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The Briefing

The only T20 World Cup preview you need to read

Here's the real truth about every team's chances of winning

Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell shake a leg, England v West Indies, World T20, final, Kolkata, April 3, 2016

"If Addison Rae can't copy it on TikTok, it's not worth doing it"  •  Getty Images

So you've probably read or watched a few men's T20 World Cup previews. Many will have been sober and informative summaries of where the teams stand. Others will have highlighted key players and tournament history. Yet more will have revealed strengths and weaknesses through elaborate data analysis.
Sadly, you've wasted your time. They are all trash compared to this preview.

West Indies

Motto: Eyeing title No. 3.
Sample dressing-room pep-talk: "Men, everyone knows what we are. We're T20 superstars who go off and have our own epic adventures before coming together in World Cup years. Yes, we have untold batting firepower, and bowling smarts, but maybe we're missing something. Some X-factor. When we won in 2012, it was the 'Gangnam Style dance. In 2016, it was Dwayne Bravo's 'Champion'. Who's got a single coming out this year? No one? Okay, it's panic stations. Everyone make a call to your choreographer."
How far they will go: Probably win it.


Motto: We live by grievance
Sample dressing-room pep talk: "Brothers, we know what's happened. We played a tour in New Zealand, and were made fun of around the world for opening our doors for biryani without our masks on, which, they say, broke their precious quarantine rules. How did they repay us? They ran from Pakistan without even giving a reason. And we went to England when their country was basically a petri dish of disease? How did they respond? Cancelled their tour. This time, these other teams can't run away from us. We know we have to win this tournament. We can show the world the spirit and unity of Pakistan cricket. It will be glorious. But first, obviously, play like trash for a few games. I don't want to see any of you jokers hold a catch, and if you can fight publicly among yourselves, that would also help."
How far they will go: Predict how Pakistan will do? Yeah, I'm not falling for this again.


Motto: Can you believe we have to play this s**t?
Sample dressing-room pep talk: "Oi. Mayte. What are we even doing here? Who bloody plays cricket in the UAE? Apart from the IPL, I mean (the highest form of the game, just to be clear). And what is this utter crap about us potentially having to play a match against Bangladesh, or West Indies, or maybe even bloody Scotland? Three weeks and there's only one match against England scheduled. And not a single scheduled game against India (the highest form of cricket team/human beings, not that it needed to be said)? Who organised this trash heap of a tour? Absolute shambles."
How far they will go: They'll hold it together until late in the group stage, but will eventually be overcome by their disgust at having to step on to a field with a team that should not be breathing the same air.

South Africa

Motto: This is our ti… wait, why are you laughing?
Sample dressing-room pep-talk: "People can say what they like, but only we know how hard we've worked for this. We've won seven matches in a row. Who's coming in with a better lead-up than that? We've got one of the best quicks in the world in KP… I mean KG. And not to mention the top-ranked T20I bowler in the world in… what's your name, brother? Shamsi - that's the one. We even have AB. Wait, no, we don't, do we? You know what? It's not easy giving these pep talks fellas, everyone's attention is on me all of a sudden. Can someone get me a glass of water? God, is it me, or is it really stuffy in here?" dry retches
How far they will go: They'll be in line for a semi-final spot. Keep the popcorn handy.

New Zealand

Motto: Are you ready for a cuddle?
Sample dressing-room pep talk: "Hi everyone. I'm Kane Williamson. I know I've been the captain of the team for five years, but I didn't want any of you to feel as if you should automatically know who I am. I'm not that entitled. I want to thank you for pushing pause on each of your charity causes to join us here in the UAE for this tournament. Let's just go out there, enjoy ourselves, compete hard, but when it comes to the post-match fist bumps, let's really put the effort in to make all our opponents and their support staff feel truly seen for who they are as people."
How far they'll get: You wouldn't bet against them to get to the semis. You shouldn't bet against them anyway, you monster.


