Can England Retain the T20 World Cup?

Jos Buttler England PA

It’s not too often that England goes into a World Cup as the defending champions. That will be the case in June though when the T20 World Cup takes place in the West Indies and the USA.

Can England’s cricket team become the first country to retain the trophy?

It was in Australia two years ago that England won the T20 World Cup for the second time in their history. Their previous victory had been ten years beforehand when beating Australia in the final.

Two years ago, the tournament was held in Australia where England doesn’t have a great recent record of winning matches. They finished second behind New Zealand in Group 1 of the Super 12s winning three of their five matches. Their only loss was to Ireland but that was in a rain-affected match.

Wins over Afghanistan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka saw them go into the knockout stages. Organisers will hope for better weather this year after several matches (including England v Australia) had to be abandoned.

The knockout stages saw England get an outstanding semi-final victory over India. England didn’t just win with four overs to spare but didn’t even lose a wicket. Alex Hales top scored with 86 not out off just 47 balls.

That took England into a final against Pakistan with England again batting second. They needed 138 to win and did so with an over to spare thanks to an innings of 52 from Ben Stokes.

Now it’s time to defend their title, something no side has managed to do in this tournament that was first staged in 2007. This is the ninth T20 World Cup and only England and the West Indies have won the trophy twice.

It’s not been a good tournament for the host nation. Only Sri Lanka have even managed to make it to a final when losing to the West Indies in 2012.

Seeing the game expand around the world is important for cricket. This year sees a record twenty countries taking part in the finals of the T20 World Cup. Canada and Uganda will be playing in the finals for the first time.

This is the first T20 World Cup that will see the USA hosting matches. It means their national team will be making their first appearance in the finals.

They’ll need to be in form though having been drawn in a group that also includes India, Pakistan, Ireland and Canada. They’ll need to finish in the top two to reach the Super 8’s and that looks very unlikely.

England is in Group B in the first round and will take on Australia, Namibia, Scotland, and Oman. The defending champions should have few problems qualifying from that group. The latest enhanced odds and free bets from the UK sites have Namibia, Scotland, and Oman as big outsiders to win the tournament. Betting companies such as Coral and Bet365 also offer in-play bets and live streaming on the event.

Will England be able to win the group though? They are the third favourites to win the trophy for a record third time. India top the betting list with Australia just behind them. Obviously, the  match against Australia will be the key match that should determine who finishes first in Group B.

England begin their campaign on June 4 with a match against Scotland in Barbados. Scotland won all six of their qualifying matches, including a convincing win over Italy. The Scots hit 245-2 in their 20 overs with Ollie Hairs hitting 127 not out off just 53 balls. They then bowled the Italians out for just 90.

They did even better against Austria, scoring 232 (George Munsey scoring 132) and then dismissing the outclassed Austria for 60. Their best win was over fellow-qualifiers Ireland but they are likely to find this group a tough challenge.

England have announced their provisional 15-man squad for the tournament and ten of the players took part in the 2022 T20 World Cup. There’s no Ben Stokes or Chris Woakes this time around.

Jofra Archer has had injury problems aplenty but the Sussex bowler has been included. He’ll appreciate a return to the fast wickets of the West Indies. There’s also a place for the uncapped left-arm spinner Tom Hartley who impressed in the recent test series in India.

England do have a strong batting line-up with Buttler (who captains the team), Bairstow, Brook, Duckett. Ali and Salt all included. Brook and Duckett have already had some success in this year’s County Championship. They’ll be hoping to do better than the dismal ODI World Cup performance that saw them win just three of their nine matches.

Bowlers such as Archer, Rashid, Ali, Hartley, Jordan, Wood and Sam Curran give England a good chance of coming home as world champions.