Just like that, in four balls, Carlos Brathwaite stunned the entire cricketing world by making a daunting task look easy granting the West Indies their second ICC World T20 Chapionship.
You have probably seen the replay a hundred times now – needing 19 runs off the final 6 balls of the tournament, with the trophy seemingly headed to England, the big Bajan had other ideas, and showcased exactly what was the defining characteristic of this Championship winning ‘Windies’ team.
Some cricket purists have bemoaned the existence and proliferation of T20 cricket for a variety of reasons, least of them being its lack of focus on the finer points of batting technique, footwork, wrist motion and timing.
The belief ist that the time crunch would result in batsmen slogging, chasing boundaries, and a look at Chris Gayle’s numbers at the crease throughout his T20 career validates it.
However, the just concluded T20 World Cup showed that there is still a place for artistry with the bat, with Joe Root and Virat Kohli singled out by most pundits as standout performers in the tournament.
These two scored the highest runs of the tournament after the Super 10 round of competition (249 for Root and 273 for Kohli, compared to a team high of 181 for Marlon Samuels) and also had the lowest dot ball percentages.
They both played fine strokes all around the cricket ground and ran hard between the wickets to pick up singles and doubles.
But the argument that the West Indies won the tournament due to their batting lineup being stacked with match winners – players who can clear the fences more frequently, is hard to argue against.
Some of the tournament statistics show just this: the West Indies had the highest dot ball percentage at 43.78%, a number eased by the tournament’s highest boundary percentage with 64.25% (550) of their 856 runs made on 73 fours and 43 sixes.
In other words they were more willing than others to allow more dot balls knowing their ability to hit boundaries frequently enough to chase any total.
In the games shortest format, with only 11 players able to face 120 balls between them, the preservation of wickets is not the most important thing as it is in the longer versions of the gme – Test cricket and ODI’s (One Day Internationals).
Instead it is scoring as many runs as possible, and this is where the deep, experienced West Indian team trumped all their opponents.
The following table shows the statistics for the West Indies compared to the five teams they faced in the tournament before the tournament started (T20 internationals only; no IPL, etc).
It shows that the West Indies players who played in the WT20 had the most experience with 342 innings between them in T20 Internationals.
The 35 total 50s between them was second only to India’s 37, an indicator of the firepower within both teams. Each having six players within their ranks that scored multiple half centuries.
Despite having the most collective innings, the West Indians had scored about 500 less total runs than the batsmen from South Africa and India, but faced about 200 balls less. Crucially, a much higher percentage of their runs were made off boundaries than these two teams – less balls faced but more 4s and 6s.
Sure seems like a winning formula for T20 cricket. But is it sustainable?
Five of the West Indian batsmen who saw time in the tournament had boundary percentages over 60% before the tournament, with eight possessing rates over 55%. Two of the West Indies’ most potent batsmen in this format – Dwayne Smith and Kieran Pollard with career rates over 60%, weren’t even in the team that went to India.
Add in the fact that Carlos Brathwaite had only two innings in T20’s prior to the start of the tournament for two total runs. He now has a 77.97% boundary rate post- tournament.
Of course, it may not always work out, but the chances of at least one having a good day at the crease are too great to ignore and was exactly what happened in this tournament.
The other territories might adapt to the shorter format of the game and lean more on power hitting, but for now most of the big bats of T20 cricket call the Caribbean home.
Data Source: Cricinfo (All calculations were done by SBTN)