How GOATs of IPL Were Picked
Left to Right: Lasith Malinga, MS Dhoni and Andre Russell

COVID-19 has thrown the entire sporting world into disarray! The glamorous VIVO IPL in 2020, which was scheduled to kick-off on March 29, has now been indefinitely postponed by the BCCI.

In a bid to keep fans engaged with their favourite legends across the globe, Star Sports strung together a mammoth activity that brought the entire cricket community together. Right from the legends of the game, senior sports journalists around the globe, broadcasters, statisticians, analysts, anchors the cr me de la cr me united under one roof to pick the Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T) from among batsmen, bowlers, all-rounders, coach and captain. It was fitting enough that the results were announced at a gala episode of Cricket Connected on the IPL’s 13th birthday on April 18th.

G.O.A.T Selection Process:

To ensure complete transparency, what followed next was a stringent selection procedure:

An elite jury that comprised 50 members which included former cricketers (20), senior sports journalists (10), statisticians and analysts (10), broadcasters (7), anchors (3) and analysts

Each jury member selected from among a list of players from the five categories

The shortlists were arrived at after the jury members were given a list of ten names for the three player categories and six each for captain and coach.

They then picked their top fives for the batsmen, bowlers, and allrounders, and top threes for captain and coach.

Following the selections, a shortlist of three names based on the 50-member jury’s votes was then deliberated upon by Gautam Gambhir, Kevin Pietersen, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan and Danny Morrison, who picked the winners.

Here’s a deeper look at the nominees from each category and what makes each of them the GOAT:

BATSMEN: Decorated willow wielders such as Sunrisers Hyderabad’s lethal opener David Warner, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s ‘Mr. 360’ AB de Villiers and his captain Virat Kohli, Kings XI Punjab’s ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle, Chennai Super Kings trio of ‘Captain Cool’ MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Shane Watson, Mumbai Indians’ finisher Kieron Pollard and Delhi Capitals’ former captain Virender Sehwag summed up an illustrious list of nominees among batsmen.

Warner’s intimidating presence on top makes him one of the most dangerous openers and he’s proved his credentials in the IPL. He won the Orange Cap thrice and his 4706 runs are unmatched by any overseas cricketer. Besides, his stunning average of 43.17 is among the best in the competition, and it soars even higher to a staggering 55.44 for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. He led SRH to the 2016 IPL title, scoring 848 runs at 60.57 that season. While the Australian did emerge as the frontrunner in the category, he was unable to surpass veteran South Africa ABD.

The swashbuckling flamboyant batsman, primarily a middle-order batsman, arguably the toughest position to bat in a T20 match, has notched up 4395 runs in the league at an average of nearly 40 and a strike rate of 151.23. His records in the VIVO IPL include five 100+ partnerships and two 200+ partnerships with captain Kohli along with three centuries to his own name. Even at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, ‘Superman’ as he’s termed along with the several other sobriquets for his super-human batting traits, would erupt with a huge roar as they awaited a blistering performance from RCB’s most flamboyant player. His ability to switch from classical batting to breath-taking innovative strokes along with his consistent performance makes him the clear winner.

BOWLERS: Mumbai Indians’ pace battery of Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah, Royal Challengers Bangalore fast bowler Dale Steyn and leggie Yuzvendra Chahal, SRH pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, CSK trio of Ashish Nehra, Imran Tahir and Ravichandran Ashwin, KKR mystery spinner Sunil Narine and Delhi Capitals leg-spinner Amit Mishra formed an impressive pool of bowlers that had an eclectic mix of pace and spin. While wrist-spinners have been dominating the T20 format for a while now due to their ability of picking up wickets at regular intervals without worrying too much about the runs conceded, it was ‘Slinga’ Malinga, the leading wicket-taker in IPL history with 170 scalps to his name in 122 matches, who walked away comfortably with the epithet.

Among the key contenders was Narine, one of the key architects in KKR’s two title triumphs in 2012 and 2014, was in the fray, specially after bowling an astonishing 1051 dot balls in the IPL so far. Another was CSK off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, whose 13 wickets at an economy rate of 6.10 stood out in the Yellow Army’s maiden title win in 2010. Under MSD, Ashwin became a strike weapon, specially in the Powerplays and later in the death overs. However, despite their own individual feats, they were unable to surpass the Sri Lankan pace gun Malinga, still going strong at 36, who has left a lasting impression at the Wankhede den. Remembered the IPL 2019 final? Do we need to say more?

