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Who can Gujarat potentially sign to replace Williamson?

Last updated on 01 Apr 2023 | 12:43 PM
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Who can Gujarat potentially sign to replace Williamson?

We look at the options at the Titans’ disposal should Williamson end up missing the rest of the season with a knee injury

Note: Steve Smith is ineligible, and cannot be signed as replacement by any side since he did not enroll his name in the auction

Dawid Malan

Primary batting position: No.3

Like-for-like replacement? Yes

Recent form in T20 cricket (since 2022): 1236 runs @ avg 35.31 and SR 138.6

Prior IPL experience? Yes 

Overall record in India: 174 runs @ avg 34.8 and SR 116.8   

In every way, Malan is the perfect Kane Williamson replacement GT could hope for. Malan fits the bill perfectly, being an anchor, but his ability to accelerate and his superior recent form makes him arguably an even more attractive option. 

A fit Williamson would have meant GT having four right-handers in the Top 4 but roping-in Malan would help solve that problem too. As things stand they’re deploying young Sai Sudharsan at No.3, but Malan is an upgrade in every way.

With Malan, the question has always been his skill to tackle spin but in the past year, he has significantly improved on that front, his SR versus the slower bowlers reading 134.45 since the start of 2022. For context, in 43 games between 2020 and 2021, the subsequent number was 119.72.

Rassie van der Dussen

Primary batting position: No.3 and No.4

Like-for-like replacement? Yes

Recent form in T20 cricket (since 2022):  524 runs @ avg 24.95 and SR 119.9

Prior IPL experience? Yes

Overall T20 record in India: 164 runs @ avg 18.22 and SR 103.8

There was a time, not too long ago, when there was heavy clamouring for Van der Dussen to be a part of Rajasthan Royals’ starting XI but a year on, things have changed for the 34-year-old. And not in a good way. 

As the numbers depict, Van der Dussen has had a rough year and this lean patch has also coincided with him losing his spot in the South African T20 side. That he went unsold in the mini-auction surprised no one.

But if solidity and experience are the factors Gujarat are truly looking for, then RVD might not be the worst of replacements for Williamson. On his good day, RVD can not only anchor but explode once he’s set, in Kohli-esque fashion.

The worry is that the frequency of these ‘good days’ have reduced drastically. And he’s the kind of batter which, on his bad days, is really bad.

Jason Roy

Primary batting position: Opener

Like-for-like replacement? No

Recent form in T20 cricket since (2022): 1268 runs @ avg 25.36 and SR 137.4

Prior IPL experience? Yes

Overall T20 record in India: 567 runs @ avg 28.35 and SR 138

Given the Titans purchased Roy at the mega auction last year — before he pulled out citing personal reasons — it won’t be surprising if the franchise opt to snap him up again; clearly, the think-tank seem to rate him. 

From a tactical standpoint, though, signing Roy will make little sense, for then Gujarat will have to either bat the 32-year-old, or one of Saha or Gill out of their preferred position. 

You’d think the franchise wouldn’t want to separate the Gill-Saha opening stand, which has fared really well, but then Roy has struggled at No.3, averaging a mere 21.76 in 34 innings. 

Outside the fact that Roy isn’t a natural like-for-like replacement — due to not being an anchor — he’s also blown hot and cold in the past year. There have been some outrageous knocks — such as the 145* in the PSL last month — but such knocks have been few and far between.

Reeza Hendricks

Primary batting position: Opener

Like-for-like replacement? No

Recent form in T20 cricket (since 2022): 1127 runs @ avg 37.57 and SR 140.9

Prior IPL experience? No

Overall T20 record in India: 61 runs @ average 15.25 and SR 101.7

One of the most in-form T20 batters in the world at the moment, Hendricks being in the midst of a purple patch is the lone reason for the Titans to snap him up. Hendricks has smashed 6 fifties in his last 8 T20Is and is, without question, in the form of his life, batting as well as he ever has. 

But by signing Hendricks, a natural opener, GT will again be forced to make structural changes — at least one of the top three will be forced to bat out of position.

It’ll also make little sense for GT to sign another specialist opener, considering they already have in the squad Urvil Patel, Matthew Wade and KS Bharat — all of whom can open the batting.

The Titans, you feel, will also be wary of Hendricks’ lack of experience in subcontinent conditions. 

Chris Lynn

Primary batting position:  Opener / Number three

Recent form in T20 cricket (since 2022): 1006 runs @ avg 43.74 and SR 146.2

Like-for-like replacement? No

Prior IPL experience? Yes

Overall T20 record in India: 1318 runs @ avg 32.95 and SR 139.9

Someone that’s been nearly forgotten, Chris Lynn would in fact be a pretty interesting Williamson replacement. He’s not a like-for-like by any means but he’ll add a completely different dimension to the GT batting unit. 

Lynn, 32 now, has been under the radar for a while but his recent form is evidence enough for the fact that he still has plenty to offer. 

Unlike both Roy and Hendricks, what makes Lynn a great fit is the fact that he’s equally proficient both opening the batting and playing at No.3. In his T20 career, Lynn has batted 94 times at No.3 and has averaged 37.04 while striking at 144.1. 

42% of his innings in the previous 16 months have also come at No.3.

Needless to say, Lynn also has prior experience playing in both India and the IPL, and has done well, having averaged 34.08 and struck at 140.63 in the 42 matches he played for KKR and MI. 

Other possible replacements

Travis Head — middle-order option that can bowl off-spin. He has, however, been shockingly poor in T20 cricket of late, having averaged 13.11 in 21 T20s since the start of 2021.

Paul Stirling — Another aggressive batter who’s a natural opener. But he, too, has blown hot and cold since last year, averaging 22.24. 

Brandon King — King is another possible replacement the Titans could look at; he is someone capable of batting at No.3, performing a hybrid anchor role. But the Titans will be taking a big chance by signing him, for they’ll be snapping him up based on potential rather than performance.

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