With the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup around the corner, Australia legend Mark Waugh has joined the long list of former greats to choose the first five players they would pick in a World T20I XI.
Known for his aggression at the top of the order and his electric fielding both in the infield and the slip cordon, Waugh made 8500 ODI runs, and was a member of Australia’s 1999 Cricket World Cup-winning squad.
A gifted white-ball cricketer, the all-rounder would have likely lit up the T20 world should he have played in the modern era.
Speaking in the build-up to the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia, Waugh stressed his list was in no particular order, but looked to the bowlers in the quintet first.
1. Jasprit Bumrah - ICC T20I Bowling Ranking: 45th
While rested for the recent T20I series, Waugh believes India ace Jasprit Bumrah will no doubt fire at the tournament Down Under.
“I think he's a fantastic bowler in all formats, actually,” Waugh began, praising the quick’s versatility.
"His ability to get wickets in T20 cricket is key. He can bowl at the death and he can bowl up front.”
2. Shaheen Afridi - ICC T20I Bowling Ranking: 19th
“To open the bowling at the other end we'll go with another great opening bowler, Shaheen Afridi from Pakistan, who is a tremendous left-arm fast bowler," Waugh said.
"He's a wicket-taker. He sort of lifts the team. He's a guy that other players follow.
“He is a left-armer so that’s another point of difference. He can swing the ball back into the right-hander, he’s quick as well, so I’ve got him number two.”
3. Rashid Khan - ICC T20I Bowling Ranking: 4th
Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who is known for his consistency, was another one of Waugh's picks.
“In all competitions he plays in, he’s just the one guy who you know is going to bowl four overs," Waugh noted.
“He’ll probably get two or three wickets and go for 20 runs, and he can bat. He can also whack the ball over the fence.”
4. Jos Buttler - ICC T20I Batting Ranking: 15th
In a rich vein of batting form, the Englishman's exploits at the top of the order in both domestic and international cricket were too good for Waugh to ignore.
“I think he's probably the number one batsman in world cricket in the T20 format. He's just a clean striker of the ball," Waugh said.
“We've seen him in all tournaments, he just looks on a different level to other players.”
5. Glenn Maxwell - ICC T20I Batting Ranking: 29th / ICC T20I All-Rounder Ranking: 6th
In selecting an all-rounder, Waugh push forward the case of compatriot Glenn Maxwell.
"Glenn Maxwell is the sort of player that can win you a game in the field and with the bat," Waugh said.
“With the ball, he's probably underrated. And I think if he bats 30 balls, he'll win you the game.
"So I think Maxwell, even though he's just not a consistent player, he's that X-factor that can win your game on any given day.”
Many of Waugh's selections mirror what fellow former greats Ricky Ponting, Shane Watson and Mahela Jayawardena chose when they were asked to provide the five players they would choose in a World T20 XI on The ICC Review.
Ponting had three of the same players that Waugh chose, with India superstar Hardik Pandya and Pakistan skipper Babar Azam the two other players the former Australia captain plumped for.
Fellow Australian Watson only had two players the same as Waugh, with the former all-rounder also including Babar, Suryakumar Yadav and David Warner in his five.
Jayawardena had four players the same as Waugh in his top five, with Pakistan opener Mohammad Rizwan his only point of difference.
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