The T20 World Cup kicks off tonight with the hosts South Africa taking on the West Indies. The next two weeks should insure some spectacular cricket, with flair and freedom being openly expressed in a 20 over sprint. Tactical know how will be a huge aspect of any side hoping to come out on top in the final on September 24, but individual brilliance will go along way to getting your side there. The nature of the game means that one performance is more likely to win a game then it is in the longer versions.
Here are some of the players you can expect to make an impact on the tournament.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies) – Chanderpaul is that rare breed of batsman that looks equally at home in any given situation. In Test cricket he is more accustomed to a patient, measured innings, but given the situation will hit out. In ODI cricket he can be both the anchor of an innings, allowing the big hitters to play around him, or he can be one of those charged with finding the boundary as often as possible. Has only played in 2 T20 games but his flexibility, in the order and in his approach, will be an asset to the Windies. Had a golden period with the bat in England, in all forms of the game, and will be hoping to carry that through the next two weeks.
Dwayne Bravo (West Indies) – Brovo is the future of the West Indies. A young all around with enthusiasm, aggression, and talent in abundance, who is going to win many games for the West Indies, if he is properly looked after and develops the necessary consistency to be a match winner. His batting, fielding, and death bowling will be key to whether or not the Windies are to be competitive enough to challenge the likes of Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Marlon Samuels (West Indies) – While year or so ago Chris Gayle would have been the batting hope of the West Indies top order, such has been his loss of form, and the emergence of Samuels as a big clean hitter of a cricket ball, that much will be expected of the 26 year old Jamaican batsman. While Samuels does not have the most impressive Test and ODI record, averaging under 30 in both, his T20 record is one that bears much encouragement for the West Indies. In 5 matches, 2 of them internationals, he has an average of 37,5 with a spectacular strike rate of 189,7. In the two internationals he has played that strike rate has jumped to 202,17. Samuels will definitely be one that opposition captains will want to keep quiet.
Andrew Symonds (Australia) – Thanks to his county cricket stints Symonds will be one of the most experienced T20 players in the tournament, having amassed 17 games in his career, with 4 of those being internationals. T20 was seemingly made for players like Symonds, with his record bearing testament to that. With the bat he averages 62,5 in his 4 games with a strike rate of 198,41 and with the ball he has the hugely impressive stats of an average of just 13,85 and an economy rate of only 6,92. Add to this his fielding brilliance and Symonds could be the star of this inaugural T20 competition.
Michael Hussey (Australia) – Another player with county experience in T20 cricket, Hussey has become the best finisher of an innings in ODI career over the last few years. The once opening batsman has been a revelation in the middle order has he has rescued innings, added to already imposing totals and taken a par score to an out of reach one with such regularity and consistency that sometimes seems super human. Hussey had a poor World Cup and will be hoping to make up for that this time around.
Andrew Flintofff (England) – Flintoff is Englands most important player, a true all rounder, his batting or is bowling could be a match winner on any given day. Has been dogged by injuries lately but with a maximum of 4 overs per bowler, two bursts of 2 overs each could be ideal for Flintoff. His batting has tailed off lately, but given the freedom of T20 cricket could just make a resounding come back.
Dimitri Mascarenhas (England) – Mascarenhas has only been drafted into the squad because Ryan Sidebottom has been withdrawn due to injury. On evidence of the recent Natwest Series against India Mascharenhas should have been one of the first names in the squad. He is the lower middle order batsman, a finisher, that England have been searching for. During the Natwest Series he scored 52 of 39 balls at Bristol, and at the Oval hit the last 5 balls of the innings for 6. His bowling has also been useful and economical.
The next installment of players to watch will be up tomorrow, featuring players from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.