ALL-ROUNDERS: Serial T20 mercenary, KKR’s Andre Russell, Jacques Kallis and Yusuf Pathan, CSK stars Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja, Mumbai Indians’ finishers Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya and SRH’s bombastic Yusuf Pathan formed a power-packed package of all-rounders in the nominee list. Dre Russ’ destructiveness has seen him win the Player-of-the-Tournament prize in IPL 2015 and 2019. The Jamaican has this exceptional ability to smash sixes at any point that stands out: Russell is 52nd on the T20 run-scoring charts but is already in fifth spot on the most sixes list. His strike rate of 171.29 is by far the the highest by a distance among batsmen with over 1000 T20 runs.

However, despite his on-field shenanigans, Russell missed to edge Watson in the closely-contest race. Having featured in 134 IPL games so far, the 38-year-old Australian batting all-rounder has amassed 3,575 runs at a strike-rate of 139.53. Having battled fitness issues, Watson has been key to Chennai Super Kings’ resurgence in the last two seasons after two years of suspension. He was the player of the match in the 2018 final, as he slammed a ton against Sunrisers Hyderabad. In the 2019 final, he nearly carried CSK to another title, despite suffering from a bloodied knee.

CAPTAIN: CSK leader MS Dhoni, the only captain to win more than a 100 IPL matches, Rohit Sharma, who led Mumbai Indians to a record 4 IPL titles, Gautam Gambhir, under whom KKR clinched the crown in 2012 and 2014, Shane Warne (led Rajasthan Royals to the inaugural title in 2008), Adam Gilchrist (led Deccan Chargers to IPL glory in 2009) and David Warner (Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2016) were zeroed in as the nominees for captain.

The battle came down stiff competition between Dhoni (As captain: M 174, Wins 104, Losses 69, Win% 60.11) and Rohit (As captain: M 104, Wins 60, Losses 42, Win% 58.65). In the end, it was MSD, who pipped Rohit by the slimmest of margins. Dhoni led CSK into the final four each time (they were suspended for two years, in 2016 and 2017], and lifted the trophy three times.

COACH: CSK head coach Stephen Fleming, former KKR mastermind Trevor Bayliss, MI coach Mahela Jayawardene, ex-SRH coach Tom Moody, Rajasthan Royals captain and coach Shane Warne and then coach Rahul Dravid combined to form the pool of nominees.

After representing CSK as a player in 2008, Fleming has been their head coach right thought, forming a lethal leadership combo with Dhoni. The duo masterminded three title runs. The Blackcaps star was also coach at Rising Pune Supergiant when they made the final in 2017 during Super Kings’ suspension years.

Before he joined the England men’s team, Trevor Bayliss enjoyed a fruitful stint at Kolkata Knight Riders and they won two titles under him, with Gambhir as captain.

Mumbai Indians have tried a number of coaches over the years. Robin Singh and John Wright have had productive stints, but with two title wins in three seasons in charge, Jayawardene has been a standout.

Considering the longevity Fleming he has had and the kind of players he has worked with, especially the old guard, Fleming comfortably walked away with as the GOAT, much to the delight of the CSK faithful.

Following a successful exercise by the experts, the GOATs were then extended to the fan groups. And the popular choice awards revealed some interesting winners. While ABD bagged the title among batsmen, it was his RCB captain Virat Kohli, who emerged as the GOAT batsman according to fans. Kohli received 40% of the total 4437 votes. The South African was a close 2nd with 35% votes.

Fans and the jury concurred with Malinga as the unanimous choice bowlers, who garnered 48% votes. He received 2065 votes in all. While Watson emerged victorious among the jury, it was ‘Muscle Russell’ Andre Russell who won 53% votes. Watson was a distant second with 26% votes.

CSK masterminds Stephen Fleming and Dhoni, both bagged fans’ votes in the coach and captain categories. Fleming won with an overwhelming 73% votes, while Jayawardene garnered 20% off the total 1775 that were received for this category. MSD dominated this poll with 71% of the fans voting for their ‘Captain Cool’. Rohit Sharma claimed a distant second position with 23% of the votes. A total of 20,231 votes were received for this category.