Former England Cricketer Matthew Hoggard gives his tournament overview
T20 is upon us isn’t it? In India, home of T20 cricket, lots of team in great forms, small boundaries, flat wickets, big bats, there are going to be fours, sixes and runs galore unless the spinners spoil the batman’s party. So lots of runs, lots of excitement, and lots of upset I think.
We’ve got two groups, England, Sri Lanka, South Africa and The West Indies in group one plus a qualifier. Then the pool of death; Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and another qualifier in group two. There is going to be a lot of exciting cricket and a lot of close games, there are a lot of teams going in that are not on form, in T20 cricket it only takes a couple performances from one person in that team to take the game away from the opposition.
England have got a strong possibility of qualifying, they had a bit of a rough ride in the very last stages of the South Africa tour, but showed glimpses of what they could do. There are lots of match winners in that side, mainly in the batters’ camp. You have the likes of Alex Hales who led from the front, Jos Buttler who is very dangerous and then we have Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan and Joe Root, just to name a few.
Sri Lanka are coming off the back of very bad run of form but are ably led by Lasith Malinga, who seems to have been around since year dot in the T20 format, he must have played in a lot of tournaments and got a lot of knowledge. In Asian, sub continent conditions, if they can get some form together they will be a hard team to beat. We’ve got South Africa who are very dangerous, you don’t have to mention AB De Villiers, every bowler runs for cover because he is such a dangerous batter. They’ve got an option of opening with Quinton De Kock but unfortunately he missed out as he injured himself whilst dog walking the last T20 game against England so he didn’t get into the side. They will have to find a way to get him into the side if they want to play Quinton De Kock. They have Imran Tahir as a bowler, Faf Du Plessis, they have a dangerous team on good form after beating England.
You have the West Indies; there is only one name that springs to mind that’s Chris Gayle, the holder of many records and loser of many cricket balls out of the stadium. They have the cunningness of Darren Bravo who again goes around the world in T20 format applying his trade and he has been very effective. They are a very dangerous team, they’ve got the likes of Darren Sammy who is going to lead who can finish games of cricket, we have seen him finish very clinically before in the past. It is such a unpredictable sports it takes one performance from one of the players I have just mentioned to take the game away from the opposition.
Group A you have got to back South Africa to head the group, then I am going to have to back England and be patriotic and say that they can get through into the semi’s.
Then you go to the group of death. You have got Australia, New Zealand, India and Pakistan. You’ve got Australia who have got the world leading T20 player- the batsman Aaron Finch, you’ve got the likes of James Faulkner, you’ve got the big Glenn Maxwell (pictured below), they are going to miss Mitchel Clarke as their spearhead bowler, then again they have an unsettled side, they don’t know what their best side is. Throw in the likes of David Warner, Steve Smith who have gone from strength to strength, they have a very strong side as well.
New Zealand, they got through to the World Cup one-day tournament finals, but Brendon McCullum is going to be a massive hole in their team. They still have the likes of Martin Guptill that can smash it out the park, Kane Williamson and Joe Root who keeps going from strength to strength scoring runs. Trent Boult is a very effective one-day bowler so they can upset a lot of people. They’ve got India at home, where you’ve got Virat Kohli who is in fantastic form, you’ve got Mahendra Singh Dhoni captain cool, who finishes off teams fantastically well, you have got Ravichandran Ashwin and Rayudu as spinner options, we haven’t even mentioned Karan Sharma. At home they are going to be a very hard team to beat.
Then you have Pakistan who seem to rock up at the right time, especially in world cups, they are going to want to prove a point especially in India. I am looking forward to Riaz running in and bowling at the speed of light.
Out of that group you would have to fancy India to progress and Australia along with them. Then you’ve got India, Australia in one camp, you’ve got South Africa, England in the other, I don’t know which will top the groups but you would have to say out of the top two India and then Australia or South Africa to go through.
Leading bowlers, I think Ashwin will have a good tournament maybe the likes of Dale Steyn (pictured right).
Players to watch from Australia
Australia, led by Steve Smith, gone from strength to strength in all formats of the game in the last three or four years, so well led there. They have got the top T20 ranked batsman in Aaron Finch, they have got the big show, like his nick name suggests he can smack the ball out of the park – Glenn Maxwell. They have got the finisher – some good nicknames coming out of Australia – in James Faulkner who seems to make it his business to come into the crease where everything looks impossible and scores some very quick runs. They open the batting with David Warner, who even in test cricket scores at a good rate, so he can set the game up fantastically well for them. They’ve got Shane Watson who’s been ever present here in every team and tournament going. Australia is a well oiled side, well led by Steve Smith and Darren Lehmann and they have got some match winners through-out their side. They are a well-rounded team and well led on and off the field and that’s why people are putting them as tournament favourites.
Players to watch from India
Moving on to India, the tournament hosts. They have the home advantage, they know all the stadiums inside out, they’ve got M S Dhoni (pictured left) – Captain cool, always seems to be able to pull the goods out of the bag at the end of the game when everybody else is loosing their heads; he is very cool calm and collected and finishes the game off. Virat Kohli four half centuries at a last six innings, you’ve got the likes of Rohit Sharma who keeps scoring runs for fun. Can’t leave out Yuraj Singh – six, sixers off an over against Broad, against England. And then you’ve got the bowlers; Ashwin who is going to have a fantastic tournament, you’ve got Jadeja to back him up . There are so many players of India, they’re at home, they are the host of the IPL they’ve got all the experience in the world, its hard to overlook India for a place in the final and my top tip for winning the tournament.
Batsman who could end up with most runs scored
The batsman of the tournament, you’ve got to look and see which team you think are going to get through to the semi-finals. In my case I think it’s going to be Australia, India, England and South Africa. In South Africa you can’t go any further then AB de Viliers, Australia you’ve got to look at Flinch and Warner, India Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, and then from England Hales or Eoin Morgan. With the outside chance that the people who haven’t gone through to the semi finals / finals who are going to score runs; Kane Williamson from New Zealand and you can never write off Chris Gayle from the West Indies.
Bowlers to watch as leading wicket takers
So moving onto leading wicket takers, again like the leading run scorers you have to look at the teams that you think will be in semi-final and final. So again its Australia, South Africa, India and England. I’ve picked two from each country and for Australia I’ve gone for Faulkner and Shane Watson. Shane Watson IPL, he’s been in every IPL so lots of acknowledge over there. Faulkner I think was going to bowl at the death, any chance at picking up the wickets. South Africa you can look at Dale Steyn, who is going to lead from the front with Imran Tahir, outside chance for Rabada getting in there as well. India you’ve got to pick their two premier spinners which are Ashwin and Jadeja. Then you’ve got to look at England and then you come across the stumbling block, and you have to think and put Rashid and Ben Stokes up there and the outside chance is Dwayne Bravo, who is in the leading wicket take in the CPL and Trent Boult for New Zealand.