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Clock ticking towards World Twenty20

Posted in ICC World Twenty20

Eoin Morgan & Colin Smith

Eoin Morgan gives us a sample of his unorthodox strokeplay against Scotland

Regular visitors to this site will no doubt be familiar with our countdown timer ahead of the ICC World Twenty20.

For anyone that isn’t, there are two days, three hours and 33 minutes to go until this most eagerly awaited of competitions. Actually, make that two days, three hours and 32 minutes. Sorry, 31 minutes now. Oh, I give up...

My point is, the suspense will be over very soon, and we can enjoy what promises to be a sensational 17 days of cricket.

Judging by the sneak preview we have had during this week’s warm-up matches, we are in for quite a treat.

A quick glance down any of the team sheets is enough to have even the most dry-mouthed of spectators salivating at the prospect of what lies in store.

So what does it for you? Maybe it is the unorthodoxy and bravado of Kevin Pietersen, whose switch-hit was kept under wraps as England beat Scotland last night but is certain to get an airing during the tournament proper.

Ditto Eoin Morgan’s reverse reverse-paddle, a shot that defies belief as well as the coaching manual, and Bangladeshi Shakib Al Hasan’s flick over the shoulder, which is sure to leave overambitious club players sporting a black eye.

Ross Taylor

Ross Taylor gets acquainted with the Lord's Grandstand in a warm-up encounter this week

For those with a penchant for power hitting, look no further than New Zealand’s Ross Taylor, who peppered the Lord’s Grandstand with his trademark slog-sweeps against India, or India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, he of six sixes fame from the inaugural World Twenty20 two years ago.

And how can we forget Chris Gayle, back to his savage best with 88 not out off 56 balls as West Indies put their recent misery behind them by swatting Ireland aside yesterday.

Traditionalists need not fear, for Mahela Jayawardene’s masterful 43 for Sri Lanka against Bangladesh was a glorious vignette of what can be achieved through authentic strokeplay, timing and placement.

Contrary to popular belief, Lord’s, Trent Bridge and The Oval should not necessarily be regarded as bowlers’ graveyards over the next two weeks, and those with the nous and bravery to take on the mighty willow will be rewarded.

English crowds may have had their first glimpse of the inimitable Ajantha Mendis, but even the world’s premier batsmen will struggle to solve the problem of deciphering the Sri Lankan’s unique blend of off-spinners, googlies and the famed ‘carrom ball’.

New Zealand captain and conventional left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori has shown what can be achieved through guile and changes of pace, while the deliberate pause in Majid Haq’s delivery stride, as witnessed against England, is sure to raise a few eyebrows outside the Scotland camp.

Mitchell Johnson

Mitchell Johnson leads the fast bowlers' charge with four wickets against New Zealand

The explosive demonstrated by Australians Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee with the new ball against New Zealand last night served as a reminder of the threat posed by the quicker men on English pitches, no matter how much the sun has shone in recent days.

And Stuart Broad’s tactic of bowling round the wicket and wide of off stump is unlikely to be the only innovative method employed by a fielding side trying to stem the flow of runs late in the innings.

Throw in the prospect of the occasional super-over finish, as we witnessed between Ireland and Holland on Monday, and we have all the ingredients for a cricketing feast over the next two weeks.

As ever in England, we need the weather to play its part, but those bare-chested spectators who are now the proud owners of a tomato red/golden brown tan (delete as appropriate) can have no complaints so far.

If you need to top up on sunscreen supplies before the action gets under way, my advice is to hurry up. The clock is ticking.