Should Chennai bench Dwayne Bravo in the next Indian T20 League season?
Dwayne Bravo is a T20 player like no other. He has played for 21 teams and 12 different tournaments in his T20 career. He is three wickets shy of picking up a stunning 500 T20 wickets. Soak that in. Whip up some coffee, drink, ponder, drink, ponder and soak that in again. 500 T20 wickets.
Wasn't it yesterday that this format was created and somebody already has more wickets than Wasim Akram and Kapil Dev have managed in Test cricket? Bravo is obviously the highest wicket-taker in the format's history. The next best, Lasith Malinga, has 107 wickets lesser than him.
As we speak of Chennai, it is safe to say they love legends. Their team has MS Dhoni, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson and Suresh Raina aside from Bravo who have been international skippers for their respective teams. They love experience, and they thrive on this virtue and have won three Indian T20 League titles - not to forget they have the best win percentage in the league's history.
Yet, it might just be time for Chennai to move on from Bravo. The West Indian has been a no-brainer in Chennai's starting XI whenever he has been available. From the inception of T20 cricket to 2018, Bravo picked up a whopping 403 wickets at an average of 23.49, an economy of just above 8, and a strike rate of 17.4. He also had 37 hauls of three wickets or more in this period.
Easily the topper in terms of wickets, Bravo's stocks as a bowler have fallen in the last two years. Since 2018, the Windies all-rounder has 94 wickets in 89 T20s. The average is nearly touching 30 and the strike rate is 20. He has 30 hauls of zero wickets in the 86 innings he has bowled, equating to wicketless spells more than 1/3rd of the times.
Bravo's death bowling hasn't been that effective either. On the other hand, his batting, another utility factor, hasn't quite clicked in sync. In the 2019 Indian T20 League season, Bravo averaged 16 with the bat and picked just 11 wickets while conceding runs in the higher range of eight.
Chennai's foreign options have also multplied in the auctions. They purchased Sam Curran, a like-for-like replacement for Bravo, although the death bowling skills are different. They also have Lungi Ngidi and Josh Hazlewood in the ranks to cover up for the pace he offers. If playing an additional spin bowler is feasible, Mitchell Santner is also waiting on the bench.
Ngidi, in particular, is a very desirable option if you negate Bravo's batting. His death bowling has picked up by leaps and bounds and his skills are outstanding and varied. If Chennai need someone to pick wickets and control the run rate, Ngidi, with his varied skillsets, offers better depth in the bowling department.
Given Bravo's history, it is unlikely that Chennai will take the bold route but this is perhaps one area that could strengthen them further rather than deflate them.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Arun Sankar