Sunday, 30 May 2010

How good is Tamim Iqbal?

England saw signs of how good Tamim was out in the Desh, but today the world saw it. To make a better-than-run-a-ball century, at Lord's, irregardless of country, is a spectacular event, as seen by the long standing ovation Tamim received when he finally fell for one big shot too many. While naysayers can say England didn't bowl well or that they should have played a five man attack (or Broad), cricket must stand an applaud a fantastic achievement from the 21 year old.

Tamim is the shining light of the Bangladesh team, which begs the question of how good can he be? He will undoubtably be the best Deshi player over the next 5ish years, but on the basis of that innings, he could fit his way into any test team in the world. It was a Sehwag-esque innings, and that's no exaggeration.

Bangladesh may well lose this test match, and will probably lose the next one as well, but Tamim's reputation and confidence will have been enhanced by what was one of the best test innings Lord's has ever seen. Take a bow, son.

New Ball Blues

Tim Bresnan's been called many things in his time. Portly. Roly-poly. Tubby. Fat. Carrying some timber. But England's new ball bowler shouldn't be one of them.

Steven Finn has been picked for this test ahead of Stuart Broad in order to give the young Watfordian some test match experience, ahead of the Ashes this winter. Fair enough. But surely England see Finn as an opening bowler, with his pace and height being perfect for when the ball's at it's hardest. So why isn't Finn bowling first up against the Desh?

The powers that be are trying to be nice to Jimmy Anderson after not playing him in the World T20; making sure he bowls the most, and gets to choose what end he would like. And as England's leader of the attack, Anderson is well within his right to pick the Pavilion End to have his first hurl from. Much has been made of Finn's reluctance to bowl from the Nursery End, but Andrew Strauss should have given him two words if he complained. Man up.

If the selectors want to give Finn test match experience, the best experience for him will be bowling from an 'unfamiliar' end (or as unfamiliar as an end can be at one's own ground). Evidently, it was decided that Finn shouldn't have the new-ball from the Nursery End, so Bresnan got to have his go.

While Bresnan's stock has risen in the England team on the back of a successful tour of Bangladesh, and winning the World T20, he won't be England's new ball bowler on the first morning at Brisbane. Put simply, he is not an international new ball bowler. Despite experimentation, it's been decided that Broad is not either. Barring an incredibly unlikely return for Steve Harmison, the honour of sharing the cherry with Anderson will be a straight shoot-out between Finn and Graham Onions. A Graham Onions who won't have played much cricket. And a Steven Finn who won't have done much new ball bowling for England.

Surely it would make sense for Finn to take the new ball, regardless of end until the end of the summer, so his discovery of experience is extended further. If England are using this Bangladesh series as a way of formulating plans for this winter, (which the resting of Broad and Collingwood certainly suggests), it would certainly make sense Strauss to throw Finn the ball first. And if Finn bowls as well as he did in the first innings, he's going to earn his place on merit (and not just because others have been rested).

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Prime Minister's Address to the England Team

While the rest of the world saw David Cameron's congratulations to the England team on winning the World T20, the Short Third Man was lucky enough to uncover the new PM's first draft of his letter of congratulations.

I would like to offer my hearty congratulations to Colin Wood and his England team for winning the World Cricket Cup, at the Oval last week. I would also like to congratulate Peter Senn for winning Father of the Year whilst at the tournament.

The multi-cultural nature of the English team reflects the multi-cultural nature of British society, and is a great advert for how former British colonies can unite together.


David Cameron (PM and a jolly nice chap)

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

England Team of the Year 2009/10

As a cricketing nation, England haven't had a bad last 12 months. After losing three consecutive series (and three consecutive captains) in the previous summer - summer window, not much was predicted for a team low on confidence, ability or form. 12 months later, all has changed, with an Ashes urn and World T20 trophy safely in the Lord's Trophy Room. And as it's awards season (with Graeme Swann picking up player of the year last night), I've decided to look at who would make England's across-all-formats best eleven of the last year.

1) Andrew Strauss (captain)
Man of the series in the Ashes win, Strauss led England to victory against Australia, and an unlikely draw in South Africa. Also returned as a one-day force, being the only English batsman to come out of the Australia ODI series in any credit, as well as a strong Champions Trophy. But for missing out on runs in South Africa (and literally missing out in Bangladesh) would have run Swann close for Player of the Year.

2) Alastair Cook
While 2009/10 was not his best year in an England shirt, Cook answered his critics with a gutsy knock in Durban after calls for him to be dropped after an indifferent Ashes. However, doubters should not forget his classy 95 in a winning cause at Lord's. Also made two hundreds in the away Bangladesh series.

3) Ian Bell
While I will never be Bell's biggest fan, and have called for him to be dropped as much as any, it's impossible to not pick Bell in the team of the year. Bell has the annoying knack of always doing enough to justify being in the team, and three hundreds on the tour of South Africa and Bangladesh do enough to get him into the middle order. Bell's class does shine through his lack of mental fortitude, and his gritty 80-odd at the Oval is often overlooked, but was vital in England bringing the Ashes home. Begrudging applause from the Short Third Man.

4) Paul Collingwood
Gritty. Nuggety. Determined. Defiant. Stubborn. Generic northern cliche. But for Paul Collingwood, England would have lost three tests which they drew (Cardiff, Centurion and Cape Town), meaning England would not have won the Ashes, and would have lost 3-1 in South Africa. This, if nothing else, shows Collingwood's importance to the team. Collingwood is the bedrock of the England team, with dramatic diving catches, dibbly-dobbly seamers and defiant defence firmly planting him into the team of the year. Firmly part of all three codes, Collingwood is England's highest ever ODI appearance maker (and he took a century on the day he broke the record). And he's the only man to captain England to an ICC event win. Which can't be bad.

5) Eoin Morgan
Morgan completes England's ginger middle order twosome, and is the only player in the team of the year to not have played test cricket. However, by being far and away England's one day player of the year, he will undoubtably have played a bit of test cricket by this time on Thursday. Morgan has been used in a variety of roles in the limited over middle-order, as a master-blasting "finisher", a middle-over "anchor", and a run-rate "accelerator". Morgan has fulfilled all of these roles with aplomb over the past 12 months (don't forget; this time last year he'd only ever played internationally for Ireland), with an unbeated T20 85 against South Africa, and his first international century against Bangladesh being further highlights. Morgan was also one of many English heroes who won the World T20, and fully deserves his place in the team of the year.

6) Matt Prior (wicket-keeper)
England have used four wicket-keepers this past year, but only one has been able to firmly grab hold and keep his place in the team. Matt Prior. Prior's much-maligned keeping has improved no end, being able to take some real blinders in the Ashes win. While he did not flourish with the bat, he was often on hand for some useful quick runs (Lord's being a prime example) throughout the 12 months. While he may be sweating over the emergence of Craig Kieswetter, Prior knows that for the moment, the gloves are in his court.

7) Andrew Flintoff
Can you really make England's team of the year on the back of one completed series? And on the back of (ultimately) one good bowling performance? While Flintoff's stats and averages will not support it, as someone who was at Lord's on that Monday morning where he blew Australia away, something special was happening. The God and after-God that is Andrew Flintoff was superb, and his prescence, even if it wasn't him scoring the runs or taking the wickets like it was in 2005, the fact that he was there whipped the crowd and team into such a fervour that England had to win. It's no coincidence that the one game he missed, England were crucified. It's also no coincidence that as the crowd were beginning to lower their volume, he produced an outstanding pick-up and throw to run out Ricky Ponting in the fifth test. Flintoff's personal performances were not as outstanding, but simply having him in the team would give it an unprecedented aura. While we may not see Flintoff in an England shirt again, he makes it into the English team of the year.

