By Jaideep Varma and Jatin Thakkar
It is interesting that in what is largely considered a batsman’s format, bowlers not only hold their own they even dominate it in some quarters. The glamorous aspect of big-hitting batsmanship (the most prominent in this format) however does not let them bask in the limelight for too long. Hence, a piece like this will probably be very revealing to most fans of the game.
What is even more revealing is that spinners, who are considered cannon fodder by casual viewers of this format of the game, are actually the highest impact bowlers in this format. 4 out of the 5 highest impact bowlers in T20 cricket internationals and also domestics around the world are spinners (that’s 8 of the highest impact 10 bowlers discussed here). Some of this does indeed have to do with the role of spinners in this format – most of them do not bowl during the powerplay and death overs – but they also don’t get the benefit of easy wickets being squandered due to excessive risks.
The following are the five highest impact bowlers in T20 Internationals.
Ajantha Mendis – It is one of the great mysteries of modern-day cricket why he has not got more games (and why IPL teams don’t fall over each other to get him and then play him as their strike bowler). The most effective wicket-taker on this list, and pretty much all others (in T20Is), both top/middle-order wickets and lower-order wickets, he has also a remarkable run-saving capacity. He tops this list despite not having a single Series/Tournament-defining performance – a testament to his consistency and effectiveness as a bowler.
Shahid Afridi – Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Afridi’s extraordinary improvement as a bowler came with the advent of T20 cricket. Maybe the shorter format focussed his intensity as a bowler more than anything else had before – and it famously affected his fortunes as a 50-over bowler too (and curiously affected his overall batting adversely). His ability as a big match player puts him so high on this list.
Daniel Vettori – It would not be hyperbolic to say that this is the format that Vettori made his own, as it brought his biggest strength as a bowler – the ability to choke runs, into the forefront (a key function in this format). This quality makes him one of the premier T20 bowlers in the world in both internationals and domestics.
Abdur Razzak – A lethal wicket-taker in this format – Bangladesh’s highest impact T20 bowler also has taken several wickets in succession to have the highest Pressure Building IMPACT here. If his team had helped him add a tournament-defining performance, he might well have been number 2 on this list.
Irfan Pathan – India’s biggest loss in the last decade has been Irfan Pathan’s decline as a bowler. He was at his best when India famously took to T20 cricket (in 2007, when they won the T20 World Cup) – and his tournament-defining performance also comes from that phase.