Ben Jones looks at how the Oval Invincibles performed on draft-day, and how their squad is shaping up.
Squad: Sam Curran, Rory Burns, Sunil Narine, Jason Roy, Sam Billings, Tom Curran, Saqib Mahmood, Sandeep Lamichhane, Colin Ingram, Reece Topley, Will Jacks, Laurie Evans, Brandon Glover, Jordan Clark, Nathan Sowter, Alex Blake
Draft Activity: Saqib Mahmood (60k), Colin Ingram (48k), Brandon Glover (32k), Jordan Clark (32k)
Despite only having four picks in the draft, Oval Invincibles arguably had the best day of any team. The arrival of England seamer Saqib Mahmood was a coup for Tom Moody’s side, with many expecting him to have been snapped up earlier in the draft. The left-handed South African Colin Ingram is arguably an upgrade on Rilee Rossouw (who they took in the initial draft). At the 32k mark Jordan Clark offers useful all-round skills as backup, while Brandon Glover – former SA U19 seamer – slots into the ranks as a domestic seamer, due to his Associate status with the Netherlands.
The Invincibles have built a batting order of complimentary skills. Jason Roy, Laurie Evans and Will Jacks are all strong against pace, each striking at above 145; Sunil Narine, Sam Billings, Colin Ingram and Sam Curran are strong against spin. The mix of right-handers and left-handers only adds to this, making them a difficult order to plan for from an opposition point of view; in a white ball landscape dominated by matchups, this has huge value.
The first draft saw Oval take Sunil Narine and Sandeep Lamichhane, without doubt one of the strongest spin attacks in the competition. Their skillsets dovetail perfectly: Narine’s career economy of 6.1rpo is among the best ever, while Lamichhane’s strike rate of a wicket every 17 deliveries is the second best ever for a spinner with 100 T20 wickets. One attacks, one defends – they should work very well in tandem.
The arrival of Mahmood strengthens an already solid domestic pace attack. Reece Topley, post recovery from serious injury, has been excellent, and offers high release and a left-arm angle; his economy rate at the death in recent seasons, 8.4rpo, is superb. Tom Curran’s variations are well known to any T20 fan, or England fan for that matter, and he’ll bring experience of the home venue along with his substantial T20 returns. Mahmood himself is the final piece in the puzzle, offering high pace and new ball swing. As a trio, they round out the side very nicely – when Sam Curran is around, it’s a serious fight for selection.
Availability is not a huge issue for the Oval side, given that their Test player, Rory Burns, would not be in contention for a place regardless of whether he’s selected or not. Sam Curran is likely to be in and out of the England side so can’t be relied upon fully, but other than that, it would be a big surprise were Oval to not have their full complement of England stars available for the entire season.
The Invincibles do lack an elite finishing option with the bat. Blake is an effective Blast hitter (death strike rate of 171 last three seasons), but is unproven outside of the Blast, and while Ingram, Billings, and Evans are all capable of stepping through the gears, they aren’t batsmen used to hitting out from ball one. Will Jacks is well suited to the role but has been used up the order by T20 sides more recently.
There are also plenty of issues around Narine. His action issues are ongoing, and the danger of him being called for “chucking” is ever-present for any side who opt to take him. What’s more, his batting – once good enough to make him the T20 MVP – has fallen away, making his batting role slightly less clear. An opening role is still the most likely, but his consistency will be a concern for Oval coaches.
Potential XI: Narine, Roy, Ingram, Jacks, Evans, Billings +, Blake, T Curran, Saqib, Topley, Sandeep
Ben Jones is an analyst at CricViz.