ICC World Twenty20 – Group D PreviewJames Nixon |
Ganesh Venkat, Martyn Corrin & William Quinn
West Indies Squad
Chris Gayle (captain), Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Andre Fletcher, Wavell Hinds, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jerome Taylor
The West Indies find themselves in a relatively easy group compared to the last edition when they were drawn in the “group of death” with Sri Lanka and Australia, largely owing to their dismal campaign in the 2007 tournament where they lost to both Bangladesh and South Africa. They still managed to qualify for the semis beating India and England on the way. However the task should be easy this time with Ireland and England in their group, they should sail smoothly in to the Super 8’s stage.
Interestingly, West Indies are one of the three teams to have notched up totals in excess of 200 twice in T20’s. If that was not enough, the belligerent Chris Gayle is amongst the two players to have scored an international T20 hundred. Added to that he is one of the most devastating batsmen in modern day cricket and is ideally suited for this version of the game and if he can fire consistently, that is going to do a lot of good for the West Indies. They have reasonable depth in their batting with brilliant stroke makers exhibiting typical Caribbean flair which should help them attack and be aggressive throughout the entire duration of the twenty overs. Nevertheless, they will be heavily dependent on the experienced trio of Chris Gayle, Shiv Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan in addition to Narsingh Deonarine, who has shown that he has a cool head on his shoulders with his performances last year. He is a free-flowing stroke maker who can chip in with the ball if required.
It remains a question mark as to who will partner Gayle at the top. Andre Fletcher looks the most likely but his recent returns do not inspire confidence. The best case for West Indies is to let Chanderpaul open and play his attacking game which would benefit them instead of Fletcher opening. Chanderpaul is yet to prove his worth in this version of the game, but we all know what he is capable of and has shown in the past that he can match Gayle stroke for stroke in the opening position especially if he is in an attacking mode. Ramnaresh Sarwan returns after a long lay-off and appeared solid if not spectacular in some of his innings against Ireland and Canada. The presence of Dwayne Bravo should be a great boost for the West Indies; he is one player who has abundant enthusiasm and spirit. With his inspirational fielding, attacking batting and death bowling he can turn matches in a blink of an eye. The most expensive player of this year’s IPL Kieran Pollard is the one to watch and going by his form and hitting prowess that he showed in the IPL Pollard is certainly bound to play an innings of massive importance during the tourney. Dinesh Ramdin has been tidy behind the stumps while proving to be an innovative player in the T20’s, however his batting has gone down the drain in recent times.
Their bowling is led by Kemar Roach, who did not make a great impact in IPL. However he is a genuine prospect and one to watch out for.With the impact left arm-spinners are making in T20, the gigantic Suleiman Benn and the diminutive Nikita Miller should be more than useful on slow and low Caribbean wickets. Jerome Taylor returning from injury and his off-field shenanigans should be raring to go in the shorter form and should be ready to fire on all cylinders. Darren Sammy has been one player who has improved a lot, he is not an icon or a star player but with his work ethic and nagging accuracy he can be a handful with the ball and his late hitting should come in handy during the later stages of the innings. The West Indian bench appears reasonably strong with Ravi Rampaul and Wavell Hinds.T heir inconsistent fielding is an area of concern, they can field like tigers one day and resemble a rag-tag club team the very next day.
West Indies have beaten England on more than one occasion in T20 games and should not have any trouble disposing the Irish. It is the second round that would really be the litmus test for the West Indies with them potentially taking on power houses India, Sri Lanka and Australia. If they can come unscathed from that group and reach the semis, buoyed by their partisan supporter they should be favorites to lift the trophy and become the first team in history to lift a major ICC event as hosts. Nevertheless, we have seen West Indies start off spectacularly only to self-destruct. However I predict West Indies to be one of the favorites to lift the trophy.
Players to Watch: Chris Gayle, Kieoron Pollard, Ramnaresh Sarwan
Paul Collingwood (capt), James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Kevin Pietersen, Ajmal Shahzad, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy
As is a theme in many different world sports, Twenty20 was invented in England but England have failed to adapt to the format in the international arena. Their history in the short game is one of inconsistency; two-match series against Pakistan and South Africa produced a win and a loss in each recently. Last year’s competition saw England humiliated by the Netherlands and destroyed by South Africa, whilst efficiently disposing of Pakistan and ousting India in a fantastic performance. They were knocked out in controversial circumstances against the West Indies as the rain curtailed the West Indian chase and saw their target reduced to what some felt was a highly favourable total.
The squad mixes experience amidst some names who will have not had much exposure outside England. They have one of the strongest attacks in the competition, with James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann all successful Twenty20 performers. England will also be expected to bat deep, with the aforementioned Broad and Swann edging into all-rounder territory along with names such as Time Bresnan, Luke Wright and Michael Yardy, as well as skipper Paul Collingwood, a genuine all-rounder in this format. The middle order contains explosive players such as Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan. Skippe
Craig Kieswetter gets a go with the gloves after impressing on the tour to Bangladesh. Michael Lumb, an opening batsman, and fast-bowler Ajmal Shahzad are a couple of unknown quantities for a lot of viewers, whilst Ravi Bopara returns to the international stage after a decent IPL.
