England’s squad for the ICC World Twenty20 contains a mixture of central contract regulars and Twenty20 specialists. The selectors have rewarded consistent domestic performers in the shortest format of the game, although the first choice line-up could well end up being similar to the team that turns out for 50 over matches.
There will be a change behind the stumps, as James Foster comes in for Matt Prior. Some might question this move, as Prior is in the form of his life with the bat, but the selectors are right to recognise that superior keeping is as important in this format as others.
The Essex man’s busy batting is perhaps under-rated and he might slot in at number six. Rob Key and Graham Napier are the other men who have forced their way into the squad on the back of their Twenty20 cup exploits.
Both were initially pencilled in for places in the team, but their current form will force a rethink. Key has scored just 66 runs in four first class innings for Kent and has fared even worse in coloured clothing, hitting a top score of 27 from eight Friends Provident knocks. He scored a second ball duck in his only completed Twenty20 cup innings.
Napier has also had a slow start, failing to pass 50 in his six limited overs knocks, although his away swing bowling seems to be in better order. His boundary hitting is the reason for his inclusion and if that is lacking, it is hard to see a starting place for the burly allrounder.
Key’s place at the top of the order will go to Eoin Morgan, who showed all the invention and urgency needed for the role in smashing a Friends Provident 161 from 136 balls for Middlesex against Kent. He is not usually an opener in any format, but Key is simply not in the sort of form to give England the start they require.
With regards to Twenty20 betting, the rest of the team is easier to predict, with Adil Rashid, Luke Wright and Ryan Sidebottom fighting it out for one place if Napier does miss out. Spin is crucial in Twenty20 cricket and this could be the time for Rashid to make his full international debut.
Be sure to bear all this in mind when you look to place your all-important Twenty20 bet.
Possible team: Bopara, Morgan, Pietersen, Shah, Collingwood, Foster, Mascarenhas, Rashid, Broad, Swann, Anderson