Saturday 15 March 2014 

ICC World Twenty20 2014 Preview - England

Ravi Bopara celebrates
Ravi Bopara could well prove a key figure for England with both bat and ball.
© REUTERS/Philip Brown. Picture Supplied by Action Images
 

At one point last year when England were performing respectably against New Zealand and Australia despite key players such as Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann being rested, and they boasted the world’s number one ranked batsman in Alex Hales, they would have considered themselves strong contenders for the ICC World Twenty20.

However, with Pietersen sent to Coventry, Swann retired, Hales no longer ranked number one, and other members of their potentially dangerous top-order, most notably Luke Wright, out of form, only the most ardent England fan would still harbour realistic hopes of them lifting the trophy next month.

In fact, England’s build-up has been a lesson in how not to prepare for a major tournament. Get whitewashed in an Ashes series, lose five successive Twenty20 Internationals, sack your Director of Cricket, blood several new players and have a key player punch a locker and fracture his wrist. They also struggled in their recent series in the Caribbean in conditions that will not be completely dissimilar to those in Bangladesh.

There are a couple of factors in their favour. They did win the final match in Barbados and they are in arguably the weaker of the two groups, with arch nemesis Australia, India and Pakistan in the other group. Instead, they will hope to have the better of teams such as an out-of-sorts South Africa and a New Zealand side that could also struggle in the expected spinning conditions. To reach the semi-final stage would be seen as a major success, but at the other end of the spectrum a defeat to potential qualifiers Ireland cannot be discounted.

Added to this is the fact that their past performances in this tournament don’t do much do add a sense of optimism. Granted they did win in 2010 - when the excluded Pietersen was man of the tournament - but otherwise they have endured losses in the Super Eight stage every time.

To leave pessimism aside for one moment, they do have a potentially exciting batting line-up - if they manage to fire. Hales, as mentioned, has already proven himself at this level, while his opening partner Michael Lumb is one of the few England players with IPL experience. If Wright can regain form, then he will lead an exciting middle-order that includes their vice-captain Eoin Morgan and the ridiculously talented Jos Buttler. Moeen Ali, Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan will then add lower-order firepower.

Bopara, in particular, could well be a key player. In good form with the bat in the West Indies, England may choose to push him up the order from his customary number seven spot, while his cutters should prove useful as they did in Barbados.

The spin attack, though, lacks anything resembling an x-factor. James Tredwell is a consistent and reliable off-spinner but won’t strike fear into the likes of Aaron Finch, Kumar Sangakkara and MS Dhoni, while Stephen Parry is very much a left-field selection after solid performances in domestic Twenty20 cricket for Lancashire.

Death bowling has also been a concern of late. Jade Dernbach has all the tricks and should be perfect, but perhaps doesn’t always know when to bowl what and is occasionally dogged by bad luck. Tim Bresnan can bowl yorkers reliably but England’s obsession with the strategy of slower balls and bouncers that proved so successful in 2010 sometimes renders that skill meaningless. Stuart Broad, meanwhile, is an injury doubt with his knee, while Chris Jordan is still very much at the beginning of his international career.

Recent Form:
2013-14 – WLWLALWLLLLLW
9th February: beat New Zealand by 40 runs at Eden Park
12th February: lost to New Zealand by 55 runs in Hamilton
15th February: beat New Zealand by 10 wickets at Westpac Stadium
25th June: lost to New Zealand by 5 wickets at The Oval
27th June: no result against New Zealand at The Oval
29th August: lost to Australia by 39 runs in Southampton
31st August: beat Australia by 27 runs in Chester-le-Street
29th January: lost to Australia by 13 runs in Hobart
31st January: lost to Australia by 8 wickets at MCG
2nd February: lost to Australia by 84 runs at Stadium Australia
9th March: lost to West Indies by 27 runs in Barbados
11th March: lost to West Indies by 5 wickets
13th March: beat West Indies by 5 runs

Previous Tournament Performances:
2007: Didn’t progress from Super Eight Group E after losing to India, New Zealand and South Africa
2009: Didn’t progress from Super Eight Group E after losing to South Africa and West Indies
2010: Champions after beating Australia in the Final
2012: Didn’t progress from Super Eight Group 1 after losing to West Indies and Sri Lanka

Tournament Fixtures:
Group 1 opponents: New Zealand, Qualifier from Group B, South Africa, Sri Lanka
22nd March: v New Zealand in Chittagong
27th March: v Sri Lanka in Chittagong
29th March: v South Africa in Chittagong
31st March: v Qualifier in Chittagong

Squad: Stuart Broad (captain), Eoin Morgan (vice-captain), Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Michael Lumb, Stephen Parry, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes, Luke Wright.

© Cricket World 2014