Which is the best T20 side in the world? Didn’t Friday night’s game pretty much answer that question?
However, isn’t T20 cricket more about a given day than about a particular team? You can’t predict the winner on the basis of team composition.
Though both England and Australia have been brilliant so far and Pakistan have been the most consistent T20 side over the three WT20 editions, we still can’t be certain as to which team rules the roost. Is it because of the nature of the format or is there more to it?
Before going into the reasons, here are a few statistics to lay the ground for my argument. India, for instance, play no less than 35 ODIs and more than 4-5 Tests in a year. As for T20Is, the ICC allows each country to play just seven matches in a year, excluding the World Cup.
The cap has been imposed to discourage teams from taking T20 too seriously and safeguarding the 50-overs format. Well, if that’s the case, then how does one explain three World T20s in four years? On the one hand, the ICC prohibits teams to play enough matches, and, on the other, expects them to compete at the highest level so frequently. Isn’t it ironical?
Now, Australia were the best side in the world for over a decade not because they won three World Cups in the interim but because they remained consistent throughout.
But consistency cannot be a yardstick at the international level in T20s. That’s because there are not enough T20 internationals. You can’t find specialists (for a position) in a T20 international team if you don’t play enough.
In domestic T20 events, we can find such specialists simply because the volume of matches makes them get used to the position. A player who might be devastating batting at No. 4 for his franchise, might prove a dud at No. 7 in international cricket. But, if they play more T20 internationals, the players will get specific roles according to their expertise.
Eventually, they’ll start working like a well-oiled unit, similar to how most teams operate in the other two formats.
No longer do we pick the best Test players for fifty-over cricket. Then why are we expecting our best ODI players to double up as T20 players? The reason is pretty straightforward - we are still in the trial and error phase.
It’s about time that either the ICC takes this format seriously and allows teams to play more or leave this format only for clubs to compete in.