Graham Thorpe believes England can compete with world champions Pakistan in next week’s WorldCall T-20 Challenge presented by Bank Alfalah at Dubai Sports City.
But in order to do that Paul Collingwood’s side must learn the lessons behind Pakistan’s success in last year’s ICC World Twenty20.
Thorpe, currently in the United Arab Emirates as batting coach for the England Lions squad, knows plenty about top-level cricket having played 100 Tests for his country between 1993 and 2005 and also appearing in two ICC Cricket World Cups.
And looking ahead to the matches at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on 19 and 20 February he said: “Pakistan won (the ICC World Twenty20) in England and they won it with some dynamic cricket and some highly-skilled players executing those skills very well.
“There is a lesson to be learnt from that: you need to play with freedom and you need to throw caution to the wind sometimes but there is a technique and a way of doing that as well and that’s a route the England players are trying to go down.”
The matches are the last ones in this format for both sides before the next ICC World Twenty20 takes place in the Caribbean in April and May and so there will be plenty at stake as the players seek to cement their spots in the line-up.
Thorpe said England can win that event but only if the players improve the execution of their skills.
“To be fair, we’ve been close in Twenty20 cricket and to actually get to a final would be great. I think England have the players but they need to execute better in those pressure situations,” he said.
“I’d say England haven’t and their results in South Africa and in the ICC World Twenty20 show that.
“In England they played well against India and Pakistan and they lost to the West Indies and to Holland so that shows you what Twenty20 throws at a team.
“You need bowlers who can deliver their skills well, you need wicket-takers and as a batsman you need power as boundaries count.
“And while, yes, you need to be able to hit boundaries, the scoring rate also counts as well as there are a lot of dot balls in Twenty20 and if you can’t hit a boundary then you’ve got to be scoring off the deliveries.
“If you get five dot balls and then a four I’m not saying it’s no good to anyone but it does mean the momentum slows down and that’s a big thing that teams look to as well – momentum,” he added.
Thorpe said he was looking forward to seeing how the Pakistan players approached next week’s matches.
“The games will be fascinating for me to see how the Pakistani players go about things because they combine everything that’s good about Pakistan cricket.
“Sometimes in the longer form of the game they struggle with the repeating of disciplines but in Twenty20 cricket there’s only 20 overs to play and that’s the difference.
“That’s why they are a very dangerous side in the short version of the game,” he added.
Tickets prices for the matches start at AED75 (Friday 19 February) and AED50 (Saturday 20 February) and go up to AED500 (Friday) and AED400 (Saturday) and they are now available through www.boxofficeme.com, www.ticketingboxoffice.com or by calling +971 4 367 6520.