15 May 2009

England's Twenty20 options

Not for the first time, England head into a major tournament with little idea of what their best starting line-up is. The ICC World Twenty20 starts on 5th June, but with a new-look squad, the composition of England’s team for the curtain-raiser against Netherlands at Lord’s is anyone’s guess.

The selectors at least have plenty of limited overs cricket to consider over the coming weeks, as there is pure diet of 50 over Friends Provident Trophy and Twenty20 cup matches to digest.

Many of England’s squad owe their inclusion to good form in those competitions last year, so some decent displays this month could be persuasive. Only five players can be said to be 100% sure of a starting place, fitness permitting.

Skipper Paul Collingwood will bat in the middle order and provide a handy medium pace bowling option. Bet on Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff to feature in the top six, despite disappointing IPL campaigns. England’s star players have under-performed in the format and the hosts need them to discover some boundary-hitting form if they are to feature in the latter stages.

James Foster and Graeme Swann are respectively the only wicket keeper and spinner in the squad. Slow bowling is a crucial part of Twenty20 cricket and the in-form Swann must feature in every match.

Big hitting has been one of England’s problems in the format. Graham Napier has been called up to address this, but with Dimitri Mascarenhas and Luke Wright also included, the world record holder for sixes in an innings might be left on the sidelines.

Robert Key returns to open the batting, probably with the in-form Ravi Bopara. James Anderson and Stuart Broad should edge out Ryan Sidebottom to share new ball duties, which leaves county colleagues Eoin Morgan and Owais Shah. It seems only one can play, with Shah’s international experience counting in his favour.

One thing is for sure though, ICC World Twenty20 betting is likely to be very interesting indeed!

Possible England team: Bopara, Key, Pietersen, Shah, Flintoff, Collingwood(c), Foster(w), Mascarenhas, Broad, Swann, Anderson

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