Twenty20 cricket is meant to be a bit of slap and tickle, a bit of fun to attract and entertain a new breed of fan. In last summer's inaugural Twenty20 match, Ricky Ponting's Australia side arrived at the Rose Bowl expecting that England's approach would fit in with that of the thousands who attended.
How wrong they were. Michael Vaughan's highly motivated team hit Australia like a sledgehammer 12 months ago and the tourists never regained their composure. The Ashes may have been won at The Oval in September but what took place in Southampton should not be underestimated.
England will arrive at the same venue for this evening's game against Sri Lanka with a much changed team and a completely different set of circumstances surrounding them. Since that memorable lap of honour in south London, England have failed to win any of the five Test and one-day series they have played in and, with the NatWest series starting at Lord's on Saturday, it is they who need to put in an impressive performance.
Stephen Harmison was one of the England bowlers who ruffled the Australians and, after a period out with injury, he is hoping to do the same again. "Last year was Australia, so it was a bit different to this match," admitted Harmison after England's 38-run victory over Ireland on Tuesday. "There will be a big crowd in and it would be nice to give them something to shout about."
This year's fixture coincides with England's football match against Trinidad and Tobago, where Brian Lara is king, and it has forced the organisers to push back the start from 5.30pm to 7.15pm. The mood of the crowd, who can watch the match on a huge screen at the ground, will undoubtedly be affected by the performance of David Beckham's side.
Kevin Pietersen's hamstring strain forced him to miss the game in Belfast but he will be welcomed back tonight. England will wait to see whether Paul Collingwood and Glen Chapple have recovered from niggles picked up against Ireland before naming their starting XI, and will need to play with a far greater intensity than on Tuesday if they are to defeat a confident Sri Lankan side.
England (Twenty20 match v Sri Lanka, Rose Bowl, Southampton, tonight). From: A J Strauss (Middlesex, capt), M E Trescothick (Somerset), A N Cook (Essex), I R Bell (Warwickshire), KP Pietersen (Hampshire), P D Collingwood (Durham), E C Joyce (Middlesex), J W M Dalrymple (Middlesex), A G R Loudon (Warwickshire), G Chapple (Lancashire), G O Jones (Kent, wicketkeeper), L E Plunkett (Durham), S J Harmison (Durham), S I Mahmood (Lancashire), T T Bresnan (Yorkshire).
Sri Lanka (from): D P M D Jayawardene (capt), K C Sangakkara (wicketkeeper), S T Jayasuriya, W U Tharanga, T M Dilshan, C K Kapugedera, R P Arnold, M F Maharoof, W P U J C Vaas, S L Malinga, M Muralitharan, C R D Fernando, P D R L Perera, CM Bandara.
Umpires: I J Gould (Eng) & N J Llong (Eng).Reuse content