T20 World Cup: England team preview - Form, a concern

The wounds of the 2016 final — where it lost a thriller against the West Indies — are still fresh. Placed in the same group with the West Indies, England will be hoping to make an impact right from the start.

Jos Buttler will have to play a key role if England wishes to add yet another trophy to its cabinet.   -  Sportzpics

Value addition: The selectors sprang a surprise by including Tymal Mills in the squad after four-and-a-half years. Mills had a decent outing in The Hundred, featuring for the Southern Brave.   -  AFP

No Ben Stokes. No Jofra Archer. No Sam Curran.

Even then, England appears to be a buoyant unit ahead of the T20 World Cup.

The Eoin Morgan-led side comes into the tournament following back-to-back T20I series wins against Sri Lanka and Pakistan and that certainly would give the team enough confidence.

Under the leadership of Morgan, the team has plenty to play for. Ever since the advent of the T20 World Cup, England has won it just once — in 2010 — and it has been a long wait since. The wounds of the 2016 final — where it lost a thriller against the West Indies — are still fresh. Placed in the same group with the West Indies, England will be hoping to make an impact right from the start.

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When the team won the ODI World Cup in 2019, it relied heavily on Stokes and Archer, but with both the stars out of action due to injury, England will have to get the team combination right.

Challenge for batters

The batting department has enough depth with captain Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali in its ranks.

However, it will certainly be a challenge for the batters to tackle the hot and humid conditions of the United Arab Emirates.

Even though Morgan led Kolkata Knight Riders to the final of the just concluded Indian Premier League, there has been a dip in his batting form. In the nine innings of the UAE leg of the IPL, Morgan scored only 41 runs and that is certainly a major concern for England.

It has been a similar story for Livingstone.

The big-hitting batter, who had a sensational outing in The Hundred, could manage only 42 runs in the five IPL outings, raising serious doubts over his ability to adapt to the conditions of the UAE.

Bairstow and Buttler will return to action after a break, and it would be a challenge for them to shrug off the jitters and settle down early.

So, at a time when the top batters are not in the best of forms, England might have to look at Jason Roy and Dawid Malan in crunch times.

Both are seasoned campaigners, and have guided England home many times, and this time, too, a lot will depend on how they handle the situation.

Bowling line-up looks balanced

Even though Sam Curran has been ruled out of the tournament due to injury, England’s bowling department looks pretty sorted with the presence of Chris Jordan, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes.

The selectors sprang a surprise by including Tymal Mills in the squad after four-and-a-half years.

Over the last few years, Mills has been plagued by injuries and in 2015, he was diagnosed with a congenital back condition. However, Mills — who was considered one of the most destructive bowlers in the shorter format — did not lose hope and continued featuring in franchise leagues. He had a decent outing in The Hundred, featuring for the Southern Brave.

While Mills’ experience will count, Tom Curran, too, adds extra zing to the attack. But the conditions in the UAE could be tricky for the fast bowlers, and that’s where someone like Aadil Rashid could prove effective.

The biggest strength of this side is its experience. England has the potential to beat the odds in crunch times. There are several match-winners in the team, but in a tournament like the T20 World Cup, regrouping early will be the key.

Weakness: The recent form of the England batters has been a concern and most of the top guns — including captain Morgan — are going through a rough patch.

The squad
  • Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Tom Curran, Liam Livingstone, Tymal Mills, Jason Roy, Chris Woakes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, David Willey, Mark Wood
  • Reserves: Liam Dawson, James Vince, Reece Topley

X-Factor: Jos Buttler

Jos Buttler will have to play a key role if England wishes to add yet another trophy to its cabinet. A seasoned campaigner, Buttler has been a genuine match-winner and he needs to find his mojo early in the tournament in a bid to give that boost to England’s title hopes.