England’s T20i series with South Africa in
February was widely regarded as one of the most entertaining that this format
has ever produced. Each game went to the last over, two matches were decided on
the final ball and over 1200 runs were scored.
It’s less than a year since Eoin Morgan’s side
won the 50 Over World Cup in dramatic fashion at Lord’s and England will start
among the favourites for the T20 version which takes place in Australia later
A historic double is certainly within the
grasp of this squad but what can we learn from that South Africa series and
does it suggest that England can triumph in both formats?
Selectors Under the Spotlight
It goes without saying that to win any tournament,
a side has to get their selection right. Aside from the notable absence of
Jofra Archer, England were almost at full strength for the South Africa series
so how did they fare in this respect?
The obvious question concerns the initial
preference for Joe Denly
over Dawid Malan. It would be unfair to suggest that Denly is a long-form
specialist and this is a man who has recorded four centuries in domestic T20
cricket. At international level, however, he’s averaging just 9.60 with a
strike rate under 97.00. Those figures are comfortably below the numbers
produced with Kent Spitfires and global T20 franchises
In contrast, Malan is averaging over 52 across
ten T20 internationals and the left hander produced England’s second century in
this format in the series with New Zealand. There were suggestions that Malan
was ‘rested’ for non-cricketing reasons but his return should give the batting
more potency in the crucial middle overs.
On a similar theme, could we see a recall for
Alex Hales? The Nottinghamshire Outlaw spent the Winter with Sydney Thunder and
finished the Big Bash as the tournament’s second highest run
scorer. Omitted from the 50 Over World Cup squad, Hales can put even more
pressure on the selectors to pick their best side if he maintains that form.
Latest cricket betting odds
from 888Sport show that England are 9/2 third favourites to win the T20 World
Cup in Australia this year. That price has remained constant but it would have
a better chance of converting if Captain Morgan has a fit and firing Jofra
Archer at his disposal.
The bowling attack that featured for England
against South Africa will have to find room for Archer whose heroics in the 50
Over Final underlined just how vital he is to the white ball team. England went
into that World Cup with the twin pace bowling spearhead of Archer and Mark
Wood and, assuming both men are fit, they will be certain starters in the T20
tournament. That would mean that either Tom Curran or Chris Jordan would have
to make way and that would be harsh on either man. Crucial death bowling from
Curran and Jordan helped get England across the line against the South Africans
but Archer is arguably the most vital player in the set up.
The selectors and national coach Chris
Silverwood would have been delighted to see Moeen Ali back in the starting XI.
The Worcester Rapids all-rounder played a crucial role in the second game as
his 39 from just 11 balls set up a winning total and the Man of the Match
Eoin Morgan will also play a key role in
boosting totals in the later overs but England have another question to resolve
at the top of the order. Jos Buttler has opened the innings with great success
for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League but wasn’t quite so effective
against South Africa. Buttler can be a devastating batsman but is his promotion
really worth splitting the Jason Roy / Jonny Bairstow partnership that was so
effective in the 50 over World Cup?
Can they do it?
T20 cricket matches can be won by fine
margins: New Zealand and India needed two Super Overs in
their recent series while that England and South Africa produced those two last
India and Australia are ahead of England in those
outright betting markets but the South Africa series underlined their quality
and resilience and few would bet against them completing a World Cup double.