Cricket World Twenty20, Group D, The Brit Oval 13.30
One man who surely won’t be falling into the trap of taking opposition lightly is Graeme Smith. After seeing what happened to England on Friday and watching an excellent batting performance by today’s opponents Scotland, against the Kiwi’s yesterday, Smith will surely be well on his guard to avoid any repeats today.
With no major international honours to his name so far, Smith will be feeling that this is surely a great chance for this to be his time. His team are vying with India and Australia for the title of best allround team in the World and he knows winning this tournament is a major step to gaining that recognition.
Youngsters like Steyn, de Villiers and Duminy are complementing the experience of Kallis, Boucher and Gibbs in what looks like a well balanced team with a good chance of going the whole way.
Scotland meanwhile know what is expected of them today. They need to win to have any chance of progressing and even then they will be relying on the out come of the final group match. After an impressive batting display against the Kiwi’s yesterday the Scot’s will be hoping for a repeat today but know they will have to improve their bowling and fielding to stand any chance of winning.
Yet again Paul Collingwood has presided over an English cricketing disaster. The defeat at the hands of Holland on Friday night could have already put England out of this tournament – on the first day! The arrogance shown towards the Dutch by whoever took the decision – Andy Flower, Collingwood, etc – was astounding.
About Pietersen, Collingwood said “We hope he’ll be fit for Sunday, but we’re obviously not going to take any major risks, simple as that. He’s involved in a big year ahead of us, but this is a must-win game on Sunday, and if he’s fit he’s playing.” What more proof do we need that their minds are on the Ashes and the Ashes only. They obviously haven’t learnt from their tour of West Indies.
Would Pietersen have played if it where an Ashes fixture or the Twenty20 Final? You decide. Yet again England seem to have turned up with their minds on other supposedly bigger and better things and took their eye of what was in front of them.
Before we get to the individual mistakes lets look at the team selection. Why were big hitters Graham Napier and Dimitri Mascarenhas left out of the team? With the exception of one Ravi Bopara innings, Mascarenhas is the only other English cricketer to have made an impact of any note in the IPL – the highest level of T20 cricket played in the World, with both bat and ball as well – yet he is constantly over-looked for One Day cricket by England.
Who is the brains of the England outfit who dosen’t rate Mascarenhas good enough for a starting place out of the players in this squad? Who was happy for England to have a middle order of Key, Morgan, and Foster with no big hitters, to leave out Mascarenhas was in my opinion a massive mistake. On a personal note I’m not a massive Napier fan, I believe he has got picked on the back of one innings only in last seasons domestic T20 so I show no bias in these comments, but even he might have been a better middle order prospect than what the England think tank gave us.
After initially not even picking Adil Rashid for the squad what has suddenly elevated him above Graeme Swann in the spin bowling department? Or was it yet more arrogance? Collingwood said in an interview afterwards “I guess we took a bit of a punt on Adil, he bowled exceptionally the other night, and he’s certainly a player for the future. Why not put him into a game like this?”, which suggests arrogance to me. If it’s true that Swann is nursing a bit of an injury I bet it won’t keep him out on Sunday.
Then we have the stat of just 14 boundaries in 20 overs! After the opening partnership the batting was a mess, poor shot selection again with batsmen chucking their wickets away – I’m well aware that you have to take risks in this form of cricket but Collingwood and Morgan got out to nothing shots. Five wickets outstanding at the end of the English innings and barely a boundary hit in the last 8 overs, great tactics!
Then we come to Broad’s last over. I’m not trying to single him out but between himself and Foster they missed four run outs in the last over alone, and there was a dropped catch in there as well.
Yet again no one alert enough in the field to back up at the bowlers end on the last ball with a 1 run needed to go to a six ball shoot-out, after the New Zealand last ball run out debacle last year will England ever learn? The ball dropped five yards from the bat and they manage to run 2, what is going on? Apart from all that it was actually a well bowled over.
After blowing the away series in West Indies and putting further participation in this tournament at risk already with worrying about the Ashes it might be advisable for England to try make up for things by winning them back.
Cricket World Twenty20, Group A, Trent Bridge 18.00
India get the defence of their title started when they take on Bangladesh at Trent Bridge in the opening Group A match this evening. After England’s shock defeat to Holland and New Zealand getting pushed close by Scotland, India will want to be on their guard to make sure there are no repeats. In a group which also includes Ireland the Indian’s will want to make sure they don’t take things too lightly and come unstuck – remembering their defeat to Bangladesh in the 2007, 50 over World Cup.
The Bangladesh bowling has been a bit weak in the build up, conceding 219 against Australia in a warm up match last week. They will be looking to their batsmen to set the tone with captain Mohammad Ashraful in decent form after his 69 against Holland.
If you fancy another upset Bangladesh can still be backed at 5/1, India are still the favourites in the tournament betting at 3/1.
Cricket World Twenty20, Group C, The Brit Oval 14.00
Australia will be looking to put a turbulent week behind them when they get their Twenty20 campaign started against West Indies at The Brit Oval today. After the latest Andrew Symonds incident Ricky Ponting will be happy to be just playing cricket again. This is the only tournament Australia have yet to win, warm up wins over Bangladesh and New Zealand are not great markers but you can only beat who is put in front off you.
West Indies will be hoping to put their disasterous series against England behind them. It remains to be seen if they get themselves out of the ‘we don’t want to be here’ mindset they seemed to be in against the English – if they can’t they could be embarressed here against the Aussies.
With David Warner and Chris Gayle at the top of their respective batting orders both innings could get off to explosive starts.
Cricket World Twenty20, Group D, The Brit Oval 10.00
New Zealand head into this tournament with some more than capable one day players. In captain Daniel Vettori, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum they have players with big match experience who could get into most sides in the world, the only thing missing which prevents them from being real contenders is that top class match winner – whether Ross Taylor or Jessie Ryder could step up and take that mantle remains to be seen. For anyone who thinks they can win the title they are still available at best odds of 9/1.
Scotland have never beat a Test playing nation in an ODI or Twenty20 match, they go into today’s game with no form after losing to Holland and England in warm up matches. The squad have put up a united front in the build up to this game with stories about them being unsettled after John Blain walked out after an argument with the captain Gavin Hamilton.
Former England international and Yorkshire all-rounder Gavin Hamilton is still Scotland’s main dangerman. With his experience if Scotland can manage to find themselves in the posititon where they are in with a chance of a win, don’t expect him to be intimidated by it.
No real value in backing England at 1/14. While it should be a walk in the park for the English, if the so-called smaller teams are going to cause an upset it is likely to be in the shorter form of the game and with the usual English weather predicting rain today Duckworth/Lewis could come into the reckoning – if the Dutch bat second possibly playing into their hands.
It’s hard to see England not now going with the opening partnership of Luke Wright and Ravi Bopara after their display against West Indies earlier in the week, it only really remains to be seen as to whether England go with two spinners or not.
The Dutch have proven performers within their ranks in Dirk Nannes and Ryan ten Doeschate. Nannes a left arm fast-medium bowler has played cricket for Aussie state side Victoria and also has played for Middlesex meaning he knows Lord’s well, ten Doeschate has been an Essex regular for a few seasons now and he knows the English players inside out.