MCL 2016: Top 5 batsmen from the first season
Brendon McCullum will bow out of international cricket after the second Test against Australia at Christchurch © Getty Images

Masters Champions League (MCL) 2016 was another huge moment in cricket, displaying superstars of yesteryear and giving them an opportunity to stay in the game for a bit longer and the fans to witness their favourite players in action again. It was the first time that so many former retired international cricketers played in a high-profile league. There were six teams in MCL 2016 viz. Libra Legends (LL), Gemini Arabians (GA), Sagittarius Strikers (SS), Virgo Super Kings (VSK), Capricorn Commanders (CC) and Leo Lions (LL). GA won the inaugural season by beating LL in the final by 16 runs. The venues for all the matches were Dubai and Sharjah in UAE. Bhaskar Narayan takes a cursory glance at the top five batsmen who stood out from the rest with some extraordinary batting display.

1. Virender Sehwag: Sehwag was arguably the most lethal batsman of the tournament. He ended with 318 runs at an average of 53 from 7 matches, making him the second highest run-scorer of the tournament after Kumar Sangakkara. Although he missed out on becoming the highest run-getter by a small margin, his strike rate of 183.8 is considerably better to Sangakkara’s 148.5. Sehwag led GA from the front and his blitzkrieg at the top helped the team win the inaugural season of the league. Sehwag smashed a century and two fifties. He carted 17 balls over the ropes, making him top the list for most number of sixes in MCL 2016.

2. Kumar Sangakkara: Sangakkara was the highest run-scorer of the tournament. He accumulated 386 runs for GA at an impressive 64.33 which included 5 half centuries. Sangakkara’s batting reminded everyone of his glory days; the way he dominated the opposition, his nearly flawless timing and that uncanny ability to find gaps and also slog if the situation demanded. He ended up with a strike rate of 148.5.

3. Mahela Jayawardene: Technical brilliance is Jayawardene‘s forte, although he has the ability to slog as well. His near-perfect technique made him one of the finest Test cricketers of his time. In MCL, playing for SS, he exhibited both skills — his classy batting and the ability to score big even without playing too many risky shots. Jayawardene piled up 299 runs from only 6 matches at 49.83 and an amazing strike rate of 162.5.

4. James Franklin: Franklin ended the tournament with an average of 55 from 7 games for LL. His average was second only to Sangakkara’s. He scored 220 runs at a strike rate of 118.3 in the middle-order. Franklin got a few starts but was not able to convert them into big scores. His highest score was an unbeaten 65, which was also his maiden half century for the tournament.

5. Ryan ten Doeschate: ’Tendo’ scored 171 runs averaging 42.75 at 158.33 from only 5 games with a top-score of 67. Unfortunately, ten Doeschate did not receive much support from other LL batsmen, resulting in his team losing all the five games and thereby languishing at the very bottom of the points table.

Honourable Mention:

Brad Hodge: Brad Hodge was one of the unluckiest of his time. He always played under the shadow of many great Australian batters. In MCL, the 41-year-old scored 167 runs from 6 games at 41.75 and a brilliant strike rate of 157.5. He was part of Sehwag’s GA.

(Bhaskar Narayan is a reporter at CricketCountry and Criclife. He passionately follows the game and is a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar. His Twitter handle is @Cricopathy)