8) Tim Bresnan
Tim Bresnan started last year as a bit-part one day player who hadn't made the previous few squads. He starts this as a one-day new-ball bowler, and an important part of the team for all three codes. Forcing his way back into the test team after being ousted for the Ashes, Bresnan has proven with his high level of one day performance that he is a capable international player. Bresnan has also showed a comittment to his fitness by trimming down, and while he is not the most athletic, he can swing the ball and score useful lower order runs, which should see him on the plane to Australia this winter. And it also sees it into my team of the year.

9) Graeme Swann Player of the Year
Quite simply England's best player over the past 12 months. Swann took crucial wickets, scored crucial runs and told not-as-crucial jokes in interviews. After getting the West Indies out for fun, Swann turned his attention to the Australians, and was as important player as any in the Ashes win. His "ball-of-the-century 2" to Ponting at Edgbaston was "one for the grandkids", as, no doubt, was taking the final Ashes winning wicket. South Africa was next, and his 85 runs and 5 first innings wickets kept England in the game in Centurion. He then took an unprecedented 9 wickets in Durban as England closed the decade with arguably their best away performance of the noughties. While the series in South Africa ended on a sour note, Swann took a maiden ten-wicket haul in the first Bangladeshi test as England took an easy series win. Away from tests, Swann was England's tightest ODI bowler, and took a maiden fivefer in the most important ODI against Australia (the '1' in the 6-1). His guile was crucial in the Caribbean, alongside Michael Yardy, as he bowled England to a World T20 victory. Overall, Swann was clearly England's best player of the past 12 months, and clearly deserves his place in the team of the year.

10) Stuart Broad
Broad's spell in the final Ashes test won the urn, but he has contributed more than that. He's the only fast bowler to have consistently appeared in all formats of the game, and has been England's best ODI bowler. Offering swing, seam and bounce, as well as sometimes crucial late-order runs, Broad has again improved through the last 12 months, and hopes to move on further over the next year.

11) Jimmy Anderson
At times the only bowler who scared Australia, Anderson has developed an ability to threaten even when the ball is not swinging. Unlucky to have missed out as England won the World T20, Anderson is still England's flagship test fast bowler, and will continue to fulfil that role over the next 12 months.

So - that's my team of the last year, what do you all make of it? No Pietersen, Trott or Onions...

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Spinner Pinner's Double-Bouncers

T20 can be a difficult game for crap bowlers. Players with no talent are often exposed and battered, especially spinners. Batsmen have the advantage of switch-hits, dilscoops and being bowled at by Shane Watson. Bowlers have not much they can do, apart from bowl the "slow bouncer" (or "long hop" as it used to be called*). *One point in cricket cliche bingo

Some bowlers could sit and accept that they're going to be belted for 12 an over. But this guy doesn't. Neil Pinner, a plucky Worcestershire second teamer, has been working on a ball that bounces twice. The ball, which he is yet to use in a match, is designed for T20, specifically to stop sixes being hit off it. Bizarrely, this delivery which is normally only seen in under 14 C fixtures would be legal in the MCC rules. If perfected, Pinner hopes to bowl his full 4 overs of off-spin with double-bouncers (that's 48 bounces in total for all maths fans). This would mean batsmen would be forced to nudge and nurdle him about, thus reducing their strike rate and the overall score of the team in the 20 overs. Clever?

Probably, yes. But I think Pinner's bouncing up the wrong tree. Much of England's success in the World T20 was due to tight economical bowling from Swann and Yardy, who picked up key wickets throughout. Pinner won't take any wickets (unless batsmen do stupid things) with this double-bouncers, which surely defeats the object of cricket. Yes, he'll be keeping it tight up his end, but he'll just be letting batsmen get their eyes in to score quickly down the other end. And how much tighter will he even keep it? Batsmen just needs to dob five runs from the first five, with a boundary off the final ball (which shouldn't be too difficult with an inventive player like Eoin Morgan at the crease) for Pinner to have conceded nine runs and looking very ordinary.

