Sri Lanka look best bet for wide open Twenty20 World Cup
The thing about Twenty20 cricket in general and the World Cup in particular is that it is pretty unpredictable. Sadly for England, it is not so unpredictable that we can’t safely write them off from winning the latest tournament in Bangladesh.
Coral go 14/1 that England win a second Twenty20 World Cup after their heroics in the West Indies in 2010, but it would take a brave man to back them again after such a terrible winter in Australia followed by an uninspiring limited overs short tour in the Caribbean.
Apart from their many other shortcomings and crises, England just don’t have the spin quality needed for the slow pitches they will encounter, especially now Graeme Swann has retired. With the best will in the world, they will do very well to reach the semi-finals.
So who are the potential winners? Cases can be made for any one of the other seven major test nations. including 9/1 shots New Zealand, who possess real firepower in the shape of captain Brendon McCullum (second only to Aussie slogger Aaron Finch in the world rankings) and Martin Guptill.
Australia are on the crest of a wave after crushing England and then beating South Africa on their own turf and are understandably 3/1 favourites with Coral, despite being only fifth in the world rankings.
Nobody can doubt their batting credentials – David Warner, Shane Watson and George Bailey can win a game on their own on their day, quite apart from Finch. Mitchell Johnson will be sorely missed in the bowling department, but more important will be how effective their spinners are.
Reigning champions the West Indies (6/1) can never be written off and they do appear to have good spin options, including current world number one and two Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree.
When it comes to match-winning spinners, however, no country has produced more mystery tweakers than India (5/1) and Pakistan (15/2) over the years.
India, winners in 2007, haven’t played much Twenty20 cricket since the last World Cup and may be a little undercooked, while Pakistan, successful in 2009, might struggle to make enough runs, but both teams have the class to go all the way if things fall right for them.
South Africa (13/2) have yet to make a real impact in this tournament and though they have a good chance of progressing to the semi-finals from the weaker group, that might again be as far as it goes.
Which leaves Sri Lanka (11/2), currently top of the Twenty20 world rankings. With several big hitting batsmen, quality spinners, fine fielders and the inimitable Lasith Malinga slinging them down at the death, this may be the time for the 2009 and 2012 runners-up to finally get their hands on the trophy.