Former Australia captain Shane Watson was asked who would be his top five T20 players in the world right now by the ICC. To which he came up with a few names which would surely give Indian cricket fans some food for thought. If any team has gone a rapid change since the end of 2021 T20 World Cup, it has got to be India who were knocked out of the tournament after losing the first two games quite badly.
Since then, a lot of water has flown under the bridge as far as Team India is concerned. They have adopted their own ‘Bazball’ tactics especially in T20 cricket as was evident in West Indies where they went onto beat the hosts 4-1, not to mention a 2-1 series win in England previously.
They have also brought on board a number of fast bowlers to the side with the likes of Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya being entrusted with the job in the middle.
That’s why it was no surprise that Watson named the Mumbaikar as his second-best T20 player, however, Indian fans may beg to disagree. Nonetheless, he named Pakistan’s Babar Azam as the best T20 batter, saying that ‘he scores incredibly quickly against the best bowlers in the world.’
“First one I’d pick would be Babar Azam. He’s the No.1 T20I batsman in the world, and he just knows how to dominate. It’s like he’s not even taking any risks, and he scores incredibly quickly against the best bowlers in the world. He’s going to do very well in Australian conditions (during the T20 World Cup) as well, as his technique is very much built for Australian conditions,” he told ICC on their official Youtube channel.
Earlier, he had said that SKY has been batting ‘incredibly well.’
“He is batting incredibly well, and he would be my No.2 pick.”
Besides, he then went onto name the other three in Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi, Australia’s David Warner and England’s Jos Buttler.
Afridi, who rattled the Indian top order in 2021 T20 World Cup, has been already ruled out of Asia Cup and is racing against time to get fit for the world event in 2022.
“His wicket-taking ability is something special. We saw in the last men’s T20 World Cup his ability to be able to get the best batsmen out with that brand new ball.”
“I’d be very surprised if he(Shaheen) doesn’t really dominate in Australian conditions, with the ball swinging around and fast, bouncy wickets. My only little concern with him is, if he doesn’t take wickets to start with, then he can tail off a little bit. But I’m sure he’s been working on that. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t dominate here,” Watson said.
He then went onto explain his rationale for picking up the likes of Warner and Buttler.
“He(Warner) has scored some great runs for the Delhi Capitals (in the IPL). He’s going to have plenty of fire in his belly to make his mark in a T20 World Cup at home, so he’s going to be ready to go.”
Furthermore, he cited Buttler’s feat of four centuries in IPL 2022 as something special. The England white-ball skipper was the Orange Cap holder in 2022 IPL season. Earlier India’s Virat Kohli had achieved the feat in 2016 IPL.
“During the IPL, well a lot of times anyway, no one could get him out. Four hundreds has only been done once before in an IPL, with Virat Kohli doing that (in 2016).
“When he’s in form, and he has been in form, he’s just about impossible in T20 cricket to get out. He can hit wherever he wants off the best bowlers in the world. And he knows Australian conditions really well, he’s played the Big Bash and did very well a few years ago, when I played with him at the Sydney Thunder.”