As the IPL enters its eleventh season, the anticipation and excitement around the world’s richest and biggest T20 tournament has rarely changed since its inception in 2008. However, what has changed is the number of English players participating in the tournament. After initially being cold towards the IPL, England now embrace it and have 11 players playing in this year’s competition.
Yet, how will they fare? Here are the strengths and weaknesses of England’s IPL contingent.
Ben Stokes (Rajasthan Royals)
Strengths: A powerful middle-order batsman who, on his day, is capable of causing serious damage and playing match-winning innings. Also bowls four overs at good pace and has experience of bowling at the death. In addition, the all-rounder is outstanding in the field. Adds excellent balance to any side.
Weaknesses: Fitness. Stokes was unable to bowl properly during England’s recent Test series in New Zealand and his heavy workload usually catches up on his, despite missing a large chunk of the winter through suspension.
Jos Buttler (Rajasthan Royals)
Strengths: Superb, clean striker of the ball who, like Stokes, can change the course of a game very quickly. He does not take long to get going either, boasting a strike rate of 142.7 off his first ten balls faced (since IPL 2015). His excellent wicket-keeping adds further balance to any side.
Weaknesses: Has proven to be a very hit and miss batsman in recent times. Is susceptible to departing early on due to his attacking instincts that don’t always come off. Doesn’t have the greatest recent form behind him.
Jason Roy (Delhi Daredevils)
Strengths: Has made a reputation for getting his sides off to a flyer. Not afraid to play attacking shots early on and his impressive T20 strike rate of 144 proves that. Has the ability to score runs all around the ground and looks graceful when doing so.
Weaknesses: Has indifferent form behind him. He failed to pass fifty once in New Zealand and has struggled to find rhythm since his sparkling 180 against Australia at the MCG.
Liam Plunkett (Delhi Daredevils)
Strengths: Very effective in the middle overs with his variations. Has an excellent, sharp bouncer followed by canny slower balls which has led England’s bowling improvement over the past year in white-ball cricket. Also a handy batsman with the ability to hit the ball a very long way. Has occasionally been pushed up the order as a pinch hitter for England as a result.
Weaknesses: Has had problems with injury in the past and struggles to stay consistently fit. Can occasionally be expensive with the ball also.
Chris Woakes (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Strengths: Excellent versatility with the ball. Able to bowl effectively in the powerplay and has vastly improved his death bowling in the recent years. Also a good batsman capable of batting in the top seven. An impressive all-round cricketer.
Weaknesses: Like Plunkett, can be wayward and has been hit around the park a few times before, especially with the new ball. Perhaps some more work to do on his changes of pace.
Moeen Ali (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Strengths: All-round capabilities. Able to bat anywhere in the top seven and can cause serious damage when he gets going. With his off-spin, Moeen more often than not keeps things tight, boasting an impressive T20 economy of 7.38. Adds good balance and versatility to any side.
Weaknesses: Has poor form behind him after a torrid winter for England. Failed to pass fifty once throughout the tours of Australia and New Zealand. Also, his orthodox off-spin is easy to pick and is likely to be targeted by opposition batsmen.
Alex Hales (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Strengths: Like his England opening partner Roy, Hales’s terrific ball-striking ability at the top of the order can get his team off to a fast start. Can be very destructive when he gets going and has played some sparkling white-ball knocks in the past. Boasts a very good strike rate of 143.54.
Weaknesses: Like serveral others – form. He passed fifty only twice in eight ODI innings against Australia and New Zealand and has failed to nail down a place in England’s limited overs side. Also unproven in India, which is a concern.
Chris Jordan (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Strengths: Excellent at the death with his fast, skiddy yorkers and his change of pace. Has a knack of taking wickets at key times (one every 19 balls in T20 cricket) and is reliable in the mid to latter overs. Useful with the bat and can provide impetus towards the end of an innings. Also an outstanding fielder.
Weaknesses: Has proven to be very wayward at times, especially with the new ball. He, therefore, lacks versatility in terms of when he can bowl. Used to be a go-to bowler for England in white-ball cricket but poor form has kept him out the side.
Mark Wood (Chennai Super Kings)
Strengths: Quick and capable of making life uncomfortable for batsmen with his sharp, skiddy deliveries. Able to bowl anytime across the innings but has mostly been used with the new ball.
Weaknesses: Has an indifferent T20 record with only 20 wickets from 19 matches. Also has a worrying economy rate of just under nine and can go round the park at times. Doesn’t offer much with the bat.
David Willey (Chennai Super Kings)
Strengths: Very good with the new ball and can swing it both ways. Also an extremely useful player with the bat in the T20 format due to his ability to play any position and the rate at which he scores. Seen as most effective as a pinch-hitter at the top of the innings.
Weaknesses: Does not have pace on his side and his 130 kph (avg) deliveries are little trouble for batsmen if the ball does not swing. Despite his impressive batting strike rate of 142.55 in T20’s, an average of 23.30 points towards a lack of consistency, especially when opening.
Tom Curran (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Strengths: Very useful in the middle overs and at the end of an innings, particularly. In addition to his versatility, Curran has excellent changeups, including a deceiving slower ball and a sharp bouncer. Also has some ability with the bat.
Weaknesses: Lacks genuine pace and can prove to be expensive with the new ball. A T20 career economy is not bad but could certainly be improved on. Also still very young and does not boast much experience in pressure situations, unlike the man he replaced, Mitchell Starc.