 537 runs at an average of 38.35 and strike rate of 143.58, which includes 4 fifties. Though the last two innings came as an opener, Vince was just too good to be left out and hence walks in as the number three in the XI.

Marnus Labuschagne, the man whose arrival in the middle of the season turned the fortunes for Brisbane heat and pummelled them into the play-offs, fits in as the number 4 in the XI. Not just as a batsman, Labuschagne played a huge role with the ball too. The all-rounder was amongst the wickets more often than not and formed a formidable spin bowling partnership with Mitchell Swepson. He picked 10 wickets in just 6 games, picking a wicket every 10.2 balls. With the bat Labuschagne aggregated 176 runs at an average of 29.33, with a top score of 49. The numbers might not be staggering but the impact he had in the few games he played makes him an automatic choice.

The Melbourne Stars skipper Glenn Maxwell, after having a forgettable outing in the IPL, returned to his best in the Big Bash League. Maxwell finished with 379 runs at an average of 31.58 and strike rate of 143.56, including 3 fifties. With the ball, Maxwell was not amongst wickets often, picking just 7 wickets, but managed to put brakes on scoring rate with an economy of 7.66. Maxwell walks into the side as a floater in the middle order and the lone finger spinner.

All-rounders: Daniel Christian and Daniel Sams

The man with the highest number of T20 titles across leagues, Daniel Christian excelled in all three departments this season, which can be considered as one of his best seasons in BBL. Bowling mostly in the Power surge and in death overs, Christian picked 15 wickets at an economy of 8.84. With the bat, he scored 272 runs at an average of 34.00 and strike rate of 182.55, which includes 2 match-winning half-centuries. Playing the role of a finisher for the Champions Sydney Sixers, Christian was absolutely sensational as he hit a boundary every 3.82 balls.

Sydney Thunders all-rounder Daniel Sams, despite not being at his best as far as wicket-taking is considered, had a dream season with the bat. Playing as a finisher for Thunders, Sams scored 200 runs at a strike rate of 188.67 and average of 40.00, which included a match-winning 65* off 25 balls against Brisbane Heats. Moreover, Sams hit 14 sixes in just 106 balls and he scored a boundary every 4.24 balls. With the ball, Sams picked 11 wickets at an economy of 8.51. Though the economy is a bit on the higher side, it should be taken into consideration that he bowled a lot in death overs with little support from the other end. Sams and Christian fill in as the finishers and probable death bowlers in the XI.

Bowlers: Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Ben Dwarshius and Tanveer Sangha

One of the most impressive pacers in the tournament, Perth Scorchers’ Jhye Richardson finished as the leading wicket takers in the tournament, picking 29 wickets at an economy of 7.69 and strike ate of 12.7. Bowling the difficult overs including the power surge overs and the crucial death overs, Richardson was one of the key reasons why his side made it to the finals. Though his form tapered off a bit towards the end of the tournament, Jhye has done enough to walk into this XI as the first-choice pacer.

Adam Zampa was one of the most impressive spinners this season, having bowled at literally all stages of the game. The Melbourne Stars spinner, whom his skipper trusted to bowl a few overs at the death too, picked 19 wickets at an economy of 7.35. The leg-spinner also had a five-wicket haul and picked a wicket every 14.2 balls this season.

The second highest wicket-taker of the tournament, Ben Dwarshius is an obvious choice for the second pacer’s slot. With 24 wickets at an average of 16.79 which includes a 4-fer in the finals, Dwarshius hardly had a bad game this season. He bowled in the powerplays, in the power surge, at the death and whenever the skipper felt the need of a wicket and more often than not, the left-arm pacer delivered.

A part of Australian U-19 side in 2020, Tanveer Sangha ended as the highest wicket-taker among spinners this season. Highly impressive with the ball in middle overs, the youngster provided regular breakthroughs under pressure and spearheaded the spin attack for the Sydney Thunders. Sangha picked 21 wickets at a strike rate of 13.5 and economy of 8.08 and walks into the XI as the second spinner.

X-Factors: Colin Munro and Wes Agar

Colin Munro was one of the most dependable number three this season, who narrowly missed out on a place in the XI, thanks to Vince’s two 90-plus scores in the crucial games. Munro scored 443 runs at an average of 31.64, which included 4 fifties. The fact that he rescued the side after the top-order failed on multiple occasions makes his stats even more impressive.

Wes Agar was amongst the wickets more often than not, picking up 22 wickets at a strike rate of 14.9 and economy of 8.35. The right-arm pacer was his skipper’s go-to bowler whenever he wanted to stop the flow of runs as well as pick wickets.

Best XI of the Tournament:

Alex Hales, Josh Phelippe (wk), James Vince, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell (c), Daniel Christian, Daniel Sams, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Ben Dwarshius, Tanveer Sangha

X-Factors- Colin Munro, Wes Agar

Deepak Panda
Deepak Panda
Cricket Aficionado and Data freak, in love with the amalgamation of Data in the game of Cricket and having an impeccable zeal for inculcating statistical analysis in cricket. A business analyst by profession and a cricket analyst by passion, a believer that stats if used in the right way can provide immense amount of insights about the game and the players.
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