Are England lucky to get through to the Super Eights stage of the ICC World Twenty20 after their tentative batting display against Ireland?
No, I think that would be too harsh a judgement. For a start, England were definitely unlucky with the weather in their first match against the West Indies. They would have been robbed had they gone out at this stage.
I agree with Paul Collingwood, who said after seeing West Indies chase down their Duckworth/Lewis target of 60 from six overs that England would have won that game with their 20-over total of 191 at least 95 per cent of the time if a full game had been played.
Also, if a full game had been possible against Ireland, I reckon England would have been able to defend their 120. The pitch was totally different to the one on which the West Indies game had been played, and I’m not sure that Ireland would have had the overall batting strength to have got those runs.
If their target had been reduced by a Duckworth/Lewis situation, however, then anything could have happened – and so, for that reason, I suppose England can be thankful that the rain was heavy and consistent enough to deny Ireland the chance to get back out there for a few more overs.
It is ridiculous, though, that the rain in Guyana has determined so many outcomes of matches. I’m not sure why matches were scheduled here when, at this time of year, rain is perfectly possible. The ICC have just about got away with it, though, as no giant-killing occured as a result of the weather.
What are England’s chances in the Super Eights?
I think England have one huge thing going for them, and that’s Eoin Morgan. He has been simply outstanding in both initial games, and has already built on his excellent reputation coming into this event. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that he is potential tournament-winning performer, and he is ideally suited to coming in at number five.
He has shown against the West Indies and Ireland just how adaptable he is; he can tear bowling attacks apart and score as fast as anyone, and he can work the ball around – as he had to do against Ireland – when the pitch is not as suitable for strokeplay.
His placement of the ball, his quick running between the wickets, and his intelligence, helps to make him a considerable one-day batsman, together with his incredibly inventive strokemaking ability and the remarkable power he can also get into some of his shots. Morgan really is a man for all seasons, and a tremendous asset to England.
I also like the look of Kiewetter and Lumb at the top of the order. They are both powerful and can hit regularly over the infield in the early overs, and both look dangerous players if they get in.
England’s bowling and fielding has been fine so far, too, although there is still a bit of an issue over the new ball bowling. England have gone for Sidebottom over Anderson so far because his Twenty20 record is very good, and his left-arm angle is useful when he swings the ball into the batsman’s boots.
But I think they need to look closely at how they are planning to bowl in those early overs, as well as who they want to do so.
Who else is catching your eye so far and what about the tournament itself?
New Zealand look very good to me, with all their all-rounders and big-hitters and the variety of their bowling. Sri Lanka were popular favourites before the tournament but Muttiah Muralitharan’s injury and withdrawal has hit them hard.
It seems a little odd that the initial stage of the event only involves two matches – especially as bad weather can skew things a lot, as potentially could have been the case especially in Guyana.
Why not just have two groups of six, with everyone playing five initial matches before going to quarter-finals or, indeed, semi-finals? But I suppose the ICC want to have a Super Eights format, as that also applies in the 50-over World Cup.
Whatever, the tournament proper really starts with the Super Eights and, personally, I am very much looking forward to getting to Barbados!