For the first time in their history, England goes into the Twenty20 World Cup as defending champions.
Two years ago, the team left the West Indies having beaten old rivals Australia in the final. Now, they prepare to travel to Sri Lanka for the 2012 competition. Sri Lanka presents its own problems for England, who have struggled on the pitches of the subcontinent.
Here is the 15-man squad England should take in order to defend their title.
Kevin Pietersen was pencilled in to open for England in Twenty20 matches, but his recent retirement from the shorter forms of the game means he is no longer eligible for selection.
Craig Kieswetter has been a stalwart in England’s ODI and Twenty20 squads for the last few years, and will almost certainly be selected as he is also the wicketkeeper.
Alex Hales had a slow start to his international Twenty20 career, with a two-ball duck against India. However, he came back with an unbeaten 62 against the West Indies. The 6’5” Nottingham opener has tremendous power, and with Kieswetter can form a potent combination during the powerplay overs.
As a reserve opener, England should look to Michael Lumb, a powerful batsman who can score runs in a hurry and has plenty of experience in Twenty20 matches having played 111 in his career.
Eion Morgan has proved to be an outstanding player for England, and is also the Twenty20 vice captain. His shot can often be unorthodox and risky, but he is capable of scoring plenty of runs in a hurry.
Jonny Bairstow didn’t give his best performance in his Test debut against the West Indies recently, but has been in England’s Twenty20 side before. He would also be the reserve wicketkeeper for this side.
Jos Buttler has also recently been involved in the Twenty20 squad, and likely will also travel. He has a solid range of shots, and will join his Somerset teammate Craig Kieswetter in the squad.
Ben Stokes has become one of England’s best domestic all-rounders, performing well both for Durham and England. However, he has yet to bowl a ball in an international Twenty20 match, though I still predict him to travel to Sri Lanka
Ravi Bopara is another batsman available to England who can take apart an opposing bowling attack. He is also a medium pace bowler, and has the best bowling figures by any player for England in a Twenty20 match with a 4/10 stint.
Tim Bresnan has been an England mainstay over the past few years and can contribute both with the bat and ball. Bresnan will help lead the England attack as one of its senior bowlers.
Chris Woakes has played for England in Twenty20 matches and has even opened the bowling. His experience against Sri Lanka last year could come in useful as he has valuable experience with the local pitches.
Graeme Swann is still one of, if not the best spinners in the world. He will have a spot for him on the plane to Sri Lanka.
As a reserve spinner, Scott Borthwick would likely be a good choice, having had some success on the subcontinent’s pitches before, including a five wicket haul against a Hyderabad XI.
As for the seamers, Stuart Broad will obviously go as he is the England Twenty20 captain.
Joining him will be Jade Dernbach and Steven Finn. Finn has developed into one of England’s best bowlers, and Dernbach has been outstanding in an England shirt, and is the best death bowler available to England.