For over a decade now the world has witnessed T20 cricket. The purists of the game had trouble adapting to this modern format and it still hasn’t entirely won over every single cricket fan. What no one can dispute is that it has brought with it some pulsating moments and electric run chases. Batting throughout all formats has been changed forever. What we once thought was a decent run rate no longer looks anything close to competitive thanks to T20 cricket. Here are the most brutal and explosive men that have defied logic and batting as we know it.
10. Shahid Afridi
An international list of the greatest batsman to play T20 cricket wouldn’t be complete without the presence of ‘Boom Boom’. Aptly named because of his ability to launch the ball over the boundary ropes at will, Shahid Afridi was a showstopper. The Pakistan international has played more T20 international cricket than anybody else in the world. His 98 international caps is a reflection of his talent and longevity. During that time, Afridi scored 1,405 runs at an average of 18.01. His strike rate of 150.75 is truly incredible given the number of games he played. Afridi just couldn’t help himself and always went out in a blaze of glory. He was a compulsive slogger that hit some of the biggest shots the game has seen. His 73 sixes in this format is only bettered by five other players.
9. JP Duminy
JP Duminy is living proof that you don’t have to clear the ropes every ball to be successful at this format. His manipulation of the field and quick running between the wickets has made him one of the most dynamic T20 players around. He is eigth on the all time scoring list and has managed a strike rate of 124.29. In his 71 games he has scored 1,683 runs and has an impressive average of 38.25. During his 71 games, Duminy managed to accumulate 21 not outs which has been only bettered by 2 other players, Shoaib Malik and MS Dhoni. Over his career Duminy has gone quietly about his business and hasn’t developed the reputation of a brutal six hitting bully, but when you compare his figures to the rest of the world, you see just how effective he has been.
8. AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers has produced some of the most unconventional T20 innings you are likely to see. Time seems to stand still when de Villiers is at the crease. He has the skill and audacity to sweep a quick for 6 when bowling at 145kph. There is no end to de Villiers skill as he has an arsenal of shots greater than any other world player. In his 76 games he has scored 1,603 runs at an average of 25.85. His strike rate of 134.14 proves he is almost always in complete control of the battle between bat and ball. There is an elegance to de Villiers T20 approach and when he gets up to full steam there are few more thrilling sights in world cricket.
7. David Warner
Over time David Warner has proven that he is the real deal. The pocket rocket Australian opener takes on the new ball with aggression and determination. He is a nightmare for bowlers and often leaves them completely spent. Warner makes sure that he is never dominated by any bowler and never gives them a chance to settle. In his 63 games he has scored 1,686 runs at an average of 28.10. He is 7th on the all time scoring list and has done so by going at a strike rate of 139.56. There’s no doubt that Warner would open the batting for most if not every international team. His uncompromising stance has made him feared the world over.
6. Kevin Pietersen
KP’s international career was curtailed by a fallout with the England and Wales Cricket Board. During his T20 career he set world cricket on fire and helped England win the 2010 T20 World Cup. If it hadn’t been for a premature end to his international career then you can be sure KP would have gone onto to smash the records set. In 37 games he scored 1176 at an average of 37.93 and a strike rate of 141.51. If you double the amount of games and runs he scored then his record would better that of Brendan McCullum who is the all time leading run scorer. KP was box office and never failed to disappoint. He wasn’t only brute force and manipulated the field with immense success. Pietersen was incredible during his short T20 career.
5. Tillakaratne Dilshan
Tillakaratne Dilshan opened up scoring areas that were never thought possible to score from. He played his first ‘dilscoop’ during the 2009 World Cup and the world hasn’t stopped playing it since. The paddle over his and the wicketkeepers head for 4 or 6 was an illustration of Dilshan’s ability to adapt and break boundary’s. In his 80 games he scored 1889 runs at an average of 28.19. His strike rate of 120.54 is equally as impressive. In a glittering T20 career Dilshan ended as 2nd on the all time leading run scorers list. That isn’t the only honour Dilshan came away with – he holds the unique record of having hit the most fours in T20 cricket, and his tally of 223 is 23 more than his nearest competitor.
4. Martin Guptill
Martin Guptill has proven to be one of the cleanest strikers of the cricket ball in world cricket. He is famous for a still head whilst executing some of the biggest 6 hitting New Zealand and the world has seen. He is on course to break the records of leading run scorers if he can stay fit. In his 61 games he has scored 1,806 runs at an average of 34.73. When he gets his timing right and takes to a certain pitch or bowler inevitable carnage always seems to follow. His strike rate of 131.44 is one of the best given the amount of games he has played. T20 cricket is all set up for Guptill to take it by storm and leave his mark on it. If he keeps his fitness levels up then the sky is absolutely the limit.
3. Chris Gayle
If any bowler were to tell you that they weren’t suffering from incredible anxiety whilst running up to bowl to Chris Gayle then you almost certainly have the right to call them a liar. Gayle is physically imposing and from 22 yards most bowlers are forgiven for going in with a damage control mindset rather than a wicket taking one. In his 50 games he has scored 1,519 runs at an average of 35.32. Gayle goes at a great speed and his strike rate shows that – 145.49 is one of the leading strike rates in world cricket. It comes as no surprise that Gayle has hit the most sixes in T20 history, his record of 98 is 7 better than the retired McCullum. When Chris Gayle swings that big bat it doesn’t have to come off the middle to go the distance, when it does, it goes further than any cricketer has hit the ball.
2. Virat Kohli
Everything Virat Kohli touches in world cricket seems to turn to gold. His T20 career stats are astonishing and prove that he may be the best T20 batsman to have played the game once he retires. At 28 years old he has played 48 games and scored 1,709 runs with a phenomenal and world’s best average of 53.40. When you consider T20 batting stats are measured by how may 30’s you’ve made, it defies belief that Kohli has a T20 average that would almost top the test standings. Kohli has scored 16 T20 fifties which is the most by any world player. Virat Kohli is the perfect example that you don’t have to hit the ball hard or slog it to be the world’s best. His commitment to stick to pure cricket shots and stroke play has given him the edge in a very competitive format.
1. Brendan McCullum
Brendan McCullum was and still is without a doubt the most lethal T20 batsman the world has seen. His batting style was fearless and his aggression legendary. No one was spared the treatment and he didn’t need time to get going. There were many occasions when he would come charging down the wicket during the first ball of the innings and smash the likes of Steyn, Starc, Riaz or Malinga for 6. His lack of respect for the bowlers and balls being bowled to him was quite astonishing to watch. McCullum always went in to bat with the same mindset and never backed down to any challenge ahead of him. His record of 2140 runs in 71 games makes him the all time leading run scorer in the T20 format. His average of 35.66 and strike rate of 136.21 is nothing short of amazing. He also holds two T20 international hundreds which is tied for the most of any batsman in world cricket. McCullum’s approach to batting in T20 cricket gave cricket in New Zealand an identity. They became universally liked and went on to achieve the most they had ever done. There is no question that Brendon McCullum is the finest batsman to play T20 cricket so far.
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