England look to revive spirit of the Caribbean

The Twenty20 champions of the world are at last in action again today. England, unexpected but thrilling winners in the West Indies in May, will play their immediate predecessors as champions, Pakistan.

In normal circumstances the match in Cardiff, to be followed by another on Tuesday, would be an event to relish. During their victories both teams – Pakistan won the World T20 in England last summer – showed all that was good about the shortest form of the game and provided memories to savour for a thousand years.

Unfortunately, this has been overshadowed by the latest match- rigging scandal to rock the game. The tourists will have only 13 players to pick from for the brief series, three of their original party having been suspended by the International Cricket Council on Thursday night for their part in alleged corrupt activities during the Fourth Test at Lord's. Against such a backdrop it is impossible to anticipate today's match with much enthusiasm. This is a huge pity for a multitude of reasons, one of which is the feeling that England have never truly been accorded due appreciation for their victory.

Their crushing defeat of Australia by seven wickets in the final was the climax to a rip-roaring couple of weeks in which Paul Collingwood's side showed a clean pair of heels to the rest of the world. It was heady stuff because England, in two previous World T20 tournaments, had never remotely suggested they were capable of playing like this.

In its way, it was distinctly un-English (more easily accomplished perhaps given the key presence in the batting order of three South Africans and an Irishman) but their bold, selfless striking and their mutual trust, allied to some highly skilful and thoughtful bowling, was almost a thing of wonder. For most of the 2009 event in England, similar qualities applied to Pakistan.

There is no doubt that T20 could form a significant bridge to Test cricket for young fans, but the game's authorities appear content to ration it. This may be no bad thing since cricket has for too long shown the art of having too much of a good thing in terms of the 50-over series that are still played round the world with, it seems, gay abandon. T20 has, it seems, found its natural home based on club or city franchises, as embodied by the Indian Premier League.

The difficulties of policing this, however, could cause untold difficulties for the game. It emerged in India last week that their income tax department claim to have found evidence suggesting that the (suspended) IPL founder and commissioner, Lalit Modi, used 80 crore rupees (£11.1m), part of the television rights deal, to fund his own private jet. This sort of sum dwarfs the £150,000 that the News of the World says it paid a middleman, Mazhar Majeed, to ensnare Pakistan cricketers in an illegal betting ring.

That day in May at the Kensington Oval will seem a world away for England but they should recall enough of it to start as favourites. There follows, inevitably, a series of five one-day internationals, beginning next Friday in Durham, by which time Pakistan will have replaced their missing trio.

These matches at the fag end of an interminable season seem too much. The idea of playing a one-day international in England on 22 September – or indeed one in the far north of Chester-le-Street on 10 September – seems to be the workings of the mind of a mad fixtures scheduler.

With the World Cup in India next year, the series also happens to be an important part of both teams' development. England sprang a surprise by dropping Kevin Pietersen from their squad, though it is impossible to contemplate that they will enter a World Cup without him.

Craig Kieswetter, who emerged so vibrantly in the winter, has also been dropped from the 50-over squad, though he will play as a batsman in the T20s. Steven Davies, of Surrey, now has the chance of a prolonged run in the side, as perhaps he should have had before now, though the claims of Matt Prior, who has grown immensely in stature as a Test player, will not easily have been overlooked. Considering Pakistan's disarray, England should win with something to spare. But don't bet on it.

Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam