KARACHI: England may have given Twenty20 to the world but whether they have 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. Meanwhile, an ever declining West Indies side hope home advantage will give them the edge they need to finally win a multiteam competition since 2004. Finally, Zimbabwe have their own tricks up their sleeve, a glimpse of which was displayed when they thrashed Australia. England’s chances still shaky England 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 oneday tournament and the last of their three appearances in a World Cup final was back in 1992, against Imran Khan’s “cornered tigers”. Since staging last year’s edition, they have played just four Twenty20 matches and England’s coach Andy Flower admitted, “We’re undercooked. 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 chances as a help, as India discovered last year. Ever since Marcus Trescothick’s personal problems forced his retirement, 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.
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. Windies banking on home advantage West Indies believe they owe it to their long-suffering fans to win the World Twenty20 and end a six-year wait for meaningful international silverware. Not since 2004, when they lifted the Champions Trophy, have the Caribbean side, once the undisputed rulers of the game, had a title to celebrate. West Indies, who will again be skippered by Chris Gayle, have endured an uneasy relationship with the World Twenty20 in its two editions.
In the opening match of the inaugural tournament in South Africa in 2007, Gayle smashed 117 off 57 balls, the first – and only – century to be made in the world finals yet still lost the game and were then humiliated by Bangladesh to be eliminated from the competition. Last year in England, they stunned Australia by seven wickets in their opener before to losing to Sri Lanka by 15 runs. In the Super Eights, wins over England and India followed before a 57-run semi-final defeat to Sri Lanka.