While I can see that T20 is clearly a batsman's game, there is still room for good bowlers to excel. I have never seen Neil Pinner (or indeed heard of him before seeing this article), but I'd suggest to him that he spends his net time working on his doosra, line or length, rather than wasting his time on a ball which won't get many rewards.

Fans of Microsoft Paint are amazed with this artist's impression of Pinner's double-bouncers

Monday, 17 May 2010

Twitter Translation - Jimmy Anderson

All taken from Jimmy Anderson's twitter feed.

What he said:Had a good day today. Practice this morning and golf this aft. Having a quiet night before our first warm up game tomorrow v Bangladesh.
5:35 PM Apr 27th via txt

What he really meant:Looking forward to playing in the World T20 group games.

What he said: The sea was rough this morning.Hope we play better than we bodysurfed.Tim Bres wasn't great. He ate a lot of sand and he wasn't even hungry
8:38 AM Apr 29th via Tweetie

What he really meant: Bresnan's a thick moron who doesn't deserve to play. I should be in there instead of him

What he said: The highlight of my day was Swanny and Tim Bresnan chasing each other round the dressing room and it ending in tears. #ihatenotplaying
3:55 PM May 4th via Tweetie

What he really meant: Andy Flower - PICK ME!

What he said: Landed in Barbados and it's wet. The banter between Bresnan and Swann continues but it made the flight go quicker....
7:09 PM May 4th via Tweetie

What he really meant: They won't talk to me now I'm not in the team...

What he said: Well if I'm not going to play cricket then might as well play some golf. Going to Apes Hill this aft and I'm looking forward to it!
8:49 AM May 7th via Tweetie

What he really meant: Hello... I'm still in this squad? Any chance of a game?

What he said: Had a good round of golf this aft. Me and Bres took the money off Lumby and Craig K!
3:08 PM May 7th via Tweetie

What he really meant: The South Africans bottled it (again)

What he said: Looks like more golf for me!! At least I'll go home with a tan!
3:58 PM May 8th via Tweetie

What he really meant: Screw you guys. At least I get a free holiday out of all of this...

What he said: Me and Dave Kieswetter took on Colly and Ottis Gibson at Apes Hill today. I shot 1 over and still lost! It was hard handing over the cash!
4:03 PM May 14th via txt

What he really meant: If I'm not going to play in the same team as him, I don't have to learn his name...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Campeones, campeones, olé olé olé!

England have just won the World T20. I predicted this in March. I should have put money on it. (I didn't, but I don't really care!) COME ON!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Captain Colonel

If Middlesex winning two county games in a row wasn't shocking enough, today's big county story is as equally surprising. Well, to me anyway.

Durham captain and punster's dream Will "Fresh Prince" Smith has been removed as captain of the champions, and has been replaced by equally as fun Phil "Colonel" Mustard. In their Pursuit of Happyness, the Men in Black have accepted Smith's resignation in the wake of their innings defeat to Nottinghamshire. It is reported that Durham's supporters are seeing today as Independence Day, and that a collection for Smith has raised only Seven Pounds. Durham's Switch in captaincy is somewhat surprising, as it is the only first class game Durham have lost in the last 21, but Smith's form has suffered; only averaging 16 this year. In a press conference, Smith proclaimed "I am Legend", before departing to applause from fans of the Wild Wild North-East county.

Anyone got any more puns to stick in?

(And The Short Third Man would like to wish Phil Mustard the best of luck as Durham captain. Just not when they're playing Middlesex)

Thursday, 13 May 2010


As I have mentioned numerous times on the blog, I have tipped England to win the World T20 from long ago, way before the squads were even announced. And while there was some problem with my Sport Guru account meaning I couldn't officially predict the England win, I don't care. I don't care that I can no longer win the coveted Test Match Sofa pool, as my team have got into the World T20 final. By playing one of the best matches of limited over cricket possible. Without needing to single anyone out, the bowling, fielding and batting was excellent, and the first ball of the game aside, there was no way Sri Lanka were going to win the game.

