Twenty 20 World Cup Outsiders

Niall OwensContributor IJune 2, 2009

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 26:  Ravi Bopara of England gets some runs during the third Natwest ODI between England and West Indies at Edgbaston on May 26, 2009 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

With the warm up games for the World Cup Twenty 20 already under way, the focus will turn to Friday’s curtain-raiser between the hosts England and minnows Holland. The focus will move from England’s pursuit for the Ashes for a few weeks at least.

England, who came up with the idea of the fast-paced version of cricket are lagging behind the rest of the world, but in the coming weeks they can ensure that they take huge steps towards catching up with the rest.

The inclusion of Kent captain Rob Key along with specialists from Essex in James Foster and Graham Napier make for an exciting English squad.

Also, the Dublin-born Eoin Morgan will be keen to prove he can make the grade on the international stage.

The players have now come to realise that this format of the great game is where they are going to make their money, with millions being spent on players over in India like Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood and Ravi Bopara.

Only the lesser player in the exciting Ravi Bopara made any news over in South Africa after injuries and poor form made for a poor campaign for England’s two ‘superstars.’

Ironically, England's captain for the tournament, Paul Collingwood, didn’t even play a game in South Africa but picked up a handsome pay cheque.

England has a finely balanced squad with the right mix of players the solid players such as Collingwood, Anderson and Key will do their job and do it well, and then the likes of Pietersen, Bopara and Napier will add the much needed flair or X-factor which is often needed in deciding the outcome of what will be tight and close games.

England are rated at 10/1 to win the tournament, which are long odds for a host nation of a World Cup.

I believe England will be amongst the teams when it comes to the business end of the competition.

I expect England to win all group games after gaining a favourable draw and I believe they will have enough flair and grit to make the semi-finals. From there on, it’s whoever performs on the day that will win it.

My outside bet though are the West Indies, who are as good as 12/1 with some bookmakers; they have been here now for nearly two months and have got used to the conditions.

Their outlandish captain, Chris Gayle, will be out to prove how he and his team are in what he has admitted controversially is his favoured format of cricket.

The sensible money will go on the Indians and the Aussies, but England and West Indies go into the tournament with no expectation and I believe this will work favourably for them.