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Feature

Luke Wright captains ESPNcricinfo's all-time T20 Blast XI

Our expert panel make their picks ahead of the 20th season of English domestic T20

Dan Christian lifts the T20 Blast trophy, Birmingham v Nottinghamshire, NatWest Blast final, Edgbaston, September 2, 2017

Dan Christian lifts the T20 Blast trophy  •  Getty Images

Ahead of the 20th season of domestic T20 cricket in England and Wales, ESPNcricinfo assembled a panel of 16 experts who have covered the tournament for the site in one of its many guises to select an all-time XI based on performances from 2003-21.
1. Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire)
141 matches, 3985 runs at 30.41, 150.77 strike rate
Winner in 2017 and 2020
13 votes
Hales has been among the Blast's most destructive batters for more than a decade, earning his first England call-up on the back of his T20 form for Notts in 2011. He is the club's all-time leading run-scorer in the format and is the only man in the top 50 run-scorers in the Blast's history with a strike rate above 150 in the tournament.
2. Luke Wright (Sussex, captain)
172 matches, 4868 runs at 33.57, 149.18 SR
43 wickets at 28.00, 7.99 economy rate
Winner in 2009
14 votes
The Blast's all-time leading run-scorer and the captain of this side, Wright joined Sussex in 2004 and has been a mainstay of their T20 set-up ever since, captaining them from 2015 to 2021. He was part of their title-winning 2009 team but has got better with age and has become increasingly reliable as an opener since giving up bowling.
3. Moeen Ali (Worcestershire)
101 matches, 2695 runs at 28.97, 141.61 SR
76 wickets at 24.86, 7.31 ER
Winner in 2018
11 votes
A prolific allrounder throughout his domestic T20 career, ruthlessly taking down county spinners and reliably chipping in with the bat. Moeen became Worcestershire's captain in 2018 and immediately led them to their first-ever title; the following season, he hit one of the Blast's great hundreds in the quarter-finals against Sussex.
4. Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire)
206 matches, 3911 runs at 27.54, 127.64 SR
181 wickets at 26.30, 7.28 ER
Winner in 2017 and 2020
15 votes
The Blast's ubiquitous presence: six men in the tournament's history have more runs, only one has more wickets and nobody has played as many games. It seemed a far cry when his first over in the competition went for 28 back in 2003 but Patel has become a domestic T20 legend, winning two titles on top of his remarkable individual success.
5. Jos Buttler (Somerset/Lancashire, wicketkeeper)
96 matches, 2063 runs at 31.73, 150.25 SR
63 catches, 19 stumpings
Winner in 2015
9 votes
It has become rare for Buttler to play more than a handful of Blast games in a season due to his England and IPL commitments but he was one of the competition's stars as a young player. His 55 not out off 23 balls in Somerset's 2010 semi-final was his first major televised innings and he continued to thrive after moving to Lancashire, playing a walk-on role in their 2015 title. Now one of the world's best T20 openers but No. 5 in this team, having spent the overwhelming majority of his domestic career in the middle order.
6. Ravi Bopara (Essex/Sussex)
180 matches, 3786 runs at 27.83, 127.30 SR
134 wickets at 26.03, 7.57 ER
Winner in 2019
11 votes
Like Patel, Bopara has been an ever-present in the Blast, making his debut as a non-bowling No. 9 as a teenager in 2003; it was an inauspicious start but he has thrived in a number of different roles at both Essex and Sussex. He has batted everywhere from No. 1-10 but is a finisher in this side - the role in which he thrived for Essex when taking them to their only T20 title in 2019.
7. Dan Christian (Hampshire/Gloucestershire/Middlesex/Notts)
110 matches, 1933 runs at 28.85, 147.44 SR
67 wickets at 33.56, 8.73 ER
Winner in 2010, 2017 and 2020
6 votes
One of four men to win three Blast finals, including two as captain. Christian's first experience of the Blast was as a jobbing allrounder for Hampshire in 2010, a stint remembered for the chaos induced by his hamstring injury in a dramatic ending to the final. He returned with Gloucestershire and Middlesex - where he once hit 129 in a losing cause - but has flourished at Notts, leading them to two titles and living up to his mantra that "old blokes win stuff".
8. Benny Howell (Hampshire/Gloucestershire)
113 matches, 1611 runs at 22.37, 126.55 SR
131 wickets at 19.44, 7.20 ER
9 votes
Howell is Gloucestershire's magical mystery man. Described by his ESPNcricinfo profile as a right-arm medium-pacer, he identifies himself as a 'fast spinner' who bowls quick cutters and knuckleballs - and few on the county circuit have found a reliable way to counter him. He is the only player in this team without a Blast winners' medal, his only T20 appearances for Hampshire coming in the year between their two titles.
9. Azhar Mahmood (Surrey/Kent)
139 matches, 2034 runs at 25.88, 139.97 SR
152 wickets at 23.98, 7.57 ER
Winner in 2003
5 votes
Mahmood was part of the Surrey side that won the inaugural Twenty20 Cup back in 2003, finishing the season as the second-highest wicket-taker in the country, and was still an effective bowler by the time he played his final Blast game in 2016 at the age of 41. He was also prolific playing for Kent and spent half of his county career as a local player by virtue of his British citizenship.
10. Danny Briggs (Hampshire/Sussex/Warwickshire)
165 matches, 187 wickets at 21.58, 7.15 ER
Winner in 2010 and 2012
5 votes
Briggs' emergence as a fresh-faced left-arm spinner coincided with - and contributed to - Hampshire's T20 glory years: they won the title in his first and third seasons, in 2010 and 2012. His performances earned him a brief England call-up and he has continued to impress while flying under the radar since moving counties, first to Sussex, then to Warwickshire. He retains top spot in the all-time wicket-taking list.
11. Harry Gurney (Leicestershire/Nottinghamshire)
122 matches, 148 wickets at 22.58, 7.90 ER
Winner in 2011 and 2017
13 votes
Gurney was Leicestershire's leading wicket-taker when they won their record third title in 2011 - though missed Finals Day with a side strain - and developed into one of the country's leading death bowlers at Notts, mixing up his pace and angle of attack and nailing his yorkers. He was key to their 2017 title, closing out the final with 4 for 17 to earn himself a second career on the franchise circuit.
Other players who received votes:
4 votes: Graham Napier, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, James Vince, David Willey
3 votes: Yasir Arafat, Michael Klinger
2 votes: Andrew Flintoff, James Foster, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Tymal Mills, Phil Mustard, Jeetan Patel, Imran Tahir, Marcus Trescothick
1 vote: Shahid Afridi, Mushtaq Ahmed, Jofra Archer, Pat Brown, Rikki Clarke, Ian Cockbain, Steven Croft, Steven Davies, Ian Harvey, Adam Hollioake, Colin Ingram, Rashid Khan, Adam Lyth, Darren Maddy, Brendon McCullum, Paul Nixon, Kieron Pollard, Jimmy Ormond, Owais Shah, Jeremy Snape, Darren Stevens, Andrew Symonds, Max Waller, Chris Wood