With the ICC World Twenty 20 tournament already underway in Bangladesh, I post my thoughts on what the XI should be, bearing in mind that Root and Stokes (and KP) are all unavailable. These selections are from the England Squad that has been named here.
Openers – Michael Lumb and Alex Hales:
These two Nottinghamshire batsman have been playing together for a few years now and in this time should have developed an understand. With 1285 runs between them in 50 games, these two have cemented their places at the top of the order for the past few years, and apart from Michael Carberry, there doesn’t seem to be anyone in domestic cricket knocking on the door to replace either of these players. Hales is the number 2 ranked international T20 player in the world, and Lumb has had a very good tour of the West Indies in the last month, so confidence should be high. Typically, for Nottinghamshire Outlaws, this opening partnership is nothing short of lightning quick. In the Friends Life T20 2013, Hales and Lumb had strike rates of 146 and 165 respectively, each with 2 fifties and plenty of sixes.
Number 3 –Moeen Ali:
Moeen Ali may have only just made his England debut on the recent tour to the West Indies, but he seems to have carried himself extraordinarily well. His batting wasn’t as impressive as some of us who have seen him in domestic cricket had hoped, but his performance with the ball was something to be excited about. In the absence of Joe Root (broken thumb), Ali offers a steady head at the top of the order as well as some more than useful off spin, and on the turning Bangladeshi pitches Ali could really become a key player throughout the tournament. Ali has 1500 domestic T20 runs at an average of 22 as well as 43 wickets with a best of 5/34, probably better figures than any other England bowler has achieved. I’ve put him at number 3 in my team because I want my ‘sloggers’ coming in at 5,6,7 and my steady heads at 3 and 4.
Number 4 – Eoin Morgan:
Eoin Morgan is easily England’s most dangerous batsman. The Irish born left-hander is not only brilliantly innovative with his reverse sweeps, but he is also surprisingly powerful for such a small man. He is just shy of 1000 runs in T20’s for England, with 4 fifties and a very healthy strike rate of 130. But his most telling statistic is the number of ‘not outs’, showing that Morgan is the man who keeps a level head and sees his team over the line.
Number 5 – Jos Buttler:
England’s current limited overs wicketkeeper Jos Buttler has set the game alight over the past 2/3 years with his inventive shots and powerful hitting at the death. England have desperately missed a ‘finisher’ in one-day cricket recently and Buttler has all the right qualities to fill this vacant gap. Buttler had a successful trip to Australia over the winter, scoring handy runs for Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League and also chipping in with runs in the series against Australia, as well as scoring heavily on the ongoing tour to the West Indies. English cricket fans know what Buttler can do and the newly signed Lancashire man will be looking to increase his already glowing reputation in Bangladesh.
Number 6 – Luke Wright:
Luke Wright has played 51 T20’s for England, only one short of Stuart Broad, which fascinates me. Wright seems to be an ever present without ever consistently performing, but when he does perform it is well worth the wait. He is one of only 3 in the England squad to have scored a T20 hundred when he was in Australia for the inaugural Big Bash League. In the past year, Wright has really impressed me in one-day cricket. He scored a blistering hundred for the England Lions as well as a few for Sussex, as well as scoring heavily and quickly for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash over the winter. His medium pacers also come in handy, but it is his destructive batting which seals his place at number 6 in my team.
Number 7 – Ravi Bopara:
Ravi’s place in my team is cemented by his decieving medium pacers. On his batting alone I wouldn’t include Ravi (despite him having a T20 hundred to his name) but his skiddy bowling action and tricky slower balls add another dimension to his performance. Ravi is a seasoned T20 cricketer with over 150 domestic and international games under his belt, as well as 3000 runs and almost 100 wickets. In the past few years, Ravi has improved his ‘slogging’ ability vastly and on many occasions has proved that he can clear the ropes when it matters and propel his team forward when they most need it.
Number 8 – Chris Jordan:
Chris Jordan’s statistics aren’t very flattering, but anyone who follows County Cricket knows how highly this young man is rated, and we saw on the West Indies tour glimpses of his brilliance. He bowled at a good pace which troubled the top order, he took some blinding catches and he also hit 4 sixes off the last over of an innings to push his team forward to what ended up as a winning total. His 27* off 9 balls and 3/39 including 2 catches saw him grab the player of the match award in the final T20 on his home island of Barbados. Jordan’s future is very bright and we hope he can deliver the goods in Bangladesh later this month.
Number 9 – Tim Bresnan:
‘Bresy Lad’ as he is affectionately known is the only Yorkie in my team, but I’m hoping he can channel his inner Trueman during the tournament and pin a few batsmen to the sidescreen with his pace. Bresy Lad didn’t have the greatest tour to the West Indies as his death bowling was found wanting slightly, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy all climbed into Bresnan at the end of the innings whenever he didn’t find a yorker or mixed his length up. Bresnan will hold the key to England’s bowling display in Bangladesh. You would think that it would be Bresnan, Broad or Jordan to bowl the final overs, and these few overs are vital to the game. England need to find a plan when it comes to death bowling, set a field to it and execute it well (sounds easy enough right?)
Number 10 – Stuart Broad:
Stuart Broad, England’s captain for the ICC World T20, is easily the best T20 bowler in the England squad. Broad has the most international T20 caps for England and in these 52 matches, he has 61 wickets at an average of 22 and an economy of 7.5. Broad’s telling contribution to his team’s performance with the ball will be how he bowls at the death. He has used the plan before of bowling well outside off stump from around the wicket, but that seems to have been forgotten in the England camp. As I said before with Tim Bresnan, England need a clear death bowling plan. For me, that is bowling consistent leg stump yorkers with third man and fine leg up. Just yesterday on Sky Sports, Kieron Pollard was saying that consistent yorkers are what the batsmen do not want to face at the end of an innings.
Number 11 – James Tredwell:
James Tredwell will be England’s main spinner this tournament. With Graeme Swann’s sudden retirement over the winter, Tredwell quickly became England’s number one spinner. Moeen Ali will no doubt share some of the overs, and with Stephen Parry waiting in the wings, England have another spinner to draft in if the pitches start turning out in Bangladesh, but there is a huge amount of responsibility on Tredwell’s shoulders. He hasn’t quite made the transition from domestic T20 cricket to international T20 cricket though. 96 wickets in 117 games in domestic cricket and 5 wickets in 11 games in international cricket isn’t very flattering, but he is much better bowler and definitely the number one spinner in my XI.