Shane Watson: the big match performer

Bill Lawry once floated the idea that Watson should retire from Test matches and instead focus on the short forms: since he’s a ‘superstar’ in limited overs cricket, why does he bother with a format that puts such a strain on his brittle body? While this might have just been a throwaway line during the commentary of an ODI, it does illustrate this disparity between his achievements in the Test arena and the shorter forms.

His Test record – although not as bad as public sentiment would have it, as I have discussed previously – jumps out as one of underachievement for Australia’s next “Keith Miller”. However, in one-day internationals, he ranks as one of the greatest all-rounders in the format: across his 190 matches, he has aggregated 5757 runs at 40.54 and 168 wickets at 31.79. Among batting all-rounders, only Jacques Kallis and Viv Richards have comparable records. In Twenty20 Internationals, he motored along at a strike-rate of 145 and was miserly with his mediums, which went at an economy rate 7.5. But his true value as a limited overs players is fully depicted by his performances in global ICC tournaments.

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World T20 2016: Team of the Tournament

As with every ICC event, the time has come for the obligatory post on the team of the tournament for the World Twenty20 2016. In a tip to their efforts in pushing their sides to the final, the side includes four Englishmen and two West Indians. From the other nations, we have two from Bangladesh and one each from Afghanistan, India and New Zealand. Read on to find out:

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Snippets of future Associate stars

[Part 1 in a series of articles on Associate nations during post-World T20 2016 period]

During the World T20, the cricketing public were forced onto a diet of games that was particularly low on Associate cricket. The ICC bureaucracy had decided that Associate nations, like cheese pizzas, were best to be avoided because of their bland taste and lack of money-making potential. Thus, the format was designed in such a way that the major Test nations wouldn’t have played an Associate had it not been for Zimbabwe’s dysfunction.

Even though they were restricted by the powers that be, the matches involving the Associates were still able to showcase cricketers who have great potential to make an impact on the cricketing world. The fact that this occurs with such frequency during region-wide or global ICC events lends much credence to the argument for heavier Associate involvement.

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Investigating the Kohli-Faulkner rivalry

The date is 17 January 2016 and India are 2/171 in yet another Australia v India ODI. Virat Kohli is at the non-striker’s end on 72 when James Faulkner begins a futile attempt to verbally unsettle him.

Kohli: Go bowl. Don’t waste your time. Go bowl. You’re wasting your energy. No point.

Faulkner: Having fun, are we?

Kohli: No point. I’ve smashed you enough in my life. No point. Go bowl.

As I watched Virat Kohli dispatch James Faulkner for three consecutive boundaries during his chasing masterclass in the decisive World T20 group match in Mohali, I was reminded of the verbal exchange above. While Kohli’s slap-down might be attributed to gamesmanship – both Kohli and Faulkner are fierce competitors with combative personalities – Kohli did raise an interesting question: has he really smashed him enough in his life?

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Stokes seizes the moments

World T20 2016, 29th Match: England v Sri Lanka at Delhi, March 26, 2016

Although I have written before that Test cricket is not a game of moments, Twenty20 matches are decidedly different affairs. Given the compact nature of the format and the usually slender margins for victory, seizing an opportunity can be the difference between a win or a loss. The 2015 Indian Premier League had a particularly apt catchphrase of “One Big Over”, which succinctly captures how easily the momentum of a Twenty20 match can be captured.

While Jos Buttler received the player-of-the match award – and deservedly so – for his unbeaten 66 off 36 balls, there were several moments in which Ben Stokes’ involvement ensured that England would have a spot in the World T20 semi-finals. Below is a look at some of these moments.

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Mustafizur Rahman: Bangladesh’s very bright light

World T20 2016, 28th Match: Bangladesh v New Zealand at Kolkata, March 26, 2016

It is fair to say that Bangladesh’s World T20 campaign has been a slight disappointment. The Netherlands came within nine runs of knocking them out before they could even play a Test nation. In the Super 10 stages, they failed to come away with a win from four matches, losing two matches by margins of greater than fifty runs against Pakistan and New Zealand. Their loss to India by one run will go down as one of the most spectacular chokes in World T20 history: even South Africa is unlikely to ever see WWW on their scorecard in a situation where two runs are needed off three balls.

However, they will leave India with the knowledge that Mustafizur Rahman is indeed one of the most exciting prospects in world cricket. While there are certainly young quick bowlers who seem capable of more destructive exploits – Kagiso Rabada from South Africa comes to mind – Mustafizur is the one player most capable of long-term success.

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Maxwell’s path to maturity

World T20 2016, 26th Match: Australia v Pakistan at Mohali, Mar 25, 2016

The highlights reel of this vital group match will contain a number of eye-popping cricketing moments. It will show Steve Smith scoring a logic-defying boundary from so far outside off-stump that he almost walked onto a different pitch. You will see Shane Watson, freed from insecurities over his position in the side for the first time in years, smoke the resurgent young quick Mohammad Amir for sixes. James Faulkner took the best figures for an Australian bowler in T20I’s from his slower balls and cutters. However, the most noteworthy feature of this match that I will take away is Glenn Maxwell’s dot-ball percentage while batting.

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Mitchell Santner: the Test star?

For those who haven’t been following New Zealand cricket closely over the past year, chances are that you wouldn’t have heard the name Mitchell Santner before this World T20. Even if you have been doing so, then the thought that Santner could be a Test star is likely a foreign one.

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