Thursday, 21 June 2007

Who should England pick for Twenty20?

With the Twenty20 World Cup looming in September, it is time England assemble a strategy to win the tournament. Considering the amount of domestic Twenty20 played, England should be genuine contenders for tournament victory – but not if they dogmatically insist on playing an identical side to the one utilised on one-day internationals.

Here is the side they should pick:

Marcus Trescothick
The powerful left-hander has long since proved himself a superb international player, and has a game perfectly suited to Twenty20; indeed, he averages 55 in the three international games he has played to date.

Mal Loye
Mastered the art of the slog sweep off quick bowlers, an idiosyncratic shot which infuriates bowlers and has been extremely effective, even during his brief ODI career. Loye’s aggressive, fearless style has worked terrifically well to date in this form of the game.

Darren Maddy
Dubbed "Mr Twenty20" by David Lloyd, Maddy was the key man in Leicestershire’s two Twenty20 triumphs, opening the innings to great effect and scoring a match-winning 86* in last year’s final.

Kevin Pietersen
The world’s best ODI batsman is a must pick if England choose to treat the game with the respect it deserves.

Paul Collingwood (captain)
Collingwood is seen as a nudger and nurdler but, as he showed with a 26-ball 46 in the Twenty20 game against Australia in 2005, is very adept at improvising to hit boundaries. He also possesses an ice-cool temperament and his accurate medium-pace bowling has much Twenty20 potential – his 4-22 against Sri Lanka are the best international figures in this form of the game.

Andrew Flintoff
An extremely destructive hitter when his mind is uncluttered, Flintoff’s accurate and fast bowling would surely prove very effective in Twenty20.

Paul Nixon (wicket-keeper)
Matt Prior has done terrifically in Test cricket and is a big hitter but, at the death in the claustrophobic environment of Twenty20, Nixon, with his resilience under pressure and penchant for the reverse-sweep, is an ideal man to have coming in – and his relentless sledging could also be worth a few wickets.

Ian Blackwell
Monty Panesar could prove too predictable in Twenty20 cricket, but Blackwell has fared well with bat and ball in this form of the game. His excellent ODI economy rate – 4.27 – suggests he could tie top quality batsmen down; regulars at Tauntan know he has copious destructive batting potential.

Mark Ealham
Snigger if you must but Ealham’s brand of frugal medium-pace bowling and uncultured hitting have earned extraordinary success in Twenty 20: his strike-rate is a phenomenal 174; his economy rate a mightily impressive 6.8.

Darren Gough
Gough was never granted a satisfactory international farewell but, in Twenty20 cricket, his love of the big stage, fantastic yorker and late-order biffing are deserving of one final international crack – remember he claimed 3-16 against Australia in 2005.

Stuart Broad
Broad revealed his big-match temperament with some sterling exploits in Leicestershire’s Twenty20 triumph last season, taking 3-13 off four brilliant overs against Kent in the quartr-final. An immensely promising quick, he can also bat reasonably well.

Other squad members:
Owais Shah
Shah has done disappointingly for England in ODIs, but he is a richly talented player whose unorthodoxy and flair have come good in Twenty20 - he averages 35 and has a strike-rate of 147.

Ravi Bopara
A Collingwood clone, albeit more obviously talented, Bopara had an excellent World Cup and, despite a modest Twenty20 record, is well suited to this format of the game.

Jeremy Snape
Snape’s nerve and willingness to bowl extraordinarily slow balls - known as 'moonballs' - have served him brilliantly in Twenty20; he has captained Leicestershire to their two titles and also averaged 25 with the bat.

Ryan Sidebottom
Sidebottom brings variety, in that he is a left-armer, control and the crucial ability to swing the white ball. These have certainly stood him in excellent stead in the helter-skelter of Twenty20: his economy rate is an exceptional 6.6.

If Trescothick were unavailable, Shah would replace him - he would bat at three and Maddy would open.

If Flintoff were unavailable, Snape or Bopara would replace him.

On the periphery: Mark Ramprakash, James Hildreth, Matt Prior, Michael Yardy, Dimi Mascarenhas, Monty Panesar

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