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With one big hitter out due to broken relationships, another big hitter out due to a broken wrist, thanks to launching one especially big hit at a Barbados locker, a captain who has had a fourth or fifth injection to manage a knee condition (does no one keep count?) and after a seemingly endless string of defeats, is there any cause for optimism for the England World Twenty20 squad? Of course there is, because what is cricket all about if not taking the positives?
England players seem incapable of discussing the T20 World Cup without stating that it's all about who has momentum. Cricketers are also pretty generous to themselves in how they feel momentum is generated. England may have lost a series against West Indies and then a warm-up match against the same opponents, but as far as they're concerned, they took momentum from the last match in the series, and warm-ups don't count, so they still have momentum. Conversely, West Indies think the dead rubber doesn't count, so they have taken enormous momentum from a series win and then a subsequent warm-up victory. The upshot is that pretty much every team at this World Cup is going to be arriving at it carrying extraordinary momentum. The resultant collision doesn't bear thinking about.
T20 cricket is famously unpredictable. No sane person is predicting an England win, but pretty much every other team has been tipped by someone or other. If the format truly is unpredictable, that leaves only one possible winner.
The optimum number of good players
Stuart Broad says that "in Test cricket, you need eight or nine guys to have a really good game, in T20 you need two or three max". That last word is vital. Three is the maximum you need. If four or five players perform really well, you will lose. Unlike most of the other teams in the tournament, England have the luxury of only having maybe three or four players who are even capable of a good game. Uniquely, they are in no real danger of exceeding Broad's threshold.
As everyone knows, it's vital to have bowling options in the shortest format. With no first-choice bowlers to speak of, England have plenty of options. Pretty much anybody could be brought on to bowl. It really doesn't matter who they choose. They could easily surprise the opposition by giving Jos Buttler an over because he almost certainly wouldn't do any worse than Jade Dernbach.
The Bopara deception
If there is one bowler who does stand out, it's Ravi Bopara, who appears to have devised an incredibly economical way of bowling, based around misleading the batsman into thinking he's about to pull out of his run-up. Watch him. From first step to delivery stride, he looks like he's about to abort. The batsman is invariably surprised each time the ball is actually delivered.
You can't write any team off in T20
If this is true - and a great many people maintain that it is - then what would happen if someone wrote several hundred words for ESPNcricinfo basically writing a particular team off? Wouldn't the team in question by definition be obliged to prove that person wrong?
Alex Bowden blogs at King CricketFeeds: Alex Bowden
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