Just under a year remains until the 2020 T20 World Cup gets under way in Australia, with the 12 top teams set to battle it out for the grand prize Down Under.
The premier international sides have already shifted their focus to the shortest format of the game with the next 12 months set to afford them ample time to get their T20 combinations right.
As we take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the major contenders for the 2020 tournament, it is time to turn to 2019 ICC World Cup champions England. Click here to read about the other leading contenders for the tournament.
Everything about England in the last four years has primarily been geared towards lifting the 50-over 2019 World Cup on home soil. While that objective was achieved in the most thrilling of fashions at Lord’s in the summer, there is no doubt that Eoin Morgan and his men will be one of the prime contenders for the 2020 tournament in Australia as well.
That white-ball focus by England has translated to their T20 set-up as well with the team currently perched in second spot in the ICC Rankings. They have won four of their last five bilateral T20I series with the sole loss coming against India.
There has been a change in management with Trevor Bayliss’ four-year tenure coming to an end and the Australian has been replaced by former Essex head coach Chris Silverwood in the dugout.
With the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) putting limited-overs cricket on overdrive, the team is brimming with multi-dimensional players who can do the job with both bat and ball.
They have a unit with capable batsmen all the way down to the No10 spot while the top-order contains some of the cleanest strikers of the cricket ball. Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and skipper Morgan bring the firepower while Joe Root provides the perfect foil as anchor.
In the bowling department, Jofra Archer’s recent inclusion has brought the X-factor and the Barbados-born pacer brings with him the experience of playing in several franchise T20 leagues around the globe, including the Big Bash League in Australia.
Apart from Archer, the rest of the bowling attack does not evoke much fear although it is still too early to make any judgement. Adil Rashid is an experienced spinner but he can still leak runs like a rusty bucket on his day. Liam Plunkett has seemingly been discarded after the World Cup and his experience will sorely be missed. Chris Jordan is turning into a white-ball specialist of late and England will hope that he can keep up his recent promising displays.
The Curran brothers have played a fair bit of T20 cricket but they still need to be tested more at the international level. Meanwhile, Lancashire pacer Saqib Mahmood and spinner Matt Parkinson are some of the new call ups to the T20I outfit and it remains to be seen how they take to the big stage for England.
What they need to over the next 12 months
The experimental phase for England has already started with several new names being given an opportunity in the recently concluded T20I series in New Zealand. They include top-order batsman Tom Banton, who made quite the name for himself in the 2019 Vitality T20 Blast. Banton, Worcestershire seamer Pat Brown, Mahmood and Parkinson will give plenty of depth to an already stacked squad, although it remains to be seen how to they adapt to international cricket a few months further down the line.
The recalled Dawid Malan grabbed his chance with both hands in the series against the Blackcaps and the left-hander definitely needs to be given more chances to cement his credentials.
With the amount of white-ball cricket England have played over the last few years, they can afford to rest their big stars and test their bench strength instead in the coming months. It is a luxury not many international teams in the world have at this stage. Should the newcomers come good, it will hand England the problem of plenty and that is one headache Morgan and the team management will not mind.
They will, however, want to get a settled bowling unit in order and the likes of Jordan and the Curran siblings need to get an extended run in the squad for that to happen.
While T20 cricket played second fiddle to ODIs in recent years for England, the ECB have left no stone unturned for the 2020 World Cup preparations. Following their five T20I clashes against the Kiwis, England will which next play bilateral series against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan in the coming months.
All the opponents are fellow contenders for the 2020 tournament and they should give England a good indication of where they stand come October next year.
Key man – Jofra Archer
While the batting firepower is there for all to see, England’s man main is definitely Jofra Archer. His World Cup impact was immense and England can expect even more from the express pacer in the T20 format.
Archer was already setting the T20 franchise league circuit ablaze before he was given his first England call-up and the fast bowler should have no troubles in stamping his authority in the shortest format for his national team.
He can pick u[ wickets with the new ball while his death bowling skills are up there with the likes of Jasprit Bumrah. He already has plenty of experience playing in Aussie conditions with his BBL stints and that bodes well for England’s hopes.
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