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Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

India skipper Mahendra Dhoni
India start as my favourites to retain the trophy because of their tremendous depth

The indications are that the World Twenty20, staged in England, will be a tremendous success.

The combination of the best teams in the world slugging it out in the newest and most brash form of the game will be irresistible and hopefully will bury any lingering memories of the West Indies' sorry attempt to get this summer off to the start we all craved.

With the Ashes to follow, we now have the real chance to observe the manner in which cricket is likely to move forward - with T20 living happily, but not threateningly, alongside one of the most traditional and iconic contests in all sport.

England devised Twenty20 in 2003 and would probably have beaten anyone then. They thrashed Australia two years later - and let's not forget the Aussies' rather haughty attitude to T20 contributed to their defeat by Zimbabwe at the inaugural ICC event two years ago.

But things have changed, and while England appear to be bogged down with theory, they have been rapidly overtaken by less inhibited countries such as India, South Africa Australia and Sri Lanka.

All those teams have batsmen who can tear attacks apart, and it is the big-hitting players who make the difference between winning and losing a T20 match.

That's why Andrew Flintoff's absence is such a huge blow to England.

His bowling is vital too, for those toe-crunching yorkers delivered at high pace, but just a few lusty blows out of the park can turn a game on its head - and now Andrew Symonds has been sent packing for yet another alcohol-related offence, you have to say that Australia's hopes have been similarly dented.

With T20 bringing everyone onto one level - something that the most talented cricketers really resent, incidentally - every team has a chance.

606: DEBATE

I do not expect Holland, Ireland or Scotland to win the competition, but every major team they face will be seriously worried, and there is more than a remote likelihood of an upset or two.

Over five days, the best team invariably overcomes the opposition. Over just 40 overs, it is anybody's game.

India start as my favourites to retain the trophy because of their tremendous depth, with hitters like Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dhoni and Pathan. They are also the best fielding team I have seen from the sub-continent.

South Africa and Australia will also be in the shake-up but all it takes is for Gayle, McCullum, Jayasuriya, Afridi, Ashraful or Pietersen to get going, and every team is in contention.

For the first time, the women play a tournament very much in sync with the men, and the two finals coincide on the same day at Lord's.

It's fair to say that England's women have better prospects than their male counterparts - in fact they start as favourites - with Australia and New Zealand posing the major threat to Charlotte Edwards' hopes of lifting her second major trophy of the year.



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see also
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Superb Netherlands shock England
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Superb India overwhelm Pakistan
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World Twenty20 warm-up photos
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Twenty20 takes centre stage
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World Twenty20 teams guide
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England deny Scots in warm-up win
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World Twenty20 ones to watch
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ICC World Twenty20 2009
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ICC World Twenty20 2009 squads
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Live cricket on the BBC
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