The Winners of the IPL
We all want to know what it’s like to hit an unacademy cracking six don’t we? The IPL is nearly upon us and rather nicely it will coincide with the start of the County Championship! So as I did with the CC I will be looking through the English players and seeing who could really stake a claim for a place in the world cup squad later this year, as well as those who could nail down their spot in the side. Eoin Morgan and Ed Smith have been very open in their admiration of the IPL and we need look no further than Sam Curran last year who had a stellar IPL and is now seemingly a key part of England's T20i side. A good IPL does alot for a players reputation and their chances of getting selected for England so who needs a stellar tournament this year?
Stokes is a peculiar one. For starters I am not convinced by Ben Stokes the T20 middle order finisher nor am I a subscriber to the fact that we should play Ben Stokes purely for being Ben Stokes. Stokes has had all of his T20 success up the top of the order and if we’re honest it makes perfect sense. Stokes needs a few balls to see his eye in and then well he can explode. If Stokes wants to really make that number 5 spot his own for me he has to bat their during the IPL. Say Stokes has a good series numbers wise and learns the role and begins to score quicker then this will be huge for England. Not only does he offer balance to the side he is also one of the worlds most destructive batsmen when he gets going. His knock in the 4th T20i against India showed just why England keep Ben Stokes about and if he can pull off that with a 150+ SR on a more consistent basis then Ben Stokes has the ability to win England a world cup.
The number 1 ranked T20i batsmen in the world is the talk of the town at the minute. Malan had an odd series against India which raised up the conversation about the issues with Malan as a batsman. In the first game he played his part in controlling a fairly simple run chase and making sure England didn’t stumble along the way. Then in the 2nd and 4th T20i Malan was dismissed by a leg spinner. Both times he looked frenetic and a bit anxious to get scoring, something which you wouldn’t often associate with Malan. In the final game he made a very good start before slowing down following the dismissal of Jos Buttler. Overall he finished with the lowest strike rate of any batsmen to score more than 15 runs and the eyebrows were raised. Malan will be playing for Kings Xi but also he won’t be. A solid top 4 of Rahul, Agarwal, Gayle and Pooran might be the hardest to break into for any side in the tournament. Malan will have to pray for an injury or bad form to get into the side and he will also need a solid run of games in which he shows he can accelerate on slower lower wickets to really convince his doubters of his spot in this England T20i side. But just a season out there working with some of the coaches available to him and talking batting with the likes of KL and Gayle (the latter being someone who has a very similar approach to Malan in T20s) will do wonders for Malan. It will certainly be interesting to see how Malan handles the pressure of the IPL and to see how it improves his game.
Sam Billings: When speaking of horses for courses I believe it’s safe to say Sam Billings is almost the definition. Billings is one of England's best players of spin and in my opinion one of England's best players in the shortest format. Billings really does have the ability to either anchor an innings or carry on the quick scoring that has come before him. But nevertheless Billings quality against spin makes him a good squad player heading into the world cup regardless of his IPL form. Billings is contracted to Delhi Capitals and I can definitely see him getting a solid run of games considering how much they paid for him and the makeup of their side. Billings had never truly cracked cricket for England until last summer in which he was all over the ODI side and was probably England's best batsmen. Similarly to Malan Billings will get nothing but benefit from netting with Dehli and the likes of Ricky Ponting in particular. If Billings can have a solid tournament doing the same role as he did for the Sydney Thunder being a sort of anchor but also scoring at a good rate then I think there would be no surprises if he’s batting at 4 come the world cup.
Moeen Ali: This really is a make or break tournament for Moeen. Under the guidance of Ms Dhoni at CSK Moeen has the chance to really show Morgan what he can offer and primarily with the bat. The dynamic between him and Sam Curran will be an interesting one as both are probably battling it out for the number 7 spot in the upcoming edition of the tournament. England are admittedly light on spin options and Moeen is undoubtedly the 2nd spinner but if his batting kicks on, especially down the order, Moeen can almost certainly wrestle his way back into the side. Moeen is someone who does have the ability to hit from ball 1 especially against spin bowling and he can not only be a good finisher but also a match rescuer and winner. If England get a full flowing free swinging Moeen in their side it will be a great addition to the dynamic of the team. With the ball it’s another story. At his worst Moeen offers a viable option for certain matchups or the occasional 1 over in the power play. But at his best Moeen can offer a truly solid spin option for England and if the pitch suits it he can win them a game as well as offer a greater balance to the side. As I said this tournament is make or break for Moeen and let’s be honest no matter what you think of the player seeing a Moeen cover drive for 6 to win England the world cup is something that every England fan dreams of.
Liam Livingstone: Liam Livingstone is someone who a lot of England fans are desperate to see represent his country in the shortest format. Arguably England's purest power hitter Livingstone is someone who can offer a real all round option for the 3 lions come the world cup. Livingstone is currently signed to Rajasthan Royals and at first he was almost a certain bench warmer but now with Jofra Archer missing the tournament and fitness issues over Chris Morris Livingstone has a real opportunity to get a good run of games. Now for Livingstone to truly make a stake for England contention he would have to bat in the middle order and offer a somewhat decent bowling option. But this is entirely possible and say Livingstone was to perform as a middle order finisher, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play in some games come the summer.
So there we have it, my potential winners of the IPL 2021. Do you agree? Let me know on Twitter @therunoutblog1