ICC T20 World Cup 2012: Can England defend their title?
Defending champions England will be keen to keep their superiority intact in the 3rd edition of the World T20 but it will be very difficult for them. Though nobody was expecting them to win the trophy two years back but England had some fine T20 players in their former skippers - Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood. With the former controversially kept out of the team while the latter retired from cricket, England, led by pace bowler Stuart Broad, are no longer favourites this time. But the team has some very good young players who can upset any big team.
Strength: The biggest strength of this current England squad is their huge experience of playing T20 domestic cricket in England. Though there is no cash-rich league in England like India’s IPL and Australia’s BBL, English players get plenty of T20 cricket in their domestic compactions which help them produce some exciting young talents.
With some good all-rounders in Tim Bresnan, Samit Patel and Luke Wright in their side, England look to be a very balanced team. Samit Patel is a handy batsman in addition to his tight left-arm spin. He will be helpful in the slow and low tracks of Sri Lanka. Tim Bresnan is another man who will give plenty of troubles to the oppositions with his little cameos coming at number 7 or 8. Luke Wright is also a good line and length bowler apart from his explosive batting talent.
England bat pretty deep which will help them steal some crunch matches in their favour.
Apart from the all-rounders, England’s spin attack consisting of Graeme Swann and Samit Patel would prove to be handy in the sub-continental conditions. Their pace bowling attack of skipper Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Tim Bresnan, Jade Dernbach is also good.
Weakness: England’s biggest drawback is their batting which is pretty inexperienced. Apart from Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan, every batsman in the line-up is quite new in the international cricket. Moreover, England will definitely feel the absence of their star batsman Kevin Pietersen who was not considered for the high-profile tournament despite his willingness to play on the backdrop of his controversial SMS comments on coach Andy Flower and former Test skipper Andrew Strauss.
Though England have included some exciting new talents in Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales, Jos Buttler, Michael Lumb, nobody matches the talent and run-scoring capacity of Pietersen apart from the aura around him.
Opportunity: The absence of Pietersen also gives an opportunity for the younger players in the side to show their potentials. Bairstow, Hales and Buttler will have a perfect chance to cement their places in the team. If they come good, England will be a dangerous team in the tournament. It will also help the team overcome the over-dependency on Pietersen. The entire England will be hoping to see a new Pietersen coming out from this tournament.
This tournament will also prove to be a big test for young captain Stuart Broad. His performances as a captain will be keenly watched by the England’s cricket management. His good show here will allow him to push for the ODI captaincy if Alistair Cook continues to fail with the bat.
Threat: Like Australia and South Africa, it will be very difficult to win the title for England in the spin friendly conditions in Sri Lanka. It will make them worse for their inexperienced batsmen who never played in the sub-continents against quality spin bowling. Apart from Ravi Bopara and to some extent Michael Lumb, no England batsman is experienced enough to play against turning ball. Even Eoin Morgan struggles against quality tweakers.
Newbies: Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Danny Briggs
Comeback men: Michael Lumb
Players to watch out for: Graeme Swann, Samit Patel, Eoin Morgan, Stuart Broad
Squad: Stuart Broad (c), Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter, Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.