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Friday, July 19, 2024  
12 Muharram 1446  

T20 WC, England prospects open to question

T20 WC England prospects open to questionEngland may have given Twenty20 to the world but whether they've given themselves the best chance of winning the World Twenty20 is another point entirely.
The 15-man squad they have taken with them to the Caribbean shows six changes from the party that contested the last World Twenty20 in England under a year ago.
Ever since Marcus Trescothick's personal problems forced his retirement from international cricket, England have struggled to find a successful hard-hitting batsman at the top of the order in limited overs cricket with Test skipper Andrew Strauss ruling himself out of Twenty20.
The lack of a dynamic opener would be a handicap in any form of one-day cricket but in Twenty20 it is almost the equivalent of playing with 10 men.
"A lack of power up front has been a worry," England coach Andy Flower told the Sunday Telegraph. "To put bowlers under real pressure you do need people who are willing to hit the ball hard." England's selection of Craig Kieswetter, also their wicketkeeper in this format now, means they are set to field their 17th opening partnership in 26 Twenty20 internationals in the West Indies.
Kieswetter's selection has caused controversy, not because of the player's undoubted ability, but because of his origins.
He is the latest England player - and third member of this squad along with fellow batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Michael Lumb - to have learned his cricket in South Africa, although Lumb's father, Richard, opened for Yorkshire.
The fact that a country with England's playing resources cannot field a squad entirely made up of players who've come through its own system is a cause of anguish to traditionalists amongst their own supporters and a source of mockery elsewhere in the world.
England, embarrassingly beaten by minnows the Netherlands at Lord's during last year's World Twenty20, have often given the impression in recent times that there sole focus is on Test, rather than limited overs, cricket.
They have never won a major one-day tournament and the last of their three appearances in a World Cup final was back in 1992.
Since staging last year's edition they have played just four Twenty20 matches and Flower admitted: "We're undercooked.
"We were in Bangladesh recently and we finished that tour playing Test cricket, so those guys who did not go to the IPL (Indian Premier League) have played only first-class cricket recently. "And I do find it strange that we have one or two T20s dotted around the year and then suddenly we go into what is a huge world tournament." Although England Twenty20 captain Paul Collingwood, Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, Lumb and Ravi Bopara have all been playing in the IPL, that tournament's packed schedule can prove as much a hindrance to a team's World Twenty20 chances as a help, as India discovered last year.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad are set to lead England's pace attack in the Caribbean although England do have a wildcard in Yorkshire's Ajmal Shahzad, whose county colleague Tim Bresnan won't lack for self-confidence when confronted by the world's best batsmen.
But doubts remain as to whether England, whose main slow bowling option remains off-spinner Graeme Swann, will have enough guile and variety in their attack to keep the opposition in check on what are likely to be batsmen-friendly pitches.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2010

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