The fourth Twenty Twenty, T20, Twenty20 (however you want to say it!) World cup starts today in Sri Lanka and England are the defending champions. The tournament is three weeks long and guarantees to produce fast, powerful and exciting games, and judging by previous years, many of which will be decided on the last ball of the match.
If you have never watched T20 before, or any form of cricket, now would be a great time to start. There will never be a dull moment during the games, and T20 is becoming the spectator spectacle that Cricket so desperately needs. With each team only getting twenty overs each, every ball is extremely important and one player can essentially win the game for his team with a bit of magic in a single over.
The format of the tournament is a bit different to other sports and here is what it looks like:
Group Stage: Four groups of three teams play each other once; top two progress.
Super Eight Stage: Eight qualifiers from group stage split into two groups to play each other once; top two progress.
Semi-Finals: Four qualifiers split into semi-final knockout matches.
Final: Two semi-final winners go head to head for the trophy on 7th October.
You can find the full fixture list here but I have picked out England’s group stage fixtures:
September 21 England v Afghanistan, Colombo (RPS) (15:00 BST)
September 23 England v India, Colombo (RPS) (15:00 BST)
All games will be live on Sky Sports and on the radio at BBC five live extra.
Here is how I think the tournament may pan out:
Group A: England, India, Afghanistan
I think everyone is still a little shocked that Afghanistan has made it to the tournament considering what is going on in the country at the moment. Unfortunately they have been drawn against the current champions and world number one team in England and an always strong India.
Despite England being ranked number one and the defending champions, no-one is giving them much chance of winning. There are two main reasons for this; inconsistent in the conditions that Sri Lanka provides and the player of the tournament from 2010, Kevin Pietersen not being in the squad because of dressing room issues. Both are huge factors, but I think England can overcome them to go far in the tournament. England have some great young batsmen in the squad so watch out for Hales, Bairstow and Buttler who will all be scoring quickly or getting out.
India are one of the favourites for the tournament and while I think they will win this group narrowly beating England, they might peak a bit early.
Prediction: India, England, Afghanistan
Group B: Australia, West Indies, Ireland
This is a very interesting group with all three teams able to win games on their day. Australia are struggling a little bit at the moment, dropping very low in the ICC rankings and will be looking to make an impression.
West Indies are many peoples outside bet for the tournament with some amazing T20 players, many with great IPL experience. The question is and always has been can they come together and perform consistently to achieve their potential?
Ireland will be looking to cause an upset here and definitely have a great chance if they put either team on the back foot early. I think each team might win one in the group so it will come down to the wire. It might be a stretch too far for Ireland to get out of the group but they will be great to watch.
Prediction: Australia, West Indies, Ireland
Group C: Sri Lanka, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Sri Lanka are the home team and one of the favourites, they have a great advantage in producing wickets that suit their style of play. It’s a tough group and it will be really close when they play South Africa.
If you watched any of the England International cricket over the past couple of months you would have seen Hashim Amla get a bucket full of runs in every game. South Africa has masses of batting talent and Dale Steyn is always brilliant with the ball. They will be tough to beat although I don’t expect teams to drop Amla as much as England did and some of their part time spinners might struggle depending on the wickets.
Not much to say about Zimbabwe, they will put up a fight but being drawn against Sri Lanka and South Africa, they don’t really stand a chance.
Prediction: Sri Lanka, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Group D: Pakistan, New Zealand, Bangladesh
This will be another tight group along with group B, mainly due to Pakistan being a bit inconsistent. I expect Pakistan to absolutely smash New Zealand but slip up against Bangladesh. The question will be if Pakistan can turn it on when they get to the super eights.
New Zealand have some huge hitters but will struggle if they don’t perform, I think they will beat Bangladesh but the savaging from Pakistan will be too great to see them through.
Consistency will be the key for Bangladesh, they are capable of beating both teams in the group and I think they will progress by beating Pakistan but won’t get any further after that.
Prediction: Pakistan, Bangladesh, New Zealand
Using my group stage predictions, I think the super eights will shape up like this (groups are pre determined):
Group A: England, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
Whatever happens in the group stages, the super eights are going to be extremely tough. If my predictions go to plan and group A looks like this, I think Sri Lanka and England will go on to the semi-finals but it will be very tight between them and India.
Prediction: Sri Lanka, England, West Indies, Bangladesh
Group B: India, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan
This would be another tough group but I see Pakistan and South Africa progressing if it looks like that although I’m still not sure South Africa know what their best team is and that could hurt them. But I know plenty of you will disagree!
Prediction: Pakistan, South Africa, India, Australia
Sri Lanka vs. South Africa and England vs. Pakistan is how I see it and I would expect that to make a final of Sri Lanka vs. England for the trophy. Sri Lanka is my pick for the tournament as they are a great side and will have that home advantage which served us so well in the Olympics and Paralympics!