Looking at the performances as well as team selections in the IPL and the T20 internationals, we find a change in trends. Several stalwarts in Tests and ODIs are making their mark and their place in the shortest format of the game, while some T20 misfits are getting better, but the ones, who were just cut out for T20, are on the decline. Is this the end of the T20 specialist? Here are a few examples.
In IPL's Royal Challengers, they started off with a whole lot of misfits (Dravid, Kallis, Chanderpaul, maybe Zaheer, maybe Kumble, possibly Steyn) and were second from bottom in the first edition. Since then, however, they've been in the top three twice, and have often depended a lot on Kallis. He's been a batsman who struggles to score quickly for T20 demands, but has been their lynchpin for the last two seasons. On the other hand, Roelof van der Merwe, who's a T20 specialist, may soon find himself on the "here Are They Now" list sooner than later.
We see Michael Clarke as captain of the Aussie T20I side. This, despite a very unflattering T20 stat sheet. On the other hand, the more prolific Brad Hodge is not even in the final squad. Then there's Chennai Super Kings- they picked Doug Bollinger, whose pre-IPL stats were far from impressive. He ultimately turned it around for the struggling IPL team and they won the IPL. In the same team, Albie Morkel, the most-capped T20 player, is struggling for form. The team that was second-best, Mumbai, dropped Bravo and Sanath for the semis and finals, playing the less-explosive (and less productive) Duminy, and whether it made a difference is a matter of debate.
IPL auctions had included useful T20 players Martin Guptill, Nathan McCullum, Tyron Henderson and Graeme Swann. All of them were left unsold in this year's auction, while lasy season, just Henderson got picked, and for a single game. He sat out the rest of the season, while Quiney, far from ideal in T20, made the cut regularly. And of course, there's Ganguly and Dravid, who've become relevant batsmen for their teams.
So what's the cause of this trend? While the old saying of form and class does hold water, there are several players not cut out for T20 among them who are making it their own. Maybe it's the angle of reliability, as also technique. Most T20 specialist batsmen have been found out against the short ball or the sharp turner. Many of them don't have the temperament to play a long innings. A lot of them may not even have faced quality internationals. The bowlers who seem fit for T20 don't really bowl teams out, but just use a whole lot of tricks to get lucky wickets, or just try to stifle the batsmen for under seven or eight per over. Maybe the Test specialists come equipped with all the tricks needed for T20, as also better basics from Test cricket. Is there a chance for the T20 specialists to turn it around in some time? Or will there be too many left?