Comment: ICC WT20 - Play Up, Log On, Get Involved
Cricket never stops anymore. Just hours after Hampshire and Warwickshire played out the most thrilling of Lord's finals, the ICC World Twenty20 gets underway in Sri Lanka.
Shortly afterwards, we have the Champions League as the Southern hemisphere summer programme gets underway with England touring India a chief attraction.
It is time now though to focus on the ICC World Twenty20 which begins on Tuesday and runs through until 7th October. This is exactly how an international cricket tournament should be. Short, sharp and intense. Every match matters. Lose a group game and you are under pressure. No meaningless dead rubbers and the eyes of the world looking on, tuning in and getting involved.
It all starts with the hosts Sri Lanka eager to avoid 'doing an England' and losing to lower ranked opposition when they take on Zimbabwe. Few could have predicted on that damp day at Lord's in 2009 when the Netherlands turned the home of cricket orange that Andy Flower's men would go on to win the competition in 2010.
As reigning champions, they go into the tournament full of confidence and expectation and have selected an exciting young squad, but missing Kevin Pietersen will be a huge obstacle for them to overcome, especially on turning pitche.
Expect Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan to perform well in conditions that they are used to performing in. All three have excellent records in the competition; Sri Lanka reaching the final in 2009 and both India and Pakistan past winners. Bangladesh may spring a surprise but need to beat New Zealand to reach the Super Eight phase as Pakistan will surely be too strong for them.
International cricket has missed Chris Gayle even if he has been lighting up domestic leagues around the world. The challenge isn't the same and with him back at the top of the order, the West Indies are a better side. Good enough to warrant their tag as plenty of onlooker's outsiders to go all the way.
Indian Premier League experience counts for plenty. Whereas England's players boast little, the majority of the West Indian contingent - and especially key men such as Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine - have played extensively in Asia and will be well prepared.
The warm-up games have thrown up some interesting results. Two heavy defeats for Zimbabwe points to a difficult tournament for them while Ireland, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan have taken morale-boosting victories. 99 times out of 100, Afghanistan have next to no chance against India or England but fairytales do happen - just ask the Dutch - and there is nothing wrong with a shake-up to the established order.
One area where a shake-up is not expected is in the women's tournament. England go into that on the back of an extraordinary unbeaten run that ended at 20 yesterday and are going to be battling it out with Australia, New Zealand and probably India or the West Indies once the tournament moves past the group stages.
It would be good for the game if Pakistan, South Africa or Sri Lanka could spring a surprise but recent results would suggest this is highly unlikely.
Australia recently beat India in India so as far as predictions go, I see them and England making the final. In the men's event, Pakistan will be my pick with Sri Lanka, West Indies and South Africa as my dark horses.
We'll be bringing the tournament to life in a number of different ways here at Cricket World. Alongside our usual up-to-the-minute tweeting and reporting, I will be hosting a live television show at 1700 GMT each day throughout the tournament as we look back on the action, catch up with our team of experts and cover any late action.
All you need to do to watch is head over to our YouTube channel and each show will be recorded so you can watch again after the event.
As if that wasn't enough, we'll be compiling all of our online content - and some exclusive stuff - and producing a definitive book on the tournament, telling the story from the build-up to the warm-downs.
© Cricket World 2012
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