As we rumble towards the end of the first week of the World T20, we here at 51allout are finally looking forward to the tournament starting in earnest. It’s not that we don’t care about the associate nations, more that our World T20 51allout branded vuvuzelas finally turned up in the office this week. Even Editor Steve turned off the chancellor’s budget statement to come and have a blow with the rest of us. We have some spares* so if you want one just tweet @51allout stating why you hate Jade Dernbach more than anyone else, using the hashtag #jadedernbachreallyisfuckingrubbish
We have actually watched some of the
highlights games this week and this is what we have learnt: if you’re decent at catching and want to play international cricket, emigrate to Nepal; if you’re decent at batting and want to play international cricket (and meet some top class hookers), emigrate to Hong Kong; Ireland the Netherlands are still the strongest of the associate nations; and, Ireland are village at best.
So how do we predict the rest of the tournament will pan out:
Group A – England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka,
If this tournament were currently being played in England then this would be the group to watch; as it isn’t, we are confidently going to predict Sri Lanka will coast through to the semi-finals with one of the other teams coming second (that’s us, over there, living on the edge). As we discussed on the podcast, it’s hard not to rank the teams based on which one has the most spinners (“mystery” or otherwise), hence why we feel confident in predicting Sri Lanka to top the group. It is also their final realistic chance to win the tournament in the foreseeable future with both Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara ending their international T20 careers thereafter. With Chandimal, Mathews, Dilshan, Malinga and Mendis also available, their first eleven is as strong as anyone’s.
South Africa clearly have the firepower to do well, although history suggests otherwise. This isn’t a cheap ‘choking’ gag – they’ve only made the semi-final once before. With Faf du Plessis (if fit…), AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla supported by T20 experts Quinton de Kock (snigger) and David Miller, runs should be aplenty. Their potential progression out of the group will depend on how well their pace bowlers adapt to the slow low conditions. We’re surprised Morne Morkel has actually bothered to turn up at all. However the reasons they won’t progress can be summarised in two words: Imran Tahir.
We flippin’ love New Zealand here at 51allout, indeed they are the team we wish England would become. Brendon McCullum is a progressive captain, dashingly good looking and not half as self-impressed as Michael Clarke. They have a number of decent bits and pieces all rounders (who could be well suited to conditions) and a number of spinners – Nathan McCullum, Ronnie Hira and Anton Devcich. Yeah, us neither. On the flip side we aren’t sure whether they’ll get enough runs on the board. If only Jesse Ryder could stay out of the pub.
What can we say about England that’s not already been said? Not a great deal, as they are in rotten form and have no track record of playing spin or dealing with conditions on the subcontinent. Their best T20 player is currently on the piss with Piers Morgan and their vice-captain thinks every other team tries to hit too many sixes. Apparently it is fours that all the cool kids aim to hit. When Joe Root pulled out Samit Patel would have been the ideal replacement, but instead they selected Ian Bell, who wasn’t in the original 30 and hasn’t played a T20 game for about seven years. If they win one game it will be an achievement.
51allout prediction: Sri Lanka and New Zealand to qualify
Group B – Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Bangladesh
On paper this is by far the stronger group. The only side not blessed with a multitude of spinners is Australia, but what they do have is a massive amount of firepower (and are the bookies’ favourites). A top three of Warner, Finch and Watson could be the best there has ever been (in this format). They are followed by Hodge, Bailey, Maxwell and White in a potentially devastating top seven. On the flip side they do seem a little light in the bowling department following Mitchell Johnson’s injury. Starc, Faulkner and Coulter-Nile can all do a job but the spinners are a concern: 58 year old Brad Hogg is supported by James Muirhead (four T20I wickets in three matches). Where’s Ashton Agar when you need him?
India should be strong contenders in conditions which will suit them well. There is no obvious weakness in their squad, they have big hitters, a number of bowling options and Virat Kohli. If you are looking for a weakness, Ashwin and Mishra aren’t the strongest front line spinners in the competition but they will have ample support from Ravi Jadeja and the pie
eaters chuckers – Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina.
What can we say about Pakistan
that won’t get us in trouble with our lawyers? Unpredictable? Maverick? That’s probably about it. Their warm up performances perfectly sum up Pakistan, a steady win against New Zealand was followed up by being bowled out by South Africa for 71, at a run rate of four an over. Their track record suggests progression, because they’ve never failed to reach the semi-final stage, but we just don’t fancy them this time.
Finally we have the West Indies, who like India, seem to have all required bases covered: power in the batting order, a varied attack and a world class mystery spinner. Darren Sammy has morphed into a fantastic finisher and Chris Gayle should ensure they always get off to a fast start. They’ve even found room in the squad for Ravi Rampaul – insert your own joke here. They seem ideally placed to retain their title.
51allout prediction: India and West Indies to qualify