Most pundits agree that England will face Australia on Sunday, but while I am not tipping Pakistan to upset the Aussies, I am warning people that Pakistan do have the capability to upset the apple cart. As this is Pakistan, absolutely anything could happen. (pause as I try to make a joke that isn't horribly inappropriate, but fail).

As a Sport Guru yellow cap winner, of the only people worldwide to back England to win it from day 1, and having picked 27 out of the 30 man England football World Cup squad, obviously my predictions are worth listening to. And that makes me feel rather smug.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Kevin Pietersen's Baby Name Ideas:

Kevin Pietersen's Baby Name Ideas:

Kevin Jr.
Kevin Junior
Kevin the Second
Young Kevin
Kay P
Kay Pee

What England owe Ravi

Kevin Pietersen, star of England's World T20 win over South Africa has flown home. In his place comes the black sheep of English cricket Ravi Bopara. Bopara, scapegoated and slaughtered for four indifferent tests on the back of three successive hundreds, has been dropped out of the one day side, and become an unloved, unwanted pariah.

But it wasn't too long ago when Ravi Bopara was the great hope of English cricket. A mainstay of the one-day team (having been part of some fantastic innings - Sri Lanka and India in 2007 to name two), Bopara made English cricket history by scoring three successive test hundreds against the West Indies last year. Bopara was fast-tracked into the test team as a specialist number three (a position he is unfamiliar with) for last summer, but after a few failures he was bombed out for the final Ashes test for the untried Jonathan Trott. Bopara didn't even make the squad for the tour of South Africa, in either the test or one day squad, but was surprisingly named in the World T20 squad. Some would say to simply justify his central contract. But who would be that controversial?

England owe Ravi Bopara. Big time. Ravi is one of our most talented batsmen, and there is no way there isn't a place for him in one of the codes. After those three hundreds (albeit against a West Indies team who had no idea why they were there), Bopara should have nailed on a place in the team for the next five years. Ian Bell has carved out a career from making a score every 10 tests, and he keeps his place. Yes, Bopara had a poor Ashes, but there's no way that Bell deserved to play in that final test ahead of Ravi. Bopara had a poor four tests, Bell had a poor four years. Bell's England career seems to be based on the principle that "he's due runs". What's to say Bopara isn't due runs? Players go in and out of form, and as any cliché-enthusiast will tell you, form is temporary but class is permanent. (Copyright every blog about Dimitar Berbatov ever). Can the selectors really justify Bell over Bopara, when Ravi is clearly the better batsman?

Ravi is definately owed one by the ECB. For the final day at the Oval, where the Ashes was clinched, every England player who played in the series got a medal, lap of honour, and a mention in Andrew Strauss' speech. Monty Panesar, who played in one test, got a special mention. Bopara's imput into England winning was slight, but at least he was part of a test winning team at Lord's. Panesar played out a draw. Bopara's cumulative score of 1-1 was the same as Steve Harmison and Graham Onions, and was equal to Panesar's 0-0. But Onions and Panesar (along with Kevin Pietersen) were all out for the lap of honour, basking in the reflective glory of an Ashes win. Bopara was playing for Essex at Chelmsford.

Bopara didn't make the squads for the tours to South Africa and Bangladesh, or the squad for the T20 tour of Dubai against Pakistan. He made a solid fifty in the T20 warm-up game before this tournament, before he was again dropped. England do owe Ravi Bopara, but ultimately, Ravi Bopara owes England a few scores. If he can make a few match-winning contributions as England win the World T20, Bopara can force himself back into the selectors reckoning for further test and ODI honours. Bopara owes it to himself to make runs. Hopefully starting tonight against New Zealand.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Team England Flying On

Way back during the long hard months of the IPL, I wrote a blog about how England were going to win the World T20. At the time, I had some stick, with naysayers supporting India, Australia, South Africa and even Sri Lanka well ahead of an England team who have never won an international tournament. Especially when you look at England's past T20 fortunes, which have been mixed (to be kind).

But I looked beyond hard stats and conventional opinion. I looked at Kevin Pietersen's brutal run-scoring. I looked at Eoin Morgan's inventive hitting. I looked at the spin of Swann and Yardy, and the handy all-rounders Collingwood, Bresnan and Wright. While I thought England would utilise Broad and Anderson, Sidebottom has performed well and offers a very tight option at the death. Kieswetter and Lumb were an unknown quantity at the top, but I tipped them to fire. I looked at the England team, and I saw a team that could win.

And if they continue as they have against Pakistan and South Africa, there's no reason why they can't.

The great thing about this England team is that they are one - a team. In the South Africa game, every single player (except Luke Wright... sorry Luke) contributed; either making good runs or taking wickets, and it was a fantastic team performance. In recent England one-day history, too much pressure would be put on a Pietersen or a Trescothick to perform, but now the pressure is spread amongst a team which bats 1-11. Collingwood was happy to continue playing attacking strokes, knowing there was Wright, Bresnan and Yardy to follow him, all of whom can hit quick runs. As a captain, Collingwood has so many options; as well as the five front-line bowlers, he also has Wright, Pietersen, Lumb and himself to be called on to have a twirl. And in the field, even Ryan Sidebottom (hardly the most mobile) made two world-class catches - even being likened to a ballerina for his diving effort to dismiss de Villiers.

James Anderson is one of the finest bowlers in the world - and he can't even get into this England team. In Twenty20, form and momentum is everything, and England have both. As the team fly to St Lucia (and I fly up the Sport Guru prediction table), there's no reason why they can't fly back home with the World T20 trophy safely in tow.

Friday, 7 May 2010

The Yellow Cap

The Tour de France has the Yellow Jersey. The IPL has the Orange Cap. And Sport Guru has the Yellow Cap. And I won the Yellow Cap for Round 3 of the Test Match Sofa World T20 prediction league.

Despite forgetting to make a pick for the England / Pakistan game, my excellent prediction skills gave me 3 out of 3 for the other games of the Super 8s so far (including getting the South Africa / New Zealand game on the nose with an SA win by 13 runs). My other predictions, of an unfancied Australian win and an unfavoured Sri Lanka win were also correct, giving me a 100% record for the round, and the best result out of all Test Match Sofa listeners.

I am currently in 8th position in the TMS prediction league, and while I would have originally taken a top-half finish, I'm now going for more. Lizzy - you're in my sights. I've got the momentum. I've got the predictions. Could I make a late surge up the table with the end of the tournament in sight?

Join the fun in the Test Match Sofa pool with the password wormchew

Cricket Election - We have a winner!

After a hard fought campaign, and a close ballot, the Short Third Man is pleased to announce that Andrew Strauss (MP for Middlesex) has been declared winner of the Cricket Election. With a clear overall majority, Strauss assumes the role for his Conservative party (unlike real-life David Cameron, who has to wait).

The Short Third Man would like to thank all who voted, and contributed throughout the cricket election experiment. (Don't worry, I'll never speak of it again).

Strauss celebrates his victory outside 10 Downing Street

For more reaction to the Cricket Election, read this.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Cricket Election - Over to You

From Chief Political Correspondent Michael Lesser

The wait is over. The polls are open. After a long campaign trail, there is nothing more that the three political parties can do. The Short Third Man Cricket Election 2010 will run for the next 24 hours, until a cricket Prime Minister is declared. One of Alastair Cook (Liberal Democrat), Andrew Strauss (Conservative) and Paul Collingwood (Labour) will be named as Prime Minister, and will assume their role as of tomorrow.

Good luck to all candidates.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

... more like the Disgrace-Lewis method...

At the change of innings in the West Indies - England T20 game yesterday, I made a few notes about how England's innings was amongst the best T20 innings around. England fired in the powerplay through first Michael Lumb, and then Craig Kieswetter. They then consolidated during the 'middle overs', with Wright and Morgan keeping the run rate ticking over without losing wickets. After getting their eyes in and finding the pace of the pitch, they then teed off over the final few overs, with a 95 partnership and the highest score of the World T20 so far in 191.

England performed brilliantly, and the innings from Morgan was one of the best T20 innings in the situation. He, alongside the much maligned Luke Wright (whose contribution in changing the momentum should definitely not be ignored) turned the game in England's favour, setting a target which would have been defended 999 times out of 1000.

And then it rained.

It's got to be said that I'm a fan of the Duckworth-Lewis method. Nobody wants to have games where teams need 22 from one ball. And normally, in ODIs, the Duckworth-Lewis method is fair. However, Twenty20 is a very different contest from ODIs. And to be set 30 from 22, after the opposition have posted the highest score just isn't right. While I am not pretending that I have the mathematical know how to even comprehend the vagaries of the D-L method, there must be a few x's and y's that can be moved for T20 games to make it fair for both sides. The advantage for the chasing team with D-L is unbalanced, which was seen as England crashed out of last years World T20 at the hands of (again) the West Indies, who took advantage of a much simpler total to chase.

While England's prospects in the tournament will probably be unaffected by the loss, Mr Duckworth and Mr Lewis should be expecting a call from the ICC telling them to have a rethink about their method for T20 games. England lost in a relatively unimportant group game, but if it's not amended, there could be a much more major victim at a later point in the tournament.

And don't even get me started on the decision to hold an international cricket tournament in Guyana during the rainy season...

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Blind Patriotic Optimism at the World T20

Fans of the English football team will know the feeling. As the World Cup or European Championship approaches, confidence and belief grows in the England team. This is only heightened after a few easy victories in the opening stages, before we eventually crash out when we play our first big team.

As a football fan, this deluded confidence in the team is ingrained into me, and as such, I think that England will win the forthcoming World Cup in South Africa. And as a cricket fan, I also think England will win the current World T20.

Even though I could attribute my confidence to simply being English, I genuinely think England have a massive chance of winning out in the Caribbean. I look at the potentially explosive openers of Kieswetter and Lumb/Bopara; the canny middle order of Pietersen, Collingwood and Morgan; the all-rounders of Bresnan and Wright; the tight fast bowling of Anderson, Broad and Sidebottom; and the spin of Swann and Yardy. Individually, only Pietersen would get into a World Eleven, but as a collective team, there are very few flaws. As a batting line up, I don't think there are any teams in the West Indies who are better, and the bowling of Anderson, Broad and Swann (with back-up from the ever improving Bresnan, Wright and Yardy) has the ability to stifle any opposition. England bat deep, bowl well, and have the option of two or three spinners, which will probably be the key on the slow pitches used in the World T20.

On Twitter, I follow someone who gives cricket odds, who this morning made England 10.25 long-shots. This is surely fantastic odds for the team who will win the World T20, which I said via my Twitter. However, minutes after posting my support, notable Kiwi Iain O'Brien told me that New Zealand will win it, and that England have no chance. I suppose that blind patriotic optimism isn't just limited to the English.

Things the World T20 has given us - Day One

This may be a regular feature, and it may not. But here are some observations I had from what I watched of the first day of the T20 Worlds.

Things the World T20 have given us:

West Indies wearing the worst cricket shirt since England had that light blue one
Nathan McCullum giving us a free ticket to the gun show
William Porterfield having the best accent to ever exist
The Guyanese cheerleaders refusing to dance when Shiv got out
Dinesh Ramdin dancing and singing to Sean Kingston without realising the camera was on him
Shiv getting a rather homo-erotic massage as the West Indian wickets fell
A 17 year old with grey hair
A really close game
Not a very close game

Would you find these in the IPL?