Natwest T20 Blast 2014: Picking a Team of the Tournament XI

Chris Bradshaw@@BradshawCDFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2014

Natwest T20 Blast 2014: Picking a Team of the Tournament XI

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    The 2014 Natwest T20 Blast signed off in style on Saturday with the Birmingham Bears pipping Lancashire Lightning to the title.

    This year's competition may have lacked the star power of the Indian Premier League or the Australian Big Bash but there was plenty to enjoy.

    Featuring rising stars, England regulars and gnarled veterans, read on to find out who has made the Team of the Tournament.

Selection Criteria

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    Runs and wickets were the main criteria for entry into the Team of the Tournament XI. The more of both the better.

    This being T20 cricket, the pace of scoring is crucial so dashers got the nod over plodders. The entertainment factor is important, too, so extra emphasis was given to big hitters who could clear the rope. Similarly, miserly bowlers were favoured over the profligate.

    If a player impressed in the field, so much the better. And match-winning efforts got bonus points.

1. Luke Wright (Sussex Sharks)

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    Matches: 14

    Runs: 601 @ 50.08

    Strike rate: 162.43

    England's loss was Sussex's gain as Luke Wright enjoyed an excellent T20 summer. The all-rounder was one of only two batsmen to top the 600-run mark. He was also one of only two batsmen to score two centuries in the competition.

    His astonishing 153 from just 66 balls helped Sussex chase down a world record target of 226 against Essex.

    With a strike rate of 162.43, Wright gave the England selectors a timely reminder of his destructive talents at the top of the order.

2. Jason Roy (Surrey)

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    Matches: 15

    Runs: 677 @ 48.35

    Strike rate: 157.07

    Wickets: 0

    Economy rate: 16

    Who'd have thought that the most destructive South African-born Englishman at the Oval this year wouldn't be Kevin Pietersen?

    Instead it was Jason Roy who took the plaudits with some brutally powerful innings. The 24-year-old smashed nine fifties this season, en route to becoming the competition's leading scorer.

    Seventy-seven fours and 27 sixes in his 15 visits to the middle went a long way to delivering a strike rate of 157.07.

    After a recent call-up to the Lions team, Roy could yet make a late charge for the England World Cup squad.

3. Will Porterfield (Birmingham Bears)

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    Matches: 15

    Runs: 504 @ 36.00

    Strike rate: 142.37

    Will Porterfield may not have the brute power of T20's biggest hitters, but his inventive style makes him tough to bowl at.

    This was most evident on Finals Day where an unbeaten 81 in the semi-final helped Birmingham to victory. Porterfield capped an impressive 2014 campaign with a rapid-fire 31 in the final.

    The Irishman hit 53 fours and 15 sixes this season and passed 50 four times.

4. Ravi Bopara (Essex Eagles)

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    Matches: 13

    Runs: 417 @ 52.12

    Strike rate: 143.29

    Wickets: 11 @ 35

    Economy rate: 7.85

    If England's selectors were looking for a reason to drop Ravi Bopara, it can't have been his T20 form.

    The 29-year-old was a consistent run scorer in the Essex middle-order and passed 50 on three occasions.

    Bopara's bowling has become more than just useful and he added another 11 victims to his name this campaign.

5. Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire Outlaws)

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    Matches: 13

    Runs: 379 @ 31.58

    Strike rate: 130.68

    Wickets: 15 @ 24.68

    Economy Rate: 7.61 rpo

    Top-order batsmen who can chip in with wickets as well as score runs are a valuable commodity in all forms of the game. Samit Patel provided both during a consistent T20 campaign.

    The England all-rounder was Nottinghamshire's leading wicket-taker this season with 15. Throw in 379 runs at a very healthy lick and it was decent return for the 29-year-old.

    England could certainly do worse than taking another look at Patel if conditions suit.

6. Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire Vikings)

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    Matches: 11

    Runs: 355

    Strike Rate: 143.14

    A stunning 102 not out from just 58 balls against Durham was the highlight of Jonny Bairstow's season. The Yorkshireman needed just 18 balls to go from 50 to 100 against a decent Durham attack.

    The wicketkeeper passed 50 on two further occasions and was the leading run scorer for the White Rose county.

7. Darren Stevens (Kent Spitfires)

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    Matches: 14

    Runs: 351 @ 27.00

    Strike Rate: 158.82

    Wickets: 18 @ 19.44

    Economy rate: 7.60

    Darren Stevens remains one of the canniest bowlers in the county game. He put his ample experience to excellent use this campaign, picking up 18 wickets.

    The 38-year-old remains a dangerous hitter at the business end of the innings, too. Stephens passed 50 three times and struck 21 sixes in his 14 innings.

8. Steven Croft (Lancashire Lightning)

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    Matches: 15

    Runs: 268 @ 26.80

    Strike rate: 127.01

    Wickets: 14 @ 20.42

    Economy rate: 6.21

    Steven Croft was an integral part of Lancashire's deep run in this year's T20. The all-rounder was the Red Rose county's most economical bowler in the competition. Helped by a knuckleball-style drifter, Croft picked up 14 wickets with his spinners.

    A dangerous player down the order, Croft provided useful runs when the pressure was on near the end of the innings.

9. Jeetan Patel (Birmingham Bears)

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    Matches: 15

    Runs: 44 @ 14.66

    Strike rate: 162.96

    Wickets: 25 @ 12.96

    Economy rate: 6.11

    When T20 started, the conventional wisdom was that it would be another nail in the proverbial coffin of spin-bowling. How wrong those initial judgements have proved to be.

    The leading wicket-taker in the 2014 T20 was an off-spinner, Jeetan Patel. The New Zealander picked up 25 wickets in his 15 appearances in the competition.

    The 34-year-old had an economy rate that Ebenezer Scrooge would have been proud of, too. He went at a miserly 6.11 runs per over.

10. Junaid Khan (Lancashire Lightning)

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    Matches: 10

    Runs: 9 @ 9

    Striker rate: 100

    Wickets: 14 @ 19

    Economy rate: 6.82 rpo

    Nineteen wickets at an average of just 14 in 10 appearances was a fine effort from Junaid Khan. The left-arm seamer's economy rate of 6.82 runs per over was especially impressive considering he bowled largely at the death.

    A call up the Pakistan Test team curtailed the 24-year-old's T20 Blast. Lancashire certainly missed him on Finals Day.

11. Dirk Nannes (Somerset)

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    Matches: 14

    Runs: 4

    Strike rate: 133.33

    Wickets: 24 @ 15.54

    Economy rate: 8.02 rpo

    The Dutch-Aussie fast-bowler wound back the clock with a string of top performances.

    Still able to crank up the speed gun, the 38-year-old was the leading fast bowler in the 2014 T20 Blast, claiming 24 victims.

    His strike rate was especially impressive, picking up a wicket every 11.6 deliveries.

    A permanent move from the middle to the commentary box will have to wait a little longer.