By Gokul Chakravarthy
Here is my All Time Greatest Twenty20 Team! Lufthansa celebrates this year's IPL fantasy 2010 championship by giving away exciting prizes, including round-trip tickets to India, signed memorabilia and much more! If you live in USA, you can pick your IPL team by clicking here before the start of the first IPL game on March 12th.
[If you do not live in USA, click here for the Indian version of the game with prizes by Reebok.]
Virender Sehwag - D$850,000
While cricket and its legions of followers are cursed with three different formats to choose from, this perennially unhurried and calm-looking powerhouse of a batsman is blessed with only one simple mode of batting. This mode knows no distinction between bowlers, grounds, pitches, opposition, weather, light, partner, ball, or indeed the format of Cricket itself. All it knows is the distinction between a ball that has to be hit to the fence and another that has to over! A batsman who shall enter Cricket’s annals as someone who single-handedly redefined one of the most specialized jobs in a Cricket team ... opening the batting in Test matches. With such an effervescent style of batsmanship, it is, but obvious, that “Viru”, as he is known affectionately to family and fans, should be a natural shoo in for opening the all-time T20 batting order.
Thilakaratne Dilshan - D$250,000
It is not often that a cricket shot is invented and it is even rarer that it be given the name of its inventor. Only time will tell if the “Dill-scoop” is merely a fad or will space age cricketers continue to unleash their Dill-scoops amidst dollops of red gas on a far away planet. But as long as this fearless cricketer is playing cricket, he shows no sign of eschewing this particular shot. Much like Sehwag, he does play all formats with ditto alacrity, but what he lacks is what it takes to completely take teh match away from the opposition in the longer formats of the sport with as much consistency and maturity as Sehwag; something that didn’t originally come to Sehwag too naturally either. So who knows, “Dilly” might get there soon too. But that is of no concern here as we are merely picking the best T20 eleven. He would easily scoop his way into any such team.
Donald Bradman (head coach) - Priceless
Yes! Why not? If someone can score 300 runs in a day and 200 in a session all by himself – both feats that “the Don” performed at least once in first-class cricket – then he most certainly can be part of a T20 team. Bradman had a voracious appetite for runs and almost no weakness in his batting, all of which have been written about aplenty and all of which make him a great #3 behind Viru and Dilshan.
Garry Sobers (batting coach) - Priceless
A lefty in the top-order would be quite handy. It also helps if it is the best lefty ever. That, combined with the fact that Sobers is widely considered to be the best all-rounder the sport has ever seen, make us wonder what this smashing batsman and swing-seam-spin-break bowler would have done in a T20 match at the peak of his prowess. His fielding has not gone unnoticed either and having score 6 sixes in as many balls in one over in first-class cricket, he could teach today’s Yuvraj’s a thing or two about excelling in T20.
Vivian Richards - Priceless
The original Master Blaster. As cool and composed under pressure as on a Caribbean beach singing “Olaa laa laa laa Ole yo”, the best of bowlers around the world looked ordinary, in more ways than one, against the swagger and strokeplay of this entertainer worth millions. It wouldn’t be a stretch of one’s imagination to assume that an IPL auction held at this man’s prime would no doubt have fetched him amounts that would have left the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Keiron Pollard and MS Dhoni drooling with envy. Needless to say, records for fastest 50s, 100s and maybe even 150s would have fallen before said drool hit the ground.
Adam Gilchrist (wicket-keeper) - D$700,000
Every cricket team needs a wicket-keeper. It helps if you are also the best ever wicket-keeper batsman cricket has ever seen and are credited with inventing a new meaning to the term “all-rounder”. Cricket was ushered into a new era singlehandedly, well actually, maybe with both hands, two massive gloves and a squash ball or two. Another one of our modern day “What format! What situation!” kind of batsman who inspired his IPL team in his first year of captaincy from the bottom-most spot to actually winning the whole damn thing! Skill and head seem to work in symbiosis whenever this made-for-T20 cricketer takes the field.
Ian Botham - Priceless
An all-rounder in the more traditional sense of the role, ‘Sir’ Ian, with his attacking tendencies as a cricketer, be it with the ball or the bat, would have been an automatic selection in any T20 squad, had that form of cricket been in practice when he still played international cricket. His ability to swing both bat and ball with equal aplomb and skill would have meant that he would have also lent balance to most T20 line-ups, something that is seen as a requisite quality for world-beating T20 teams. His flamboyance and charisma, combined with his rock star image has always ensured that he was in the minds of marketers in any case and with ‘entertainment’ being a key ingredient in T20 cricket, he would become an instant hit in that format.
Shane Warne (captain) - D$450,000
“Hollywood”, as this entertainer is known to his Aussie team mates, is well-known for writing his own scripts on the cricket field, the likes of which sometimes make even Lucas and Spielberg look like pale imitators. When the world was caught in the IPL storm, Warnie kept his young, vastly inexperienced, utterly inexpensive and woefully inderrated wards at Rajasthan Royals inspired and motivated enough to beat all odds and opponents to a seemingly improbable title win in 2008. Leading, both as a captain and as a coach and by example with bat, ball and in the field, Shane Warne came back to the spotlight, after retirement from international cricket, in a format that was being touted as a death knell for spinners and slow bowlers and proved yet again that quality spin bowling had a huge role to play on any field where bat and ball compete against each other. The best cricketer to have never captained Australia would also be the captain of this all-time great T20 team.
Wasim Akram - Priceless
The best-ever left-arm pace bowler and possibly one of the top 5 best pacer bowlers ever to have played cricket, this man could do it all with the ball – swing it both ways, bowl Yorkers at will and trouble top-order batsmen with short-pitched deliveries. His fans often reminisce about the numerous times when he made his run-up look like a mere formality and would still let go of 90MPH deliveries from just a few yards of approach to the wicket. His batting in Tests and ODIs belied his talent with the bat, but what he lacked in terms of temperament and discipline in the longer versions would not have been a problem in this muck quicker format, thereby adding more batting depth to this formidable team.
Glenn McGrath (bowling coach)
The Man, the machine, the metronome ... the McGrath! A bowler with 500+ Test wickets and almost 400 ODI wickets, never let any batsman ever really conquer him in his career, even though he constantly made the best of his contemporary batsmen his bunnies. An out and out ‘trier’, he never ever gave an inch on the cricket field to the opposition and seldom gave many runs either. His work ethic and devotion to any team that he played for was quite apparent when, at the age of 37, he showed up for Delhi Daredevils in the inaugural IPL in 2008 and dove in the outfield like a springbok; needless to say he bowled as if he had been playing international every day of the previous two years that he spent in retirement from cricket. An asset to any team that he represents, he would be in the team purely as a role model for all and sundry and his phenomenal skills at tying down even the best and most explosive of batsmen by sheer accuracy and doggedness with the ball would help as well!
Curtly Ambrose - Priceless
Rounding up the pace battery of this phenomenal all-time T20 team would be this lanky West Indian in whose massive hands a regular-sized cricket ball looked like a real cherry! Someone who could put fear in the batsmen’s minds as much by his bowling as by his mean demeanour towards them, Ambrose could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat pretty much whenever he put his mind to it. Even though his batting and fielding leave much to be desired for a format that requires every player in a team to be really good in at least 2 of the four main disciplines, his excellence and legendary stinginess as a bowler would overcome those shortcomings by a huge margin and thrust him into this T20 team.
Jonty Rhodes (12th Man)