Motto: We've been trying to tell you we're serious.
Sample dressing-room pep talk: "Come on everyone. I thought we were past this. We're big boys now. We've got one of the greatest short-format allrounders. We have an incredible left-arm seamer, another bowler who regularly clocks speeds of over 140kph, plus experienced batters through the middle. We should be looking down our noses at the lesser teams. We can't be embarrassing ourselves in front of the Associates again. Big boys."
How far they will go: A group-stage exit followed by a board-ordered inquiry at home.


Motto: Shastri + Kohli: Don't cry because it's ending. Smile because it happened.
Sample dressing-room pep talk: "Boys! We've come to our last campaign with me in charge. It's been quite the journey. Kohli hit his first hundred in England under my watch. It was with me at the helm that he became the fastest batter to 12,000 ODI runs. These are all things we've achieved together. Of course there are jealous people out there who have constantly tried to run me down as a coach, accusing me of things like being Kohli's yes man. Don't these idiots realise that right from the start, Virat told me I could say no to him if I wanted? But he doesn't have an ICC trophy as captain. Let's go out and win this for him. That's what you want, right, skipper?"
How far they will go: Losing finalists.

Sri Lanka

Motto: Would you believe it if we said we won this seven years ago?
Sample dressing-room pep-talk: via phone call from Colombo "Hello. Answer, will you? HELLO! This bloody phone. Always on mute. Ah, you can hear? Look, us administrators have given you players everything you could possibly need. We've barely badmouthed you in the press this year. We were kind enough to let you have some contracts. We even organised a domestic T20 tournament that lasted a whole two weeks. If you fellows can't even bring back a World Cup after that kind of backing from your cricket board, you shouldn't be calling yourselves cricketers. We've already booked our hotel rooms to come there for the knockouts, so don't screw it up, ah? Goodbye! .... Oof, that call really worked up an appetite. Where's that cake? What? Is this call still going? Useless phone never does what I want..."
How far they will go: Not very.


Motto: We probably won't quit this tour. No promises, though.
Sample dressing-room pep-talk: "How's everyone feeling? No, really, did anyone see any red flags on the way here? Geez, baggage claim at the airport was a nightmare, wasn't it? Unacceptable. We're doing the ICC a favour by staying on, really. And from the team bus I saw a guy in the distance just sneezing away. That's not sanitary in this day and age. We left South Africa for less, almost. Oh dear, what was that racket? Did a bat just fall to the floor? That's it. I've seen enough. Pack up, everyone. We're out of here."
How far they will go: Depends on how real karma is.


Motto: Deep existential dread
Sample dressing-room pep talk: "Look, it's time to focus on the cricket. Yes, it's been an atrocious few months for our country. Yes, our barely functional women's team has probably been banned from playing. Our cricket board has had its chairman replaced by the Taliban. Australia refused to play a Test against us and our series against Pakistan was postponed. And although we may be cricket's biggest success story in the 21st century, who knows how long we'll be allowed to continue in international cricket, and there were questions even over our involvement in this tournament, and argh, oh wow, this is a lot."
How far they will go: With any luck, upsets will be sprung.


Motto: Eat the rich
Sample dressing room pep talk: "Right. You all know what's waiting for us out there. Ten Full-Member fat-cat nations, gorging themselves on their plump ICC cheques, becoming snobbier and snobbier every year. Lads, let's get out there and show them what playing for Scotland is all about. We may not have their resources, but the fight in us is bigger… wait, hold that thought, I have to take this call. (speaking on phone) Oh, hello there. So listen, I'm really sorry but I'm going to need another two weeks off…."
How far they will go: They might juuust have one more upset in them.


Motto: Zimbabwe who?
Sample dressing room pep talk: "Who would have thought we'd make it to the Super 12? No one. But we're here, boys. We've shown the world what we can do, and now it's time to seize this moment. We've got a shot that we barely dared to dream about. A golden opportunity to advance Namibian cricket by light years. By which I mean the chance to get as close as possible to the South Africa players, so we can lure a bunch of them over to play for Namibia in World Cups down the line."
How far they will go: You'd hate to think they've won their last game.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf