The Vitality T20 blast is not known as ‘IPL on cocaine’ for no reason: 10 days in, we’re already through 46 games. That’s right, FORTY SIX! Make no mistake, keeping up with this high-octane competition is no mean task, but at SportsCafe we like to push limits. So let’s begin the recap, shall we?
Carlos Brathwaite – 91 runs in 5 inns @ avg 22.75 and SR 154.23; 9 wickets in 5 inns @ ER 7.23
Carlos Brathwaite was not someone who was earmarked to be a show-stealer this season, but in week one of the Blast, the Barbadian all-rounder turned out to be just that. Barring taking four 2-wicket hauls in a row – 3 of which came at an ER under 7.00 – Brathwaite also smacked almost 100 runs in the first 5 games, including a match-winning 18-ball 44 against Nottinghamshire. Making a very late case for a T20I recall? Perhaps.
Chris Woakes – 2 wickets in 2 games @ ER 8.57
Not much to read into Woakes’ performances apart from the fact that he finally got to play not one, but two games of cricket. And yes, Woakes was indeed rested for one of Warwickshire’s fixtures to ‘manage his workload’. Does it make sense? Probably not. But at least he has *some cricket* under his belt before he takes to the field against Sri Lanka in four days’ time.
Jimmy Neesham – 121 runs in 4 inns @ avg 30.25 and SR 161.33; 1 wicket in 4 inns @ ER 9.25
Jimmy Neesham started the 2021 Vitality Blast off in the perfect fashion imaginable – a 53 (25) which helped Essex chase down 186 vs Somerset – but his performances post the initial burst proved to be disappointing. The 53 was followed by scores 28, 21 and 19, and he did not do the greatest of jobs batting at #5. And as far as his bowling goes, welp, let’s not talk about that.
Marnus Labuschagne – 261 runs in 5 inns @ average 61.25 and SR 135.23; 6 wickets in 5 inns @ ER 7.00
If Marnus Labsuschagne does indeed become a great T20 player one day, he’d probably look back on this Vitality Blast campaign as the turning point of his career. Left behind in England only due to logistical complications, Labuschagne, in week one, batted like a man possessed. The Queenslander started the season with scores of 93*, 59 and 74, but most importantly knocked those runs at a SR of 135.23, exceptional numbers for someone performing the role of an anchor. More impressively, he proved that his run with the ball in BBL 10 was no fluke – the leg-spinner bowled at least 3 overs in 3 of the 5 games, and picked a wicket in all but one of the matches.
Glenn Phillips – 131 runs in 4 inns @ avg 32.75 and SR 154.11
There is no worse place to bat in a T20 game than #4, but Glenn Phillips, taking the gloves, not just excelled but proved to be Gloucestershire’s best batsman. In 3 of his 4 knocks Phillips posted over 35, and it was the ineptitude of the other Gloucestershire batsmen that resulted in the side losing half their games. But despite being rock solid, the dynamic Kiwi would be hoping to go big in the games to come, having not posted a fifty in the competition to date.
D’Arcy Short – 104 runs in 4 innings @ avg 26.00 and SR 142.46
By his own high standards, D’Arcy Short had a hideous BBL season – 345 runs @ 24.64 – but while improving on those numbers in week one of the Vitality Blast, the southpaw’s performances left a lot to be desired. Short failed to convert each of his three starts and was at the heart of a Hampshire batting unit that collectively under-performed.
James Vince – 124 runs in 4 innings @ avg 31.00 and SR 124.00
James Vince, erm, had the most James Vince week you could think of. 34, 23, 36 and 31 was what he managed in his four innings, almost voluntarily keeping the memes alive by refusing to post a big score. We cannot comment how he looked as we did not watch him bat, but chances are that he probably, like he always does, looked like a million bucks before inevitably throwing his wicket away.
Sam Billings – 44 runs in 2 innings @ average 22.00 and SR 97.77
Sam Billings batted like a man who’d spent two weeks inside a confined bubble as a reserve. Ironically, though, the run-a-ball 30 he scored against Glamorgan proved to be the difference between the two sides. Let’s cut him some slack – he’s still in Test mode.
Finn Allen – 137 runs in 5 inns @ average 34.25 and SR 144.21
One half of the most exciting opening pair in the competition, Finn Allen was…..uncharacteristically slow? The youngster started his Vitality Blast campaign in trademark blitzy fashion, scoring 29 off 13, but none of his next four knocks saw him strike at more than 145. There was a match-winning 73* against Leicestershire, but the RCB man did not quite hit his groove after the blistering start.
Liam Livingstone – 254 runs in 5 inns @ average 63.50 and SR 141.89; 3 wickets in 5 inns @ ER 6.75
Lancashire’s MVP of the season, Livingstone, in week one, made a case for why he should be in England’s T20 side. The right-hander contributed with both bat and ball in every single game and his scores, thus far, read 94*, 25, 25, 45 and 65. He would also be chuffed with his numbers on the bowling front. Livingstone’s ability to bowl handy spin gives him a slight, natural edge over other contenders, and thus 3 wickets in 5 inns @ ER 6.75 are returns that would excite the selectors.
