With the group stages of this year’s T20 Blast competition coming to an end and the knockout stages set to begin as the eight sides left fight it out for a spot at Finals Day on September 15, we thought it would be a good idea to pick a team of the tournament so far.
Aaron Finch (Surrey)
Strike Rate: 182.35
Taking up one of the two overseas slots is the Australian powerhouse Aaron Finch who has had an excellent tournament with Surrey. Averaging well over 100 and at a strike rate of nearly 180, the 31-year-old has shown exactly why he is the world’s number one ranked T20 batsman with the Victoria native striking two centuries this season against Hampshire and Middlesex (the most in the competition).
Ian Bell (Birmingham)
Strike Rate: 139.08
The veteran stroke maker has bounced back from a poor 2017 Blast campaign which saw him stripped of the captaincy and dropped entirely to end this year’s group stage as the second-highest run scorer. As a 36-year-old with his international career behind him, Bell has adapted well to T20 cricket this year and is proving there is still a place for ‘proper cricket shots’ in the shortest format and even struck 131 in a remarkable drawn game against Northamptonshire.
Joe Denly (Kent)
Strike Rate: 146.66
Coming off the back of an excellent Royal London One Day Cup campaign, Joe Denly has taken his form with both bat and ball into this year’s T20 Blast where he is both Kent’s leading run scorer and leading wicket taker. Denly’s talent with the bat has always been clear to see and was what won him 14 England caps in 2009 but his leg spin has been a revelation this year and his all-round exploits were best summed up when, against Surrey, he became the first man to score a century and take a hat-trick in the same T20 game.
Alex Davies (Lancashire) (WK)
Strike Rate: 134.56
It might be slightly cheating to pick Alex Davies as a wicketkeeper in this side considering Dane Vilas has kept wicket for Lancashire throughout the competition but Davies more than deserves his place. He is an excellent gloveman and has had a wonderful tournament with the bat, being one of just three players to pass the 500-run mark. He has been a stalwart for Lancashire at the top of the order and the 23-year-old is really starting to establish himself in all formats now after a 1,000 run County Championship season last year.
Laurie Evans (Sussex)
Strike Rate: 139.09
As another experienced campaigner in this side, Laurie Evans has held Sussex’s batting lineup together so far in this tournament having scored nearly 200 runs more than the Sharks’ next highest run-scorer. Evans has hit five fifties in 11 innings and had to play a lot of responsible innings with wickets falling around him, proving his ability to play in pressure situations is just as good as his power hitting.
David Willey (Yorkshire)
Strike Rate: 142.96
Coming off the back of his best performances in an England shirt this summer, David Willey has had yet another good Blast campaign. Back up to the top of the order, Willey’s clean hitting has helped propel Yorkshire to the quarter-final stages. Coupled with his excellent left-arm seam, competitive nature and all-action fielding, Willey would be a key part of any T20 team.
Lewis Gregory (Somerset)
Strike Rate: 210.48
As Somerset’s captain, Lewis Gregory has gone to another level. Another clean striker of the ball, Gregory has struck some very important lower order runs at a strike rate of over 200 and is one of Somerset’s leading wicket-takers with the ball. A more than useful cricketer who has contributed in all aspects this season for his county.
Jofra Archer (Sussex)
As one of the most sought-after bowlers in franchise T20 cricket following successful spells in the Big Bash and the IPL with the Hobart Hurricanes and the Rajasthan Royals respectively, there was a lot of pressure on Archer to deliver for Sussex this year and he has done just that. As part of a deadly pace trio alongside England internationals Chris Jordan and Tymal Mills, Archer has taken more wickets than them and shown great skill and pace at the death. The sooner he is England qualified the better.
Rashid Khan (Sussex)
Named in this year’s Wisden as the best T20 player in the world, Rashid Khan is a man in demand and, after working with Sussex coach Jason Gillespie for the victorious Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash, the Sharks were delighted to have been able to lure him to the south coast. With a big reputation, Khan has performed brilliantly on the field, bamboozling the best that county cricket has to offer with his leg spin and thus takes the second and final overseas slot in this side.
Jamie Overton (Somerset)
Somerset have had an excellent T20 Blast campaign so far and a major part of their success has been the performances of Jamie Overton. Overton had to watch from the side-lines as twin Craig made his England debut over the winter thanks to injury but, in the T20 Blast, Jamie has shown why he too is highly rated by England officials. He has an extra yard of pace over his brother and his 90mph exploits have made him Somerset’s leading wicket taker in the Blast this year.
Pat Brown (Worcestershire)
Pat Brown may only be 19-years-old but the Worcestershire seamer has already proven his worth after ending the T20 Blast group stages as the leading wicket taker. Following injuries to first team bowlers such as Joe Leach, Luke Wood and the retirement of Jack Shantry, Worcestershire have been forced to turn to a much younger bowling attack and it has paid dividends with the county topping the North group.