England 15 man squad: S. Broad (C), J. Bairstow, R. Bopara, T. Bresnan, D. Briggs, J. Buttler, J. Dernbach, S. Finn, A. Hales, C. Kieswetter (W/K), M. Lumb, E. Morgan, S. Patel, G. Swann & L. Wright
Tournament record : P: 17, W: 8, L:8, NR/T: 1, W%: 47.06% – Best: Champions in 2010
England are in Group A, which also contains T20 giants India and somewhat passionate minnows Afghanistan. England have lost to minnows in T20 and in other formats so they will be praying for no slip up. It would be a catastrophe should they fail to make it through.
The opening combination is Hales and Kieswetter. Hales is coming off the back of 99 in his last T20I but is in foreign conditions and won’t have long to settle. Kieswetter, can be a destructive clean striker but on sub continental pitches there is a risk his aggressive style could be flawed by slower bowling and lower bounce. He has been reliable behind the stumps so far despite costly drops against S. Africa. He will need to prove his keeping is up to scratch on Sri Lankan tracks.
The positions in the order are not certain or fixed. I assume that 3, 4 and 5 will consist of Bopara, Morgan and Bairstow with a combination of Buttler Wright and Patel to follow. Bairstow seems to excel under pressure and can hit a ball mighty hard as he showed on finals day hitting an exhilarating 68. Despite relative inexperience he has played against India a fair amount in ODI cricket. Eoin Morgan and Buttler will be the batsmen innovating with sweeps, switch hits, paddles, laps and scoops. This is needed against the slower bowlers to score runs and release pressure throughout the competition especially in tight scoring situations. Both Morgan and Buttler can crucially clear the rope with big hit too. Morgan especially is a very strong player down the ground.
The first of the all-rounders is Wright. A successful year yielded 312 runs in the T20 campaign, over 400 runs in the Cb40 for Sussex and selection for the big bash. Although a little one dimensional he is capable of hitting all over the wicket. He can bowl well at the death too. Bopara offers stylish wristy but often unreliable batting and bowls useful wobbly seam. After being included in the ODI side ahead of Bairstow without any justifiable form to speak of he certainly has to prove his worth or more doubt could seep in. Patel is capable of batting in the middle or lower middle order and offers a spinning option. This reinforces flexibility at the disposal of Broad and Flower.
English bowlers need pitch it up. Stopping runs and taking wickets are strongly linked so bowling short on Sri Lankan pitches it will not be effective. It is likely to dissapear. Most likely Dernbach will open and close the innings drying up runs whilst taking wickets with variations. He has the capacity to bowl upwards of 85- 90 Mph, but his strength lies in slower balls, slower ball bouncer and cutters. He disguises variations well and uses to them good effect.
The tall quick bowler in the side is Finn. He uses pace and height push the batsmen into their crease and attacks the stumps once batsmen are pinned back. He has a good bouncer and yorker and bowls tight to the stumps. He’s occasionally wayward but can bowl upwards of 90 Mph.
The captain has the most control. Broad In T20 ups his pace for bursts of full fast attacking bowling and will take middle overs most likely. If he bowls well it will certainly lift the side. Broad can also clear the rope with the bat. In T20 Bresnan can bowl a heavy ball at a useful pace. His strength is Zeroing in on the stumps along with Broad and Dernbach to fire in yorkers. Bresnan’s main flaw is his occasional indiscipline dropping short or too wide. He is a capable lower order batsmen also.
England will need Swann to reclaim his flight and loop which was absent in the last 6 months in patches. Variations in both pace and flight will be needed to prize out batsmen by bowling economically. Swann is a big spinner of the ball and he will hopefully be able to take wickets regularly which is the best way of being miserly with runs. His understudy is Briggs, the second spinner in the squad. If he plays, he will not be turning the ball a significant amount but is a holding spinner. It would be his job to maintain pressure.
One gets the feeling the batting is not as settled as the bowling unit. Morgan, Bopara and Bairstow must step up as the senior batsmen and lay a platform so Broad Dernbach Finn and Swann in the main, will have something to bowl at. Without runs on board England can expect to struggle to bowl out sides as there will be less room for maneuver.