By Kishan Vaghela
West Indies won the sixth edition of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, beating England in the final by four wickets. India and New Zealand qualified from Group A to qualify for the semi-finals, but after India lost to the eventual winners, the competition has yet to be won by the host nation. However, these eleven stars enhanced their reputation, large or small, this spring.
Jason Roy – England
Eoin Morgan claimed that England “are building something special” after their defeat in the final, and Surrey’s 25-year-old batsman Roy is a testament to that. His belligerent 43 from just 16 balls, which included five fours and three sixes in pursuit of the mammoth 229 set by South Africa, laid the platform for Joe Root to decisively seize the initiative. Further scores of 42 from 39 deliveries against Sri Lanka and his destructive 78 from 44 balls against the so far undefeated New Zealand in the semi-final ensured England set and chased scores with a solid base. He was bowled second ball by Samuel Badree in the final, but that should not detract from the progression he has made on the international stage in this tournament.
Quinton de Kock (wk) – South Africa
Despite the Proteas’ failure to qualify for the semi-finals, de Kock yet again proved what an exceptional wicketkeeper-batsman they possess in their ranks. Scoring over 40 runs in all but one of South Africa’s four games in the tournament, including a brilliant 52 against England, the 23-year-old’s flair was imbued with precision at times to pull off some extravagant shots. He also took five catches and managed two stumpings to represent an excellent tournament behind the stumps. Alongside fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, de Kock’s future with the Proteas looks bright, despite yet another disappointing tournament for the elder statesmen of Faf du Plessis’ side.
Virat Kohli (c) – India
Kohli was honoured with the Player of the Tournament award, and deservedly so, after he scored an unrivalled 273 runs in the competition. Despite reaching the semi-finals, India’s big names, Kohli aside, largely struggled for form. However, whilst the 27-year-old’s conventional style of batting defies the revised batting manual since the shortest format’s inception, his dexterity and ability to identify scoring areas rescued his side from perilous situations, save India’s opener against New Zealand. Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik were ruthlessly dispatched of in a 55 not out from Kohli on a difficult wicket in Kolkata in a low-scoring game against arch rivals Pakistan, before a sublime 82 not out against Australia ensured the hosts’ passage to the semi-finals. Although his 89 not out and fourth T20I wicket against West Indies in the semi-final was ultimately in vain, his array of strokes represented his masterful persona on a cricket field. Former India opener Virender Sehwag said Kohli “will become India’s greatest cricketer across all formats”. Based on this tournament, he may be on his way to becoming just that.
Joe Root – England
Joe Root made another great stride in international cricket with another impeccable year seemingly in the offing after a remarkable 2015. Just one innings where he scored under 25, Root seems to possess an almost flawless game without any discernible weakness. His 83 against South Africa was undoubtedly the most obvious verification of this, his calmness at the crease a contrasting approach to that of Kohli, but unlike his Indian counterpart can execute scoop shots and reverse sweeps to great effect to add a certain unpredictability to his game. Just as Kohli did not deserve to be on the losing side against West Indies, Root did not deserve to suffer the same fate against the same opposition in the final, with his 54 with the bat and two wickets, including that of Chris Gayle, a similarly harsh return for the cherubic darling of English cricket.
Marlon Samuels – West Indies
Perhaps a surprise inclusion given his perceived shortcomings in the tournament, Samuels’ big-match presence is a quality that very few in world cricket possess. An 85 not out in the final was fundamental in seeing West Indies keep in touch with England’s score before Carlos Brathwaite’s onslaught in the final over. A 43 against South Africa and a 37 in their opening game, also against England, proved to establish more consistency than the household names of other countries. Banned from bowling for 12 months in December 2015 after undergoing testing on his action, Samuels has more than justified his selection with bat in hand alone.
Jos Buttler – England
Perhaps the most swashbuckling batsman in world cricket except AB de Villiers, Buttler’s fearless approach to batting is a refreshing sight in comparison to the methodical outlook of previous England sides. Whether rebuilding the innings or providing the momentum, Buttler never looks to suppress his positive attitude to batting. His 66 off 37 balls against Sri Lanka in what effectively was a quarter-final for England was evidence of his ability to perform under pressure, whereas his style was more palpable against New Zealand, finishing the innings in his own distinctive manner: four, six, six, one, six. He somewhat steadied the ship in the final with Root after England had fallen to 23-3, but unfortunately he was unable to kick on following that rebuilding period.