Players to Watch
Kevin Pietersen: Pietersen heads to the tournament in stellar form. He had a successful IPL, – he had the highest average of any player featuring in the World Twenty20. After a difficult 2009 for his country he will be looking to take this form into the tournament – he showed signs of recovery in the Tests against Bangladesh, and he is essential to England’s cause. It is hard to imagine England having a good tournament if Pietersen doesn’t fire.
Eoin Morgan: Morgan has made a name for himself over the last twelve months, since defecting from Ireland, largely due to his destructive performances in the fifty over game. Along with Pietersen and Collingwood, Morgans forms an effective middle order for England, one of the strongest they have had in the Twenty20 game. He came of age with a breathtaking one-day century against Bangladesh recently and could well be one of the real stars of this year’s tournament. He didn’t feature much in 2009 and will be looking to do so here.
Stuart Broad: Most will probably remember Broad’s Twenty20 contributions in a negtative light – he was hit for six sixes in an over against Indian in 2007 and some fielding mishaps helped Netherlands to upset the hosts last year. He had an impressive economy rate of 6.5 last year and has a knack at taking wickets in the shorter game from innocuous deliveries,.He sometimes employs a unique round the wicket style in this format – critics have been disappointed at the negativity of this tactic, but it has been generally effective.
WTS Porterfield (captain), AC Botha, P Connell, AR Cusack, G Dockrell, DT Johnston, NG Jones, GE Kidd, JF Mooney, KJ O’Brien, NJ O’Brien, PR Stirling, WB Rankin, AR White, GC Wilson.
Advancing to the second group stage of three consecutive ICC tournaments would have seemed absurd to Ireland on the eve of the 2007 World Cup. The country achieved ODI status for the first time only in 2006, largely as a result of the runs of Ed Joyce who had subsequently left for England, and were making their first ever appearance in cricket’s flagship event. Yet since their surprise success in that tournament, the team has continued to improve to the point where several key figures in Cricket Ireland are calling for the country to be promoted to full member status- an unthinkable prospect barely four years ago.
Yet the upcoming World Twenty20 brings arguably an even greater opportunity for Irish cricket. For while test cricket in Ireland is the country’s stated long-term goal, what everyone involved in Irish cricket really wants is to beat England for the first time in their history. To do so at a major tournament- potentially knocking England out in the process- is something every cricketer in Ireland (including the Aussies) has fantasised about as a boy. With the draw pitting the two countries against each other, it’s a rare opportunity they’ll be disappointed to miss.
First up is the West Indies, and while their unpredictability gives some hope, Ireland have struggled in previous encounters between the two sides. They can look to the famous tour match of 1969- when Ireland dismissed a West Indian side featuring Clive Lloyd for 25 all out- for inspiration, but an unwanted side-effect of Ireland’s emergence as the leading Associate is that teams are unlikely to underestimate them as drastically as the West Indies did on that day. But forty years later a recurrence is well overdue, and if they can remove Chris Gayle early, the Irish will fancy their chances of an upset.
The squad has seen little change since the previous trophy in England last summer. Veteran left-arm spinner Kyle McCallan has retired, to be replaced by the talented 17-year-old George Dockrell. 19-year-old Paul Stirling has emerged as a key figure at the top of the order and looks to be hitting form at the right time with a 41-ball 57 against Trinidad and Tobago in Ireland’s last warm-up match.
Other than that, the side remains predominantly the same. The return of seamer Boyd Rankin is a massive boost, and with Trent Johnston still going strong at the tender age of 35, early wickets are a distinct possibility. Australian-born Alex Cusack, should he recover from a shin injury in time for the tournament, specialises in death bowling and is key to limiting the damage in the final few overs. Anything in between is likely to be bowled by the medium pace of all-rounders Andre Botha and Kevin O’Brien, but given the depth of the batting they may instead opt to play a genuine wicket-taker in Peter Connell (currently averaging 15 in T20 internationals).
The batting is propped up by captain William Porterfield at the top of the order alongside Paul Stirling. The necessary power comes from Niall and Kevin O’Brien, both of whom starred in Ireland’s victory over Bangladesh in England last June. Veteran Andre Botha gives the middle order some stability alongside Gary Wilson, with John Mooney and Trent Johnston looking to provide some quality down the order. Andrew White will have the opportunity to once again showcase his variety of sweep shots, if the all-rounder is selected.
Ireland’s main strength, and the key to whether they can cause an upset, lies in their ability to perform as a unit. Should each member of the side fulfil their role they can match any opposition, but they are still an Associate side and can ill afford to carry any dead wood. The draw presents a fantastic chance to once again make the cricketing world sit up and take notice. Whether Ireland can take it remains to be seen.
Players to watch: Niall O’Brien, Kevin O’Brien, Boyd Rankin.