England will enter the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka as defending champions, but without the player who was their star performer in the last edition: Kevin Pietersen. The way ahead without Pietersen, the player of the tournament in 2010, was always likely to be fraught, and the distinctly uncongested T20 international fixture list means that they have hardly had a chance to come to terms with it, writes Stephen Brenkley in the Independent.

England are still clinging desperately to the fond hope that their young brigade will come good in the nick of time. Alex Hales made 99 earlier in the summer, the highest T20 score for England; Jonny Bairstow has already revealed his credentials; Jos Buttler is finding it hard to make a mark of any kind so far in international cricket. The last match tonight in the NatWest Series, no more than a sequence of glorified warm-ups, may see matters change for the better. England need to reach Sri Lanka and hope that things will somehow come together in their two warm-ups.

Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo