Top 10 specialists in Twenty20 cricket
Cricket used to be a summer sport, but now it is played non-stop, all-year round. Since it is popular countries in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres, there's a very good chance of a league being played somewhere, every month of the year.
This has helped cricketers with skills which are prized assets in Twenty20 become high in demand properties. The development has been beneficial to players who are out of favour with their national sides for various reasons and also those who have reduced their workload to extend their careers.
There are opportunities aplenty.
T20 Blast starts off in England in July, the Caribbean Premier League is played in August-September, Sri Lankan League is in September, Bangladesh Premier League in November-December, RamSlam in South Africa starts around the same time, Big Bash begins in December in Australia, so too does Super Smash in New Zealand. Pakistan Super League is played in February-March and the most open window of April-May is reserved for the IPL in India.
These athletes go and participate in these leagues and for which, they have been branded a bit harshly, as cricketing mercenaries, owing to the franchises giving them very handsome paychecks.
Mercenary is a harsh word to describe international cricketers but is also an adjective that they have grudgingly come to accept. It is barter system that suits them materialistically. Personally, I think that freelancers is a better word, as their services are auctioned for. Only if they are participating in these leagues in favour of representing their countries does an ethical question arise.
The players who have successfully built a career as freelancers are invariably those with unique skills and charisma; and around whom franchises prefer to build their teams. Here are the top seven freelancers in Twenty20 cricket of all time.
*All statistics as of May 10, 2018
#10 Rashid Khan
Franchises: Adelaide Strikers, Band-e-Amir Dragons, Comilla Victorians, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Kabul Eagles, Quetta Gladiators, Sunrisers Hyderabad
The leg-break bowlers have been very successful in this format and a bowler of the calibre of Rashid Khan has been instrumental in bringing back the art of wrist spin. The Afghan's variations have confused batsmen, which explains his outstanding career economy rate of under 6. By bowling a leg-break traditionally as well as with the wrist position of a googly, he further perplexes batsmen. He is quick through the air, gets the drift, and bowls the googly with accuracy.
Matches 102 | Wickets 102 | Economy Rate 5.97 | Bowling Strike Rate 15.98 | Best Bowling Figures 5/3 | 5w Once | Catches 30
Trivia: He got the highest-ever bid for an Associate player when Sunrisers Hyderabad bought him for 4 crores in 2017
#9 Luke Wright
Franchises: Abahani Limited, Dhaka Gladiators, Melbourne Stars, Pune Warriors, Quetta Gladiators, Rajshahi Kings, Sussex
Luke Wright has 7 hundreds in this format. He is a force to reckon with his deceptively nippy bowling and his top-notch fielding makes him an ideal player for the format. He is capable of muscling bowling attacks and making a mockery of field placements. He's not been his best while playing for England, but in franchise cricket, he's found his calling.
Matches 289 | Runs 6747 | Strike Rate 143.64 | Highest Score 153* | Hundreds 7 | Batting Average 27.99 | Wickets 79 | Economy Rate 8.54 | Catches 92 |
Trivia: Has been retained by his Big Bash franchise Melbourne Stars for 7 seasons running.