Build-up hampers England

  • Last Updated: March 15 2014, 13:28 GMT

England's prospects of regaining their ICC World Twenty20 crown in Bangladesh were far from obvious, long before a raft of injuries took hold.

Stuart Broad: Injury concern
Stuart Broad: Injury concern

In the past two weeks preceding the start of the global tournament on Sunday, seven probable first-choice players - including captain and vice-captain - have succumbed to physical ailments of varying severity.

Joe Root and Ben Stokes are both out of the tournament with broken bones in their right hand, the latter via his own temper.

Replacements Ian Bell and Chris Woakes do not necessarily weaken England's resources. But neither was part of Plan A either, and their urgent inclusion is part of an unhelpfully destabilising narrative over the course of the short preparatory tour of the West Indies.

Stuart Broad's patella tendinitis is the biggest concern of all.

He had to miss the final two matches of the Twenty20 series lost to the current world champions in Bridgetown, to have an injection on a chronic problem.

His readiness for England's group matches is in no way assured, and it is thought highly likely he will miss Tuesday's opening warm-up fixture in Fatullah at least - against the Windies, for a change.

Broad's deputy Eoin Morgan has been playing, not especially well by his standards, through the pain of his bruised knee for the past four matches.

Alex Hales and Luke Wright have also sat out games with apparently less serious injuries, while Michael Lumb has missed no cricket but did take a nasty bang to his knee in the penultimate encounter with the Windies at the Kensington Oval.

More than ever, since Stokes contrived to break a bone in his right hand punching a dressing-room locker after making a golden duck two days ago, it has become tempting to depict a team positively shambling into a tournament which will test their skill and resolve to the hilt in any case.

England have shown limited aptitude to deal with the near wall-to-wall spin sure to be deployed against them in Bangladesh, and significant opponents will stand in their way to get as far as the knockout stages.

New Zealand have plenty of firepower and nous; Sri Lanka have ended England's interest in the last two global tournaments, both also on the subcontinent, and South Africa are a formidable if occasionally flaky team in all formats.

Finally, a qualifier - very likely Ireland - will be England's last hurdle in Chittagong.

After the events of Bangalore in 2011, where Kevin O'Brien unforgettably hoisted Ireland to an astonishing victory, England know they cannot count on success against their neighbours any more.

It is not without good reason that the bookmakers, albeit in a tight market, have England as the least likely of the top eight nations to be this year's Twenty20 champions.

Were Kevin Pietersen still in harness - he was not either for the last edition, in his period of 'reintegration' - England might be a point shorter or a place higher.

Only hosts Bangladesh, among the Test-playing countries, are below them in the betting - and they first have to go through a qualification group, starting in the tournament opener against Afghanistan.

If England are not exactly the likeliest of lads then, who are?

Of the previous winners, the West Indies are seriously considered - and have looked a powerful force in victory over England in Barbados this past week.

Others, nonetheless, appear to have the edge in appropriate personnel.

This title means a fair bit to India these days, certainly more so than it did when they were inaugural winners in South Africa in 2007.

Seven years on, India - slightly more so than Pakistan and probably South Africa - have a team of superstars that could easily win again.

Sri Lanka, twice beaten finalists, are regular challengers in this format. The current side, however, does not quite look to be a percentage call.

Instead, perhaps the likeliest winners hail from a country which has surprisingly never won this tournament.

Australia have excelled again recently in Test cricket, to England's great cost, and may have all bases covered in the Twenty20 format too.

It is hard to find a weak link in their powerhouse batting line-up and they have been pragmatic in the selection of evergreens Brad Hodge and Brad Hogg to excel in the conditions.

It could just be their turn this time.


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