Unknowns a danger in England T20 squad

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2013
Alex Hales
Getty Images
THREAT: Alex Hales of England.

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The names hardly leap off the page, but spectators are best advised to keