The 90s T20 XI with players who never played T20 cricket
Despite no cricket being played, there’s plenty of talk surrounding T20 cricket. The future of the T20 World Cup and the IPL have been hot topics ever since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, but the wait continues as the ICC tries to weigh its options regarding the fate of these tournaments.
On a separate note, as modern-day cricket is so much about comparisons and fantasy warfare, we have compiled a fantasy list of our own. We present to you 11 players from the 1990s – a decade widely regarded as the best era of cricket – who have never played T20 cricket in their career in any form – but based on what they brought to the table, could have made up for a rather emphatic T20I team.
(Note – The criteria is based on cricketers who’ve played at least till the first half of the 1990s)
It’s a shame that Saeed Anwar rarely gets a mention in these All-time ODI XIs which former cricketers chalk out these days. Pakistan’s Anwar was the most successful ODI opener of the 1990s, with 6427 runs at an average of 42 and a strike-rate of 82.91. He had flamboyance and the ability to score at a good clip in the first 10 overs. In those runs are 17 centuries, including the record 194 that stood tall for 13 years. Anwar was a prolific batsman whose attacking nature destroyed the confidence of bowlers. On top of that, his graceful strokeplay would more than make up for the brute force T20 batsmen produce today.
The term “pinch-hitter” was first associated with Mark Greatbatch, the former New Zealand opener. A dogged batsman in Tests, Greatbatch would completely transform when he’d open the batting in ODIs. Whacking the ball in the first 15 overs was his thing. After scoring back-to-back centuries in his first two ODIs, Greatbatch scored 313 runs for New Zealand in the 1992 World Cup, including a sparkling innings of 63 off 77 against a West Indies attack which comprised names such as Curtly Ambrose, Malcolm Marshall and Anderson Cummins. With 13 fifties and two ODI centuries with a strike rate of 71.18, Greatbatch would have been quite the fit in T20s.
His technique and batting stance may have been unorthodox, but Ijaz Ahmed boasted a strike-rate of 80.26, and if you’re a follower of India-Pakistan rivalry, you’d remember his brutal 139 off 84 balls which allowed Pakistan to successfully chase down 217 with 142 balls remaining. Ijaz had 10 ODI centuries, each at a strike-rate of over 100. Ijaz’s imposing strike rate was next only to Brian Lara for a No. 3 batsman in the 90s. He was one of the cleanest strikers of the ball and a mainstay of Pakistan’s ODI batting line-up. His technique was not the best but Ijaz made that up by a rock-solid temperament and grit.
Aravinda de Silva (Captain)
If the IPL existed in the 90s, Aravinda de Silva would have been its golden pick. His tally of 6441 at a strike-rate of 82.44 was the most by a middle-order batsman between 1990 and 1999. The way he latched onto those short deliveries and pulling them with a near flat bad were testimonies to his attacking strokeplay. De Silva would explode into the oppositions, his flair-laden cover drives were hit with utter disdain. Add to that 106 ODI wickets, de Silva would have had franchises playing tug of war over him.
The first Rockstar of Indian cricket, Ajay Jadeja’s batting wasn’t the most pleasing to the eye, but it had every bit of the charisma needed to succeed as a T20 cricketer. Jadeja, with his street-smart nature, remained calm under pressure, could run energetically between the wickets, and was a damn good fielder. Besides, he had audacious big-hitting capabilities – the 22-run over off Waqar Younis in the quarter-final of the 1996 is still one of the most talked-about moments in the history of India-Pakistan cricket. And if India needed a partnership-breaker, Jadeja did that more times than the mind can recollect. What else do you need in T20s?
Andy Flower (Wicketkeeper)
The one wicket-keeper who comes to mind who would have been an ideal fit in T20s is Andy Flower. He by no means was a spring chicken, but Flower was effective as his strike-rate of 74.60 would suggest. Flower was extremely efficient against the spinner and even though he averaged just a shade over 35 in ODIs, Flower would help be the rock in Zimbabwe’s middle order whenever the top order was shredded. Had he played T20s, his ability to score runs off spinner and be a dogged figure in the middle order could have proved valuable.
A dependable finisher of the game, and one of the most successful ODI batsmen. If you’re a 90s kid and you remember playing those cricket trump cards game, Bevan’s card was highly sought-after, with his average of 50-plus winning you the round each time. Bevan’s ODI career is decorated with numerous match-winning finishes. His unbeaten 185 for Rest of the World against Asia XI in a match in the year 2000 at Dhaka was perhaps the first-ever blueprint of batting with the tail as he added 119 with Andrew Caddick for the eighth wicket. That kind of hitting and grit would have been gold in T20 cricket.
Brian McMillan would have been the perfect allrounder in T20 cricket. An in-your-face attitude, McMillan would try out variations while bowling and be effective batting anywhere in the batting order. For most of his career, he was South Africa’s man of crisis, picking up wickets almost every time his captain wanted him to or when there was a need to knock off runs briskly. With all that calibre in one person, T20 cricket would have been a cakewalk for McMillan.
Pat Symcox could have been what an R Ashwin is in today’s T20 cricket, only with better hitting skills. Not the most athletic, Symcox could have choked batsmen with his guile and relentless spirit. His off-breaks and beefy lower-order batting would have been in demand in T20 cricket. He was economic with the ball and at times, savage with the bat. His batting would not be confined in the lower order, but at times even at the top. Symcox’s ODI economy rate of 4.15 is the best among all spinners who had bowled at least 3000 balls in the 1990s.
Watching Curtly Ambrose running into batsmen in T20 cricket would have been a sight to behold. His ODI economy of 3.38 in the 90s would have come handy in a situation such as let’s say – 50 required off four overs. After all, Ambrose does have figures of 10-5-5-1 in ODIs. Besides, he was fast and accurate. Which T20 franchise wouldn’t have wanted him if all these leagues existed back in the day?
The Mysore Express Javagal Srinath was the leader of India’s pace attack in the 90. The bowler who defined fast bowling in India, would have been a great catch in T20 cricket. On off days, Srinath could be offbeat, but he could really give India wickets early on, and for a fast bowler to be picked for T20s, what better criteria than early wickets? Srinath’s economy of 4.44 wasn’t the greatest by any means, but he was quick and rarely bowled bad balls. Srinath’s 16 wickets in his last tournament, proved he could still trouble young batsmen, and in a batting-heavy format such as T20, Srinath would have relished the challenge.