Saturday, June 22, 2024

The main talking points ahead of the T20 World Cup

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The men’s T20 World Cup will be up for grabs again in June, the ninth edition of the tournament that debuted in 2007.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key issues in the run-up to a month-long festival of short-form cricket.

Pressure on England

Jos Buttler must improve on England’s 2023 World Cup failure (Tim Goode/PA)

Jos Buttler’s side come in as defending champions, having won the title in Melbourne back in 2022, but the same was true in last year’s 50-over World Cup when things went horribly wrong. England’s reputation as swashbuckling, front-foot aggressors came crashing down as they lost six out of their nine games in India and left with big questions over head coach Matthew Mott and Buttler. While those two have their jobs to fight for there are eight other survivors from that squad, meaning plenty with a point to prove and a legacy to burnish.

Reborn in the USA?

Like a mid-90s Britpop band, cricket remains infatuated with the notion of ‘cracking’ America. By awarding co-hosting rights to its most marketable product, the International Cricket Council has now given itself half a chance. While the majority of the fixtures, including the semis and final, will be staged in the Caribbean, a total of 16 games will be held at grounds in Texas, New York and Florida. The curtain-raising clash between India and Pakistan alone will attract enormous viewing figures and energise the ex-pat communities of both countries. To make any kind of real impact the quality of the pitches and the size of the attendances must hold up, while the their own team need to turn in a respectable first-time performance.

India expects

Rohit Sharma is charged with ending India's trophy drought.
Rohit Sharma is charged with ending India’s trophy drought (David Davies/PA)

Despite boasting unparalleled riches, a huge depth of playing talent and one of the biggest franchise leagues in sport, India have gone more than a decade without landing a global title. It was back in 2013 that a young MS Dhoni lifted the Champions Trophy, since when there have been a litany of misses and close calls. That was all supposed to end on home soil last year, where they were hot favourites to take the ODI crown in helpful conditions. Imperious for most of the tournament they were duly mugged by Australia in the final to the fury and frustration of their fans and administrators. Another disappointment, fresh off the back of the IPL, would not go down well.

Farewell tour

David Warner will be waving goodbye to international cricket.
David Warner will be waving goodbye to international cricket (Adam Davy/PA)

Every major tournament has the potential to be a changing of the guard moment, with new stars made and old favourites making a last stand. This time is no different, with plenty of established names in the autumn of their career. Australian bruiser David Warner, 37, has already confirmed he is leaving the stage at the end of the campaign, while India skipper Rohit Sharma could be heading the same way with a queue of would-be successors snapping at his heels. The likes of Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Glenn Maxwell are others who may not come this way again. Among the England squad, Moeen Ali is expected to make way and there is no certainty about the long-term status of Adil Rashid and Jonny Bairstow. Not every goodbye will be on their own terms, meaning a few short weeks for some to make one last move.

Underdogs on the big stage

Cricket has often been reluctant to open its doors beyond a select club of committed countries but has pinpointed T20 as the format to drive growth beyond its traditional heartlands. So, a few months on from a 10-team 50-over World Cup, there will be twice as many teams on the start line this time. A 20-team tournament makes it the biggest ever, up from 16 last time around, and there are plenty of outsiders looking to make a name. Among a raft of newcomers, Uganda pipped the likes of Zimbabwe and Kenya in the Africa Qualifier, Nepal and Oman added to the Asian contingent and Papua New Guinea took the solitary East-Asia Pacific spot ahead of Japan. Each will bring a host of human-interest stories and a dream of landing a shock result. The tournament – and the wider cricketing world – is crying out for one.

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