The Road To $20 Million Starts Here For England
England will want to take the momentum going into the five match ODI series with a win in a one off Twenty20 match against New Zealand at Old Trafford on Friday.
With Twenty20 cricket so important now in a new era of cricket that is seeing the 20 over game becoming the highest paid and interested format of the game at the current time, with the recent announcements of the likes of the Stanford Super Stars against England matches.
One big question remains for England, and that is who is going to open the batting for England with Alastair Cook not that well suited to this form of the game and looked out of sorts in the Test series. Luke Wright, who looks set for a bright future may be the likely choice to open the batting. Domestically, Wright was the leading run scorer in the Twenty20 last year and hit the most sixes out of any batsman – which makes him odds on to start in the openers slot.
His partner could also be Graeme Swann, who has had success opening the batting in the Twenty20 competition and One Day competitions for Nottinghamshire in the past. Allowing Swann to open the batting may enable England to pick an extra string to their bow with everyone fighting for their place in the 14-man squad, bar Ryan Sidebottom, Kevin Pietersen and James Anderson (after the last Test at Trent Bridge).
Having been in such superb form for their respective counties, Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah are in line to have start in the middle order and will again be out to impress. Bopara has recently hit an unbeaten 201, along with Shah’s 144 which was recognised by call ups to the ODI squad.
Dimi Mascarenhas should be included to smash a few quick runs at the end of the innings and bowl some tidy over of clever changes of pace as he continues to be one of England’s best players in one day cricket.
Ryan Sidebottom will start with the new ball for England, along with James Anderson and maybe Stuart Broad who has been impressive as the young all-rounder has been showing his bags of talent.
New Zealand will be looking for a major improvement on their Test performances. On the whole, the Kiwis are renowned for being a better one-day outfit, which shows with their mammoth 358-8 they notched up against Worcestershire in a warm up game.
Worryingly for England, Brendon McCullum has hit some form as the explosive batsman hit a blistering century at more than a run a ball at New Road. He is set to open the batting and will relish the chance to get his side back on track with a win in the one Twenty20 match.
Besides McCullum, Ross Taylor is smashing the ball to all parts and looks in brilliant form at the moment. At the age of just 24, he is one of New Zealand’s leading batsmen. This is great, but also a worry as a lot rests on such young shoulders.
The Kiwis need another batsman to step up to the mark, whether this will be Daniel Flynn or Peter Fulton. Flynn was impressive during the Test series and surely has a very bright future for the Black Caps. Jamie How should open the batting and provide stability with McCullum bound to go after the bowlers, How has a sound technique and definitely has what it takes to be one of New Zealand’s best batsman for years, but Twetny20 isn’t his strongest form of the game.
He may play in the middle order and hold the innings together if the explosive McCullum and Taylor are back in the dugout early.
Jeetan Patel, Mark Gillespie and Michael Mason will battle it out for a place in the team. All are lacking match practice, but managed to get some overs in against Worcestershire. With this, Jacob Oram and Kyle Mills will have to take the reigns and bowl well to reduce England.
We definitely will see both sides come out all guns blazing for this one off Twenty20 match. Both sides will want to take a win into the first ODI, and establish themselves as a good Twetny20 side in International Cricket. Someone will need to provide a special performance as these two sides look evenly balanced in the shorter format of the game, even though England won the previous Twenty20 series 2-0.
Luke Wright, Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood (captain), Tim Ambrose (wicket-keeper), Dimitri Mascarenhas, Stuart Broad, Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson
Brendon McCullum (wicket-keeper), Jamie How, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Daniel Flynn, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori (captain), Jeetan Patel, Mark Gillespie, Kyle Mills, Chris Martin
England have beaten New Zealand in their last two Twenty20 encounters while New Zealand are without a win in six.
Dimitri Mascarenhas played for the champion IPL side Rajasthan Royals while Brendon McCullum hit a world record 158 with 13 sixes for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Ross Taylor (Bangalore Royal Challengers), Daniel Vettori (Delhi Daredevils), Jacob Oram (Chennai Super Kings) and Scott Styris (Deccan Chargers) also played while Kyle Mills was an unused member of the Kings XI Punjab side.
Cricket World® verdict:
England to win by five wickets or by 30-odd runs if they bat first. Tim Ambrose to justify selection as England carry over good Test form into the Twenty20 arena with McCullum and Flynn to cause England a headache or two.
© Cricket World 2008