Twenty pointers to the Twenty20

England begin the defence of their ICC World Twenty20 crown in Sri Lanka on Friday and if Stuart Broad is to lead his side to back-to-back wins he will need everything going for him. Stephen Brenkley marks your card

1. Pinch-hitters

England will definitely come out slugging this week. It was a key part of the strategy in their 2010 triumph and those first six overs can determine what happens next. Not the least aspect is responding in the event of losing three wickets quickly.

2. Pitches

They can be notoriously slow and unrewarding for bowlers in Sri Lanka, and they may well be tired by the time the last matches come round in Colombo, with both men's and women's semi-finals and finals at the Premadasa Stadium. England's bowlers will need patience if they are to thrive.

3. Left-handers

In this form of the game in both bowling and batting left-handers can be potent. Ryan Sidebottom's left-arm swing was key to England's 2010 success, as was the left/right opening batting partnership. No Sidebottom (right) this time, but Danny Briggs's left-arm spin could be a real weapon.

4. The wind

Stiller, humid days may not replicate the stiff breezes of the Caribbean, of which England took full advantage two years ago. But if there is anything worthwhile on the Beaufort Scale expect the well-rehearsed batsmen to know how to hit with it.

5. Crowds

One of the joys of the Caribbean and of last year's World Cup in India was the engagement of the crowds. It helped make the spectacle (as the recent Olympics in London demonstrated) and England prospered. The worry is that Sri Lankans will not feel so compelled to watch.

6. IPL experience

England frankly lack it because their players are barely allowed exposure to it. This could make a difference, because dealing with different match positions helps if you have come across them in the past. Experience in domestic T20 may help a bit. Eleven of England's squad have played more T20s than the captain, Stuart Broad.

7. Heat and rain

All players in Sri Lanka will be affected by the near- 30C temperatures as well as the stifling humidity. How they deal with it will determine their fate. Seasonal rains are just about to begin. Not beyond the bounds that some matches will be shortened to Ten10.

8. The bowl-out

Akin to soccer's infamous penalty shoot-out, tied matches in which the scores are level will be subject to the one- over-per-side eliminator (the so-called oopse, as, presumably, in oopse-daisy). Difficult to practise, but teams losing two wickets in the shoot-out over automatically stop batting. Oopse bound to happen to England.

9. Young man's game

For all the virtues of familiarity the feeling that T20 is a young man's game is hard to shake. There are two main reasons: the boundless athleticism needed in the field and the fact that they have all been brought up on it. Jos Buttler's array of non-textbook shots are perfectly normal to him. He's always played them.

10. Captaincy

Staying calm yet making decisions quickly will have an immense bearing in this tournament. The difference between the Paul Collingwood of 2010 and the Paul Collingwood of 2007 was noticeable. Stuart Broad (above) has to learn and assimilate information swiftly, and his mere nine matches as captain may find him in difficulties.

11. Lack of international T20 will be a problem

There is a definite imbalance which the ICC have yet to tackle properly. Most players play most of their matches for their country during this tournament. It leaves teams precious little time to gel. This has to change very soon.

12. The threat of small teams

Perhaps the biggest shock in world cricket was the Netherlands' defeat of England at Lord's in the opening match of the 2009 World T20 (until Ireland beat them in last year's 50- over version). The small format means the small teams can be winners, and England will be distinctly wary of Afghanistan in their opening fixture of the tournament next Friday.

13. New shots galore

Make no mistake, there is still scope for new shots, and expect to see more transfers from right-handed to left-handed batting by more players. Batsmen will leave their crease far more and look to exploit gaps in the field on an industrial scale. Scoops, switches, reverses, ramps will be normal.

14. Recognising your role

It has always been the case that limited-overs cricket is a potted version of the proper thing. So realising that a sparky 12 from four balls or three dot balls in a row can make a difference is essential. Players have to know instantly what is expected at any given time. No one has a chance to dither.

15. The lack of umpire reviews

There is no time in Twenty20 for decisions to be reviewed. But most teams may find that difficult to come to terms with, and there are bound to be some howlers. India, however, have steadfastly refused to embrace DRS in their Test and one-day series so should be perfectly at home. Could that make a difference?

16. Smart bowling

For the reason above the death bowlers will, so to speak, have a life of their own. Change-ups, change-downs, flight, drift, wobbly seams, general deception will all be significant. Do not forget that England won last time largely because their bowlers performed when it mattered.

17. Do not forget the women

Part of the beauty of the next three weeks is the inclusion of the Women's World T20. First tried in England in 2009, it should form an integral part of all series in future. The semi-finals and final, when the sexes conjoin, will be much the better for it. England, unbeaten in 16 matches, have a superb chance under the blessed Charlotte Edwards (left).

18. Middle-over syndrome

This peculiar phenomenon, which has afflicted 50-over cricket for long enough, has somehow become a part of the shortest form. It is the period where the boundaries and the excitement cease and the players merely seek to accumulate. But it means an unfeasible amount of runs can be scored in the final five overs.

19. Wicketkeeping

The standard of wicketkeeping is not as high as it should be in international T20, sacrificed on the altar of keeper-batsmen. But it should have a much greater effect as the game evolves, keeping batsmen in their creases and serving in a predatory capacity. Hopefully this will be the tournament to move things forward.

20. But remember, anything can happen

In St Lucia last time the semi-final tie between Pakistan and Australia was wending its way to victory for the holders, Pakistan. Needing 192 to win, Australia were 122 for 5 with five overs left and still needed 18 from the final over, to be bowled by the fearsome spinner Saeed Ajmal. Mike Hussey had the answer, hitting 62 runs from 24 balls, and did it with a ball to spare. But England still beat the Aussies in the final. No one should wager too much money on the outcome this time round.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory