League. It will not impress the ICC that their tournament ranks 3rd in my book, but to hell with them. It should still be a lot of fun.
In my view, the thing that sets the other 2 tournaments aside is the fact that there haven't been, nor are there likely to be any matches deemed to be very obviously one sided before a ball is bowled. The same cannot be said about the T20 WC. To look down the fixture list in search of a one-sided clash, one needs look no further than Game 1 featuring (term used loosely) England and the Netherlands. No matter how crap England are at the moment in the T20 format, one can't see the Dutchmen banking maximum points on opening day. 3 of the first 5 games should result in landslides and there will be many more to follow in the group stages. I do believe it will be good to watch from Game 13 onwards by which time minnows should have eliminated. The tournament really only kicks off at Super 8 stage.
After a fantastic warm up in the shape of the IPL, all except possibly 7 or 8 of the world's best players will have had time to play themselves into form, or get the bad form out of the way depending on how you wish to look at it. Mitchell Johnson, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and 1 or 2 others along with the entire Pakistan team should be reasonably well rested. So everyone participating will be able to put a positive spin on their preparations.
2 sides in particular will put their hands up in the form department - India and SA. Defending champions India will have a lot more pressure on them this time round as holders I would think, not that there wasn't much pressure on them in the previous edition. In a way, SA will have less pressure on them given the fact that they've had a good summer regardless and this time round they are not hosting the tournament. Sa have gone in with a squad that virtually selected itself, and most of the team members reached good form during the IPL. To be an Indian selector can't be the easiest job it world sport at the moment and no matter what final XI is settled on, there will always be good players being left out, such is the depth in Indian cricket at the moment
While all teams will have a chance and anything can happen come semi final time (pick your cliche), the reality is that teams with quality players and proven BMT are more likely to rise to the top. For your winner, look no further than India, South Africa or Australia. There, I've said it. Every other side in this tournament is there to make up the numbers.
The warm up games have led me to believe a few things to be true :
- Scott Styris - the 'step' shaven into his head didn't work for Jason Donovan, and it won't work for him - but he'll be there to mop up the shortcomings of his so-called flamboyant opening batsman - he of KKR fame
- Rohit Sharma - In 15 years' time Rohit will be remembered as one of India's best ever. And by that time it will be a case of Yuvraj who ?
- Like any of the top sides, India can blow hot and cold. When they blow cold they may lose close games or even still win against lesser teams. When they blow hot they will be decidely unstoppable.
- South Africa look very well prepared. As they did for World Cups in 1996 (Lara blitz in quarters),1999 (tied semi after mix up),2003 (DL cock up) etc etc - need I say more ?
- DLF maximums (although not so called in this tournament) will abound. In some areas, the boundaries at Lords are 60m. Ropes have been brought in at both other grounds as well. For people like Morkel,Yuvraj,Jayasuriya and numerous others, short-arm jabs will clear the ropes at a canter
- The IPL's 160 avg winning score will have to climb. Pitches will be flat and with short boundaries and dare I say a few inferior attacks, 180 will become par.
- The recent IPL produced 2 centuries in 59 games. The T20 WC will produce more hundreds in half the number of games
- I think the pitches will offer something to real pace, and good spin. Run of the mill medium pacers will travel. Collingwood, Oram, Maharoof, Luke Wright and co had best hope they all bat and field well if they intend to contribute.
- Minnows are minnows in any form. Bangladesh may surprise the odd team, but Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands will leave , in the words of Anne Robinson, with nothing.
- Pakistan will be Pakistan. They will murder more fancied opposition at some stage. And they will throw away at least 1 game from a very dominant position. Of not entertaining they will never be accused.
- If the full England team were playing in my back garden, I would draw the curtains. A sorrier, less glamourous, less effective outfit you will not see. KP will produce the odd cameo but it will not be enough to save the 3 Lions.
- 1 of Sa, India or Australia will win it.