England cling to hope that T20 history repeats itself

 

When England began the last World Twenty20, the planning looked as though it had been done on the back of a fag packet. They had two debutant openers, another bloke returning after three years and six players in all who had not been around two matches before.

A fortnight later they won the tournament racing away from the pack. They were easily the best team there and played vibrantly, imaginatively and fearlessly with that trio of Craig Kieswetter, Michael Lumb and Mike Yardy all instrumental. The squad survivors – and there are eight – would do well to remember those heady days of 2010 in the Caribbean which brought England their first and so far only triumph in a major limited-overs competition. Otherwise, there might already be cause for despair.

England leave for Sri Lanka tomorrow after playing a final T20 today in Birmingham against South Africa uncertain of their best team. They must be absolutely sure that they are travelling without their best player.

As a result of the way it went last time, there is still a realistic hope that things might swiftly change and that from this combination of men a formidable spirit and shape will emerge. It is not looking likely.

The way ahead without Kevin 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. Pietersen dramatically announced his retirement from all limited-overs cricket at the end of May.

He has cast a cloud over all England's dealings since and, although he has renounced that decision, he remains in discussions and at loggerheads with his employers, the England and Wales Cricket Board. England have regularly uttered the usual mantra that his absence offers somebody else an opportunity – always true in sport – but everything about their defence of the title was geared to him being there.

It is a greater hindrance that Ravi Bopara has chosen this month to be in the worst form of his life. Bopara's significance to the team grew with Pietersen's exit and now on the eve of the competition he has been dropped because he is in such a poor state at the crease.

This leaves a gaping hole in the middle order. Presumably, England intend to fill it with Luke Wright, who batted at No 3 in the second, curtailed T20 against South Africa on Monday.

Wright has had a successful season opening the batting for Sussex in the domestic Twenty20, in which he made 312 runs at the impressive strike rate of 160. But however great the goodwill that Wright generates, it is impossible to see him bringing to the team at No 3 what Pietersen did.

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.

Their first match in the tournament proper is against Afghanistan, easily winnable, all too losable for a side unsure of itself. If the bowling does not immediately come to terms with Sri Lankan pitches, England will be in huge trouble.

With all this going on, the selectors met yesterday to discuss the squad for the Test tour of India. Pietersen would have exercised them only if he had suddenly become available and he did not.

There was the added difficulty of finding a new opening batsman to replace the retired Andrew Strauss. By the time they had sat down, two of the candidates – Joe Root and Michael Carberry – were out in the final round of Championship matches. Apart from their obvious use as planning aid, the fag packets might also have been needed so their contents could calm nerves.

Edgbaston details

England (from): S C J Broad, (capt), J M Bairstow, R S Bopara, T T Bresnan, D R Briggs, J C Buttler, J W Dernbach, S T Finn, A D Hales, C Kieswetter (wkt), M J Lumb, E J G Morgan, S R Patel, G P Swann, L J Wright.

South Africa (from): A B de Villiers (capt/wkt), H M Amla, F Behardien, J Botha, JP Duminy, F du Plessis, J H Kallis, R E Levi, J A Morkel, M Morkel, J L Ontong, W D Parnell, R J Peterson, D W Steyn, L L Tsotsobe.

Umpires R Illingworth & R Bailey.

TV Sky Sports 1, 6-10pm. Highlights: Channel 5, 12-1am.

Weather Overcast with intermittent sun. Maximum temperature: 13C.

Odds: England Evens. S Africa 4-5.

South Africa lead three-match series 1-0 ahead of tonight's final game.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor