Twenty20 Preview: England’s last chance to salvage some pride
Finally the torment is almost over. A tour that has yielded just one victory so far over Australia is almost at an end. After a Test series that for the most part resembled Drederick Tatum v Homer Simpson, and a One Day Series where England looked like they’d forgotten how to win; England embark on the final part of this mammoth tour, a three match Twenty20 series which has plenty riding on it.
Not only is it a chance to finally beat Australia in a series and add a touch of dignity to a tour which will surely go down as one of the worst in living memory, this series also provides both teams with a chance to build for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh which is just two months away.
India – 4.50
Australia – 6.00
South Africa – 6.50
Pakistan – 7.00
Sri Lanka – 7.00
West Indies – 7.00
England – 8.00
(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)
Due to the ridiculous nature of international cricket scheduling (Australia tour South Africa next month); the hosts have made several changes to their squad. Several senior players have been rested including Shane Watson and David Warner, but the team still looks fairly strong.
George Bailey has proven himself to be both an accomplished leader and batsman in the shorter formats of the game. Glenn Maxwell may well be a filthy slogger but he is very good at what he does and England will be fearful of the ‘The Big Show’ teeing off. There’s also Aaron Finch who decimated the England attack with a brutal 156 off just 63 balls in the first T20 against England back in August.
England’s squad generally looks quite youthful and shows continuity as they build to the World Cup. They will be led by Stuart Broad who can enjoy his customary raucous welcome from the Australian fans. Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan will be looking to carry on their form from the ODIs as England’s two most destructive batsmen. After excelling throughout the tour, Ben Stokes is also part of the squad and is remarkably still showing no signs of struggling with the demands of international cricket. There’s also aggressive opener Alex Hales who is one of three members of the England squad who have been involved in Australia’s Twenty20 Big Bash League this winter.
England’s bowling will be a bit of a worry with Australia’s super aggressive approach under coach Darren Lehmann. There’s plenty of experience in the seam attack with Broad and Tim Bresnan, however England are weak in the spin department. Bowling spin for England has not been a fun experience on this tour. Every English spinner has been targeted and duly despatched and this is almost certain to continue in this series.
If the earlier series in England is anything to go by, these games should be high-scoring. Australia will be confident of continuing their success and start the series as heavy favourites. However their squad isn’t as strong as the one that drew 1-1 with England in August and I would expect this series to be quite tight.
If England can break the shackles, they have every chance of winning. They have the experience and the quality to turn over this Australia side. What remains to be seen is whether they can overcome the mental scarring that this nightmarish tour has indelibly left on English cricket.
England need to learn to win again, with the Twenty20 World Cup just around the corner; now would be a good time to start.
LIAM McCONVILLE is an avid cricket fan, a hapless village cricketer and a Yorkshireman with an irrational hatred of Jade Dernbach. He rants about the game he loves at http://www.fortyballduck.blogspot.co.uk/ and @FortyBallDuck on Twitter.