World Twenty20: Part sport, part showbiz, so let's have a ball

The World Twenty20, which starts on Friday, will be the most successful global cricket event ever held in England. Since, of recent vintage, it is competing against the World Cup of 1999 and the 2004 Champions Trophy, that might not be saying much. Both were damp squibs and in the latter case a damp squib that failed to ignite in the dark of early autumn.

Of course, it is saying a great deal if the inaugural World Cup of 1975, which ended in a truly grand final at Lord's on a hot summer's day, is considered. But that was another, more innocent age. Cricket tournaments did not need hoopla then, they merely needed decent cricket and the event of 34 years ago, novel, small and perfectly formed, finally got it.

There is genuine reason to believe that this time the organisers will get it right and that they will produce a competition which is engaging, entertaining and of its era: part sport, part showbiz. The England and Wales Cricket Board, who have not always covered themselves in glory running these things (who can forget the 1999 World Cup theme song which not only had no mention of cricket but was released after the host nation had been eliminated?), have taken no risks.

Instead of muddling through, they hired Steve Elworthy as tournament director, after his success in a similar role at the World Twenty20 in South Africa two years ago. He intends to get things right from the start. There is no opening ceremony of the shabby kind which got the event a decade ago off to a laughable start from which it never recovered. There will be an opening presentation, short, sharp, spectacular in a low-key fashion.

Elworthy cannot guarantee two things which would help in making this World Twenty20 successful: the weather and a decent run by the host nation. With the usual caveats, it seems the first of those wishes will be met and that the sun will indeed shine. The second is much trickier, although at least England have two chances. For the first time in any major team sport, a men's championship is being run alongside that for women.

While England's men have been undergoing their usual rollercoaster ride and have been careering towards the ground in Twenty20, the women's team have taken all before them. As world champions in the 50-over format, they have a copper-bottomed chance of further triumph. If England perform as well as expected, they will make a breakthrough into the public consciousness never seen before.

Most of the burden of hope, if not expectation, will be on the side led by Paul Collingwood. It is possible only to be cautiously optimistic since England's selectors, feeling they were in a corner, picked an experimental team. Five of the squad's 15 men have never played a Twenty20 international and two have never played an international of any sort. It is a gamble to thrust them into a global championship.

The new men are there because they are "Twenty20 specialists". A similar policy was pursued in South Africa two years ago when four players were chosen because of their previous form in the domestic Twenty20 game and England won only one of their five matches.

Andy Flower, England's coach, rightly bridled the other day when it was put to him by a recalcitrant reporter (this one) that England were hopeless at Twenty20. Since the last world championship, England have actually easily won three of their four official T20 internationals. But in March in Trinidad they were overwhelmed by West Indies in an appalling display. That had been preceded by an equally lacklustre effort in the ill-fated Stanford Super Series when they were playing for $1m a man and looked as though they were playing for sixpence.

The tournament is being played on three grounds – Lord's, The Oval and Trent Bridge – and will have one other disadvantage it could have done without. It is being conducted against the backdrop of the Ashes, which begin early in July and which everybody is talking about.

It is heartening that the oldest series in the world has not been subsumed by a brash new format. So Test cricket can afford to be gracious. The next three weeks or so is Twenty20's time. The grounds will be full, the fun contagious. India to retain their title.

Why england can win it...

1. They have a fresh team of proven Twenty20 performers not encumbered by recent failures.

2. Captain Paul Collingwood will be the wiser for having done the job in the previous World Twenty20 and claims to have learned enough to run a Twenty20 degree course after being at the Indian Premier League for three weeks.

3. The wicketkeeper, James Foster, is that rare modern sight, a wicketkeeper who electrifies his team-mates by the wizardry and earnestness of his own performances.

4. Their coach, Andy Flower, is the only coach in the tournament to have played Twenty20 cricket so understands its peculiar rhythms.

Stephen Brenkley

Twenty20 lowdown

Who's in it:

Group A India, Bangladesh, Ireland

Group B Pakistan, England, Holland

Group C Australia, Sri Lanka, West Indies

Group D New Zealand, South Africa, Scotland

Key dates

Warm-ups: Tuesday: England v Scotland, Trent Bridge (5.30pm)

Wednesday: England v West Indies, Lord's (5.30pm)

Group Stage:

Friday: England v Holland, Lord's (5.30pm)

Sunday 7 June: England v Pakistan, The Oval (5.30pm)

* top two in each group then progress to Super Eights

Super Eights: 11-16 June

Semi-finals: Thursday 18 June: First semi, Trent Bridge (5.30pm)

Friday 19 June: Second semi, The Oval (5.30pm)

Sunday 21 June: Final, Lord's (3pm)

News
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Steven Fletcher scores the second goal for Scotland
cricketBut they have to bounce back to beat Gibraltar in Euro 2016 qualifier
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing