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Archive for the ‘T20 World Cup’ Category

This is a bit odd.  England seem to have actually picked a half decent squad for a major tournament.  I genuinely don’t remember the last time this happened, and it certainly hasn’t in T20 cricket.  Damn it, who is going to be our Schofield/Maddy/Kirtley/Key/Napier this time?  A team like;

Lumb

Kiesswetter

Pietersen

Collingwood

Bopara/Yardy

Morgan

Wright

Swann

Broad

Bresnan

Anderson

actually looks more than reasonable. Especially when you consider the thus-far impressive Tredwell is in the mix as well.  Even Sidebottom could jut prove to be wily selection – if he stays fit, his left arm yorkers and slow bouncers are a handy variation.

Of course, the selectors picking the right squad for a change might actually prove to create an even bigger problem.  If England go out in the first couple of rounds, then it is going to be inescapable that it is because they are just plain rubbish.  This is where they need to learn a bit from their mentors, Pakistan.  If you drop half the team, you can at least pretend you would be good if you had a full side.

Another small issue is that Michael Lumb seems to have been born in a familiar country.  The link to the land of biltong may be tenuous in his case, but an alarming number of current England players seem to have strange combinations of “I”s, “E”s and “A”s in their place of birth.  It’s hard to escape the fact that this one is going to run and run.

Let’s be positive though.  At  10/1, England actually look like decent value for an each way punt.  Big hitters at the top, canny accumulators with the odd slogger in the middle order and a varied bowling line up – are England finally getting the idea?

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Previous Performances: 2007 –  Super 8’s               2009 – Super 8’s

Group – D with West Indies and Ireland

Form (recent first) LWLWNNLWLW.  Which quite neatly sums up England in this format.  They have neither lost or won more than one game in a row since the start of the last World Cup.

Odds – 12/1

Captain – Paul Collingwood

Key player – Man of the moment Graeme Swann just keeps going.  With spin expected to play a major part in the tournament, England will be looking to him as an attacking threat rather than someone who will keep an end tight.  Also offers some handy lower order hitting, and England would do well to nudge him up the order a couple of places.

Strength – Everything finally appears to be coming together.  The bowling attack is showing promise of devloping into a good unit, and they probably have the deepest batting line up in the tournament.  England also now have an athletic fielding outfit which will be the envy of most sides, and have somehow ended up in far and away the easiest group.

Weakness – After 16 goes, they are yet to find anything like a decent opening partnership.   So much relies on Collingwood, Pietersen and Morgan finding the boundary that if any of those three have a poor tournament England will struggle to post the really imposing totals.

Can they win it?

Prediction – Super 8’s.  England are better, but still not quite good enough.

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Previous Performances: 2007 –  Super 8’s               2009 – R1

Group – A with Australia and Pakistan

Form (recent first) – LLLLLLLLLL.  Hmmm. 

Odds – 80/1

Captain – Shakib-Al-Hasan

Key player – As important as skipper Shakib is, without a decent contribution from Tamim Iqbal it will all probably be irrelevent.  On merit, Tamim is considered one of the most brutal batsmen in world cricket.  The Tigers will need him to get going at the top of the order to make sure that they have a score that can be defended by their wide selection of wily spinners.

Strength – Their sheer inexperience leaves them pretty much fearless, and this has led to them shocking everyone (bar, rather inexplicably, England) at some point.  They have the indivduals to cause upsets, of that there is no doubt.  Although they will be unfancied to qualify for the Super 8’s, the match against Pakistan ought to be the game of the 1st Round.

Weakness – Seamers.   If someone takes a liking to the spin attck, and Australia and Pakistan are filled with players who are capable of doing just that, there is no Plan B.  Their fielding also lurches between fair and downright awful, which tends to be shown up even more in the shortest form of the game.

Can they win it?

Prediciton – First round.  In fairness, they have every chance of knocking over Pakistan, but I will sit on the fence and call a narrow loss to them to go with a thumping from Australia.

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Previous Performances: 2007 –   SF              2009 – R1

Group – A with Bangladesh and Pakistan

Form (recent first) – LWWWWNNLLL.  A dreadful showing in the last T20 World Cup, followed by a recent renaissance.  The main problem the Australians seem to have is taking the format seriously – after being humbled in England, they surely won’t be making that mistake again.

Odds – 9/2

Captain – Michael Clarke

Key player – He bats, he bowls, he fields, he has a red-hot fiance and could probably crush a man like a walnut.  Good God Shane Watson is annoying.  It’s almost as if someone has made an evil clone of Andrew Flintoff.  Will open the batting and bludgeon the bowling around Hayden-style, before sending down 4 overs of brisk medium pace.  His breakthrough as a world-class all-rounder has been a long time coming – this could be the tournament where he finally confirms it.

Strength – An almost ideal Twenty20 mix of experience and youthful exuberance.  Hussey and Clarke will marshall the batting, while the young bowling attack is full of pace and variation.  As with all Australian sides they are good in the field, and as a team they seem equipped to deal with every eventuality.  On a mission to right the wrongs of previous T20 WC humblings.

Weakness – The lack of decent competition of late.  A summer clean-sweep sounds impressive, but wins against an awful West Indies side and a shambolic Pakistan haven’ t really told them much.  Most of the time, it seemed that some of the players may have got a more competitive workout in Shield cricket.  The ease in which wins have achieved have led to a rotation policy, particularly among the bowlers – Australia know they have a decent pool of players, but can have no idea what is their best XI.  Will the likes of Harris, McKay, Smith and Marsh be as successful against the might of South Africa and India? 

Can they win it?

 Prediciton – Winners, unfortunately.

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Previous Performances: 2007 – N/A                2009 – N/A

Group – C with India and South Africa

Form (Most recent first) – WLWWW.  Yet to play a Test playing nation, but Afghanistan claimed the far from insignificant scalps of Ireland, Scotland and Canada last month, and only narrowly lost to England conquerors the Netherlands.  The potential is there. 

Odds – 1000/1

Captain – Nowroz Manga

Key player – Mohammad Shahzad.  Just 18 years of age, yet already has two ODI hundreds against the Netherlands and Canada and recently hit a double hundred in a successful chase of 494 against the Canadians in the longer format of the Intercontinental Cup.

Strength – As a team, they have nothing to lose.  Nobody expects anything more than for them to receive two sound beatings, so a couple of early wickets in either group game might see their opponents panic.

Weakness – There is an obvious gulf in class between them and the Test playing nations.  It sounds like a cliché, but they really will be delighted just to be along for the ride. None of their squad have 10 ODI or 20 first class limited overs games behind them, and just running India or South Africa close in one of the games will be an achievement for the newest emerging nation.

Can they win it?

Prediction – First round exit

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