The inaugural ICC World Twenty20 starts at the Wanderers in Johannesburg today. England's first game is against Zimbabwe on Thursday at Newlands, Cape Town, while their eagerly awaited clash with Australia will be on Friday. Joining commentators Jonathan and Alison Mitchell will be England greats Geoff Boycott and Graham Gooch, with Ian Chappell providing the Australian perspective.
Paul Collingwood says the England cricket team is on a high after their Natwest Series victory over India and hopes that thrilling success will help compensate for a lack of acclimatisation time ahead of the competition. Having already played seven matches against India in 18 days, it is a gruelling timetable but one Collingwood believes could benefit them.
“It’s been a quick turnaround from the one-day series against India but we’ve played some fantastic cricket against them and we’re coming into this tournament with a lot of confidence,” said Collingwood, the England captain.
“We’re buzzing - it’s only been a couple of days since we won the game on Saturday - and I think that quick turnaround could work in our favour. All the players are in good form, they’re confident and when you’re confident you go out there and play your best cricket.”
Unlike some of the nations involved, England’s schedule has not allowed a practice game before they face Zimbabwe later this week, which many critics believe could hamper their prospects after three weeks of 50-overs cricket. But Collingwood believes the same disciplines provide the ingredients for success in both forms of the limited overs game.
“There are a lot of basic one-day skills that you can take into Twenty20 cricket," he added. "There are the same type of thought processes and the same approaches, but it’s a lot quicker and you haven’t got as many balls to face or to bowl.
“Because we’ve been practising those skills over the last four or five weeks hopefully we can continue improving and take that confidence into the games themselves and allow the players to go out there and express themselves.
“What this format of cricket is really about is going out there, enjoying yourself and backing yourself in the middle.”
With little time to formulate a line-up - which has been complicated by the addition of Twenty20 specialists like Darren Maddy and Chris Schofield to the squad and Andrew Flintoff’s lingering ankle problems - an England success over the next fortnight would rank as a significant achievement.
Having claimed their first notable series success over major opposition since beating India three years previously, Collingwood admits the challenge ahead is exciting for the whole squad.
“It would be very special to win this,” he said. “A lot of people have talked down Twenty20 cricket but to us, whenever we put these England shirts on and wear the three lions it’s an important occasion. We’re 100 per cent committed to this and if we play well in the tournament and go back with a trophy I’ll be absolutely delighted. When you’re playing for England, it doesn’t matter what format of the game it is, it’s important.
“We’re not taking it lightly and there’s a big excitement in the camp after we did well in the one-dayers but that’s gone now and this is a big challenge for us.”
Copyright Speakers Corner 2017