Jos Buttler – 127 runs in 5 innings @ average 25.40 and SR 123.30
Lancashire weren’t expecting to be 5th in their group with 3 wins when they knew Jos Buttler was going to be available for the first six games. The right-hander started his Vitality Blast campaign off with a scratchy 30 against Derbyshire, and never really found any rhythm batting at #4. The 55 he struck against Worcestershire came off 47 balls and, tellingly, he finished his mini-run off with a duck. Of all people, the Sri Lanka T20Is will be of huge significance for Buttler.
Josh Inglis – 155 runs @ average 31.00 and SR 193.75
That strike rate says it all. Earmarked by Ponting as a potential WT20 bolter, the Aussie selectors perhaps did the wise thing by not calling Inglis up for the Windies T20Is. The right-hander’s 32-ball 87 against Yorkshire proved to be one of the best knocks in week one, and you’d imagine that he’ll only grow from strength to strength as the season progresses. Certainly it seems that a national call-up for this dynamic batsman is imminent.
Eoin Morgan – 133 runs in 5 innings @ average 26.60 and SR 129.12
Morgan’s numbers in week one of Vitality Blast were a significant upgrade on his IPL showing, but by no means did the England skipper set the stage on fire. Batting at 3 and 4, Morgan played blistering cameos against Gloucestershire and Surrey, but his inability to post the big score resulted in Middlesex losing 4 of their 5 matches. Like Buttler, the Sri Lanka T20Is will prove to be crucial for Morgan, who is in desperate need of some big runs.
Tom Banton – 28 runs in 3 innings @ average 9.33 and SR 155.55
What has happened to Tom Banton in T20 cricket? No one quite knows. Since tearing the Blast apart in 2019, he’s struggled immeasurably – in 19 T20s (non International) since the start of 2020, Banton has averaged 15.1, scoring just two fifties. 18, 1 and 9 have read his scores in the ongoing Blast thus far, and he’s looked a shadow of the batsman who not too long ago put the fear of god in bowlers. Perhaps we can assert with confidence now that his hopes of playing in the WT20 2021 are all but over.
Travis Head – 52 runs in 3 innings @ average 17.33 and SR 133.33
Forget his Vitality Blast numbers, let’s just traverse through his scores since he landed in England. 9, 8, 20, 1, 0, 14, 18, 20, 2, 23, 27. Alright, Travis Head simply cannot catch a break. Somebody book the poor chap a flight back to South Australia, please!
Chris Jordan – 3 wickets in 4 innings @ ER 7.61
Both Jordan and England would like to see a higher figure in the wickets column – this has been an issue for a while now – but the two parties would be content with his economy rate, which was close to 12 the last time he donned an English shirt.
Moeen Ali – 106 runs in 4 inns @ average 26.50 and SR 145.20; 4 wickets in 4 inns @ ER 6.46
On a personal standpoint, it was vitally important for Moeen Ali to back his IPL showing up with a good display in the Blast and he did just that. Not just with the bat, but also with the ball, consistently proving to be the most economical bowler for his side. There can now be no justification for England leaving Mo out of the Sri Lanka T20Is.
Ish Sodhi – 2 wickets in 4 innings @ ER 8.25
For three matches, Ish Sodhi was doing perfectly alright. 1/27, 1/22 and 0/30 read his figures and him being parsimonious helped Worcestershire stay unbeaten. But then he ran into Jonny Bairstow. The result? 0/53 off 4 overs; Sodhi’s figures for the season getting ruined.
Jonny Bairstow – 295 runs in 4 innings @ average 73.75 and 175.59
Oh, it was not just Ish Sodhi that Jonny Bairstow’s willow murdered. Looking at those numbers, you could probably figure out yourself that he did not spare any bowler. And yes, to date he is the highest run-getter in the 2021 Vitality T20 Blast.
Dawid Malan – 41 runs in 4 innings @ average 10.25 and SR 105.12
Scores of 23, 10, 6 and 2 in T20s succeeding a marathon 199 against Sussex in red-ball cricket. Is Dawid Malan back to being a Test specialist? Decide for yourself.
Adil Rashid – 4 wickets in 4 inns @ ER 7.12
In a game in which Yorkshire bowled out Worcestershire for 122, Rashid leaked runs at 8 an over and picked 3 wickets. In other words, Rashid has been doing Rashid things in the Vitality Blast thus far.
Lockie Ferguson – 6 wickets in 4 inns @ ER 7.44
It should be illegal to have Bairstow, Malan, Rashid and Lockie Ferguson in the same side, but that’s a conversation for later. But the speedster was flawless in the first week of the Blast. Ferguson picked at least one wicket in every match, conceding over 8.00 runs an over in none of the four matches. At least Yorkshire are not as naive as KKR to let him rot in the bench.