England adept at lowering expectations
England might be ranked a single point behind table-toppers South Africa in Twenty20 cricket, but they do not travel to Sri Lanka for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 with much optimism. The reigning champions of global events usually attempt to defend their titles as one of the favourites, but two years can be a long time in the shortest format and realistically England are outsiders amongst the big guns in the T20 world cup betting odds.
The main reason for this is the conditions expected to be present in Sri Lanka. Whilst the prevalence of spin-friendly conditions, still so alien and confusing to English batsmen, has reduced in recent years, the pitches are likely to be slow and low. Power hitting is the order of the day, with the approach of using pace on the ball to hit boundaries that is used in England of no use.
The need for big hitters highlights England’s other main problem: the absence of Kevin Pietersen. Man of the series when England won their first major international event in the Caribbean, the controversial star is impossible to replace.
An under-achiever in Twenty20 cricket for some time, he has become a master of the format he so vocally supports in recent months, passing 30 in nine of his last 12 T20 knocks for England. He showed his worth in stunning style on sub continental pitches in this year’s IPL.
Experts, fans and punters over at http://betting.betfair.com/cricket/ are all undecided on the future of Pietersen, who may but cut out of international cricket altogether. But they are all united in the belief that he will be sorely missed in Sri Lanka.
England are still in the early stages of Stuart Broad’s captaincy and whilst a lack of preparation is not a barrier to success – they won in 2010 with a brand new opening partnership – there are bound to be teams with better plans in place in Sri Lanka. In general terms England have not played well recently when expected to do well, so reduced expectations is perhaps no bad thing.