Following a Test series that England won 2-0 (with one game washed out) and an ODI series that England won 2-0 (with one game washed out), it’s time for a T20 series that England are unlikely to win 2-0 (with one game being washed out).
Just for a change, the discussion around the England side centres around a large Kevin Pietersen-shaped gap at the top of the order. In his absence Alex Hales is likely to be given another chance to make a name for himself. The rest of the side will presumably be largely unchanged from the team that won their previous T20 series in the UAE, a mere four months ago. That means we’ll get to see 51allout favourite Jos Buttler in action again, where he’ll be hoping to improve on his frankly rubbish T20 numbers so far.
In terms of the bowling, the most interesting selection will be whether England use Jade Dernbach, given compassionate leave for England’s final ODI (and Surrey’s last FLT20 game) after the death of close friend Tom Maynard. Dernbach has become a key member of England’s T20 side, entrusted with bowling the crucial final over, but it’s a big ask to keep his composure under pressure after an extremely traumatic week.
After this game England have just three matches against South Africa before they start the defence of their world T20 crown. It doesn’t give them much time to adjust the side so unless someone spikes the selectorial gin at their final meeting, we’re expecting England’s squad in Sri Lanka to look very similar to this one.
The final assignment of a difficult tour for the West Indies represents their best chance of a victory. Any side with Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard in it always has a chance, even if they’re just as likely to collapse if there’s a hint of movement under the lights. The batting is packed with hitters, but the bowling is a little less impressive. Sunil Narine has found English conditions very challenging and the likes of Ravi Rampaul, Darren Sammy and Tino Best are always likely to go for a few.
Nevertheless, the West Indies have a very good T20 record against England, with five wins from seven games, and it only needs one or two players to click in the T20 format. Indeed, West Indies’ problem throughout the summer has been that only one or two players clicked in each game, while the rest were disappointing. In Tests and ODIs this hasn’t been good enough, but the lottery that is T20 cricket will suit the tourists perfectly. Indeed, we’d have some money on them as dark horses for the World T20, were we not barred from the local Ladbrokes for reasons that we shan’t go into here, although it involves our abusing Black Cavier yesterday as ‘a typical [expletive deleted] Aussie [expletive deleted]’.
Chris Gayle (he’s back, in case nobody mentioned this before) to go big and lead the West Indies to a morale-boosting victory. We’ll be covering it live via our Twitter (@51allout), as long as we can actually find someone to actually do it that isn’t already out on the streets, hunting down and mercilessly beating Italian people due to some insignficant soccerball competition that’s also happening today.