So who are we up against in the crowd-magnet T20 matches? We should win, but T20 is as close to a cricketing lottery as you can get, so who knows. The Sideline Slogger is a little concerned. Anyway, let's sound informed even if we're losing: here's a likely English T20 lineup and what you need to know if any of these blokes get within earshot...and remember the Borat-inspired beige mankini (aka Lycra suit) is not yet banned from Eden Park.
1 Alastair Cook: A left-handed former choirboy and cricket nerd of the highest order, Cook this week went berserk about his batting prowess after he hit two sixes off New Zealand domestic bowlers at the postage stamp that is the Village Green. That is a little bit sad. Usually referred to as the team's handbrake, he has Andrew Strauss breathing down his neck.
2 Phil Mustard (wk): Nicknamed Colonel after this chap, he has been ridiculously compared to Adam Gilchrist by his captain: "He's a great timer of the ball and hits it very hard." No pressure. Meanwhile his county director of cricket says of him: "...he may have a dozy air and sometimes he's prepared to play the village idiot but he's driven." I suspect he may get on quite well with our own Skippy Sinclair.
3 Kevin Pietersen: The Raccoon brilliantly called Proteas captain Graeme Smith "an absolute muppet". Double points for that. A cracking player, worth the price of admission alone. A likely killer of Tim Southee's confidence this week.
4 Ian Bell: The Shermanator. Despite the dyed hair, this man cannot fool us - he is a ginger, albeit one in denial. Scarier in Test cricket than limited overs and lucky to have three letters after his name after 170 runs in 10 bats in the Ashes.
5 Paul Collingwood (c): Another griff, PC is most famous for getting an MBE when England won the Ashes, despite only scoring 17 runs in his two innings in the series. Shane Warne was supportive: "You got an MBE, right? For scoring seven at the Oval? It’s an embarrassment.” More recently Colly was also Murali's record 709th Test wicket scalp, perhaps getting out deliberately to get one back on the Australian bogan.
6 Owais Shah: Pakistan-born, Shah is a notoriously dreadful fieldsman. Was thought to have peaked when he was captain of the England U-19 side but the 29-year old did some good things in the Poms' series win in Sri Lanka. Used as a McCullum (before we sent him up to open) smashing the ball square of the wicket on both sides.
7 Luke Wright: The Shane Watson of the England team: hair-obsessed, top order floater/slogger and rubbish bowler. Wright is still dining out on a debut half-century against India last year at The Oval. Let's hope he is not another useful cricketer that we make look quite brilliant.
8 Dimitri Mascarenhas: The best name in cricket gives rise to some cracking anagrams including "Hermit Raids Maniacs" and "Administer Charisma". English born and Australian-raised but with Sri Lankan heritage, he once captained Western Australian age group sides. Clubbed 30 off a Yuvraj Singh over in an ODI last year, which Yuvraj avenged with interest via Stuart Broad at the T20 World Cup. Mascarenhas' number one fan: not his Mum, but his county captain, S K Warne.
9 Graeme Swann: A cocky English offspinner. Not for long. Nowhere near as intriguing as Monty.
10 Ryan Sidebottom: The third English ginger, and the only one not in denial via hats or hair dye. A BYC podcast favourite, Rodney Frontbottom should be a Nicky Watson-sized handful in New Zealand conditions. Is he really the lovechild of Eric Idle and Weird Al Yankovic?
11 James Anderson: James Franklin in disguise, except that he bowls right-handed and is married to an English model. Injury prone and now that he has abandoned the smorgasbord of haircuts and so on from his wild years, pretty hard to dislike. That said, he should lose the zinc - he is no Chris Pringle.
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