World Twenty20: T20 marches on to global domination with record-breaking World Cup

 

The fifth World Twenty20 starts in Bangladesh today. It will carry a first prize of £660,000 for the men's event and £42,000 for the women's, a disparity that even the International Cricket Council may one day decide is a little too demeaning.

For now, both tournaments will provide further evidence of the ineluctable rise of the shortest format of the game. The finals on 6 April will be followed almost immediately by this year's Indian Premier League, by the end of which T20 may indeed be master of all it surveys in cricket.

The ICC has already proudly announced that the World Twenty20 is likely to break all previous cricket-watching records. It is available to more people in more countries with more languages on commentary and more cameras recording the action. Beat that, Test cricket. And, of course, it cannot.

There is considerable reason to believe that England will be little more than bystanders in the men's event. Although they won the last of three matches against West Indies on Friday, they look to be under severe threat from the spin that is bound to play a major role, and their captain, Stuart Broad, is carrying a knee injury from which he is not certain to recover.

Fortunately, the England women's team offer almost as much reason for optimism. Experienced and canny, their biggest enemies may be nerves, which have afflicted them in the past, and the weight of expectation. Australia will probably provide the biggest stumbling block for Charlotte Edwards' well-balanced team.

Any one of the seven leading teams could end up winning the big-bucks prize. Australia have a team of boomers (and Mitchell Johnson) but the Banglsdeshi wickets may not be completely to their liking. Sri Lanka's combination of intelligence and flair always serves them well but whether they can finish the job is always the million dollar question.

The second round, effectively the tournament proper, does not begin until Friday when India play Pakistan in Group Two. The first few days will be taken up with round one, from which two of eight teams, split into two groups will qualify for the next stage.

It opens today with Bangladesh's important came against Afghanistan. That might all but decide the group. Ireland have a genuine chance of progress and if they can win their opening match against Zimbabwe tomorrow the second round awaits. There they may well come across England. It hardly bears contemplating for Broad's team.

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