Explained: Why Babar and Rizwan weren’t picked up in The Hundred draft, but Shaheen was
The Hundred Draft 2023 draft took place yesterday (March 23) and saw some big names getting ignored, with the most notable being the No.2 and No.3 raked batters in the ICC men’s T20I rankings, Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam. Let’s figure out why.
Babar and Rizwan have been prolific run-scorers in T20 cricket for the last few years. They have managed to crack the consistency code in a format that by design should be hit and miss. But like everything, this has come at a cost—strike rates.
Since the start of 2021, Babar’s strike rate in T20Is has been 125.7, while that in domestic T20 cricket has been 133.1. Rizwan has had pretty similar numbers in this period, with his strike rate in T20Is reading 129.5, and that in domestic T20 competitions reading 132.5.
Their method of scoring truckloads of runs while being risk-averse has worked well for the Pakistan T20I team where their high-quality bowling attack doesn’t need them to score those extra 15-20 runs which other teams might require. But that is a highly customized approach that doesn’t necessarily work in every setup.
Moreover, The Hundred is a slightly different ball game than T20 cricket. Babar and Rizwan take their time in the powerplay, and once set, they accelerate. Their overall strike rates inside the powerplay in all T20 cricket since the start 2021 are 114.49 and 126.01 respectively. The Hundred provides 20 fewer balls per innings, which means 20 fewer balls to accelerate at the end. Naturally, players who can go hard at the top are valued more.
This does not imply that accumulators or anchors have absolutely no role whatsoever in The Hundred. Several high-quality, express pacers (a lot of them incidentally being from Pakistan) including but not limited to Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Ihsanullah, Jofra Archer, Tymal Mills, Adam Milne, and Mark Wood will feature in this edition of The Hundred.
Teams might still want to have one anchor in the squad who can be called upon in scenarios where scoring is tough, be it due to the conditions or the quality of the opposition bowling. While Rizwan and Babar would have been perfect for the anchor/accumulator role, their reserve price of £100,000 did not do them any favours. With several spots already allocated, only three overseas players were picked up for £100k or more. Mitchell Marsh is an all-rounder, Tim David is one of the most destructive players in the world, and Shaheen one of the format’s premier quicks. Ashton Turner’s selection by Manchester Originals might raise eyebrows, but the Old Trafford-based side already had Jos Buttler and Phil Salt in their squad, two of England’s premier T20 openers.
In a format where the big hitters are the most sought-after, splurging 100k for an anchor at the top of the order doesn’t make a lot of sense from the teams’ point of view. Getting a left-arm seamer who can touch 90 mph and play some more than decent cameos with the bat at that price though, is gold dust. Which is why Shaheen was picked in the draft, while Babar and Rizwan weren’t.
The Hundred 2023 Men’s squad list:
👀 The Hundred men's squad list after #TheHundredDraft, Powered by @sageuk
Any early champion predictions? 🏆 pic.twitter.com/nlYXbi9HqO
— The Hundred (@thehundred) March 23, 2023