Andre Russell – West Indies
One of three bowling all-rounders in this side, Andre Russell picked up nine wickets overall in the competition, with at least one coming in each game. Although he was more on the expensive side in terms of economy rate, the importance of taking wickets is at times overlooked. Although he started extremely well against India before succumbing to Kohli’s brilliance, Russell’s bowling figures in the final, which included an economy rate of under six runs per over, demonstrated his ability to balance pace with accuracy. However, his contribution with the bat in the semi-final was scintillating. Any hopes the hosts had of an unlikely victory, after Kohli had dismissed Johnson Charles, were immediately dashed as the 27-year-old Jamaican blazed 43 not out from 20 deliveries including four sixes, the last of which won them the game with two balls to spare. He failed with the bat in the final but nonetheless remains one of the most destructive all-rounders around in the cricketing world.
David Willey – England
Willey’s rise in limited overs cricket has aided Trevor Bayliss and Eoin Morgan in their search for a balanced line-up. A little on the expensive side in the opening two games of the tournament, Willey’s adaptability shone through, conceding over 25 runs in just one of the next four games. However, it was his wicket taking at the beginning of the innings which has earned him the plaudits, managing 10 wickets altogether in the tournament, including a beautiful inswinger which trapped Lendl Simmons LBW in the final. He also played a useful knock of 21 with the bat in the final, which propelled England to over 150, which could have been the difference had Brathwaite not gone all guns blazing against Stokes in the final over.
Mitchell Santner – New Zealand
Joint third wicket-taker in the tournament with fellow countryman Ish Sodhi, the 24-year-old wasted no time in imposing himself, achieving the second best economy rate in any one innings in the Kiwis’ opening game against India, a spell which included the wickets of Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni. Although he underachieved with the bat in the competition, with a highest score of just 18, Santner’s consistency in line and length with the ball, in addition to the spin on offer on subcontinent wickets, meant he was a threat to every side in the group stage. Despite looking rather tame in the semi-final, after being faced with the daunting task of bowling to Buttler, the Kiwi middle order’s failure to capitalise on captain Kane Williamson and Colin Munro’s excellent start was detrimental to Santner’s potential to influence the game. One of only nine bowlers to take four or more wickets in a single innings, Santner has already progressed as a cricketer since the thrilling ODI series in England between the two sides last summer.
Samuel Badree – West Indies
Badree’s name was perhaps not the one many believed would top the charts for the most dot balls bowled in the tournament. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old leg-spinner bowled 68 balls which were not scored off, despite some inconsistencies early on in terms of taking wickets. Having fired blanks against England and South Africa, the Trinidadian picked up three wickets each against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. He didn’t let India’s batsmen dictate terms to him on an excellent batting surface in Mumbai and also managed to pick up the wicket of the somewhat resurgent Sharma. However, his most telling contribution was in the final, bowling Roy off the second ball of the final, before taking a superb catch at short third man to dismiss Plunkett, which unfortunately resulted in an injury to his right shoulder, a part of the body he has had issues with in the past, meaning he could take no further part.
Mustafizur Rahman – Bangladesh
Scrolling through the bowling statistics, it is very difficult to find a category in which this new bowling sensation is not listed in the top ten. The left-arm fast bowler burst onto the scene last year in a home series against India and has not looked back since. His ability to vary his pace so deceptively is his greatest asset. No wonder therefore that he was only one of two bowlers to take five wickets in an innings, with the 20-year-old recording figures of 5-22 against New Zealand in Kolkata. Mustafizur represents the new breed of Bangladeshi cricket, and with the likes of other youngsters such as Taskin Ahmed, alongside the more canny and experienced Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and captain Mashrafe Mortaza, Bangladesh may bring about automatic qualification for forthcoming tournaments in the near future.
Jason Roy – Ben Sutherland via Wikimedia Commons
Quinton de Kock – NAPARAZZI via Wikimedia Commons
David Willey – Ben Sutherland via Wikimedia Commons