Thursday, 4 June 2009

England are no more than dark horses

England's hopes of succeeding in the ICC World Twenty20 are on the up.

Only a few weeks ago England’s hopes of succeeding in the ICC World Twenty20 appeared slim. They had no coach, captain or consistent form. A hapless tournament in 2007 and poor overall Twenty20 form suggested the hosts would not feature in the latter stages.

Now, a few wins and managerial appointments later, England are suddenly in buoyant mood. They are in the position that often characterises national teams from this country going into a major tournament, that of unrealistic expectation.

The carnival atmosphere that surrounded England’s warm-up win over West Indies at Lord’s was part Ashes summer fever, part realisation that the home side played well enough to suggest they can go all the way.

It was a crushing win over the Windies, who continue to lurch form one mediocre defeat to another. England presented the key Twenty20 credentials that have eluded them for so long: a fast-scoring opening partnership, wicket-taking bowlers with good variation and efficient fielding that characterises a professional approach.

However, whilst it is true that England have more players in good form than they did in South Africa two years ago, when they won only once, against Zimbabwe, there should still be caution.

A product of that poor performance in 2007 is a difficult draw this time around. The two Super Eight groups of four are arranged according to seeding, not first round performance.

England are second tier seeds and as such will face India, Australia and South Africa (also seeded outside the top four) in phase two, as long as there are no major upsets. Points are not carried through from round one, so the clash with Pakistan is irrelevant, as long as both teams beat Netherlands.

Expecting England to win two of their three games against the tournament favourites is a tough ask, although it safe to say that the prospect is far more likely than it recently was.

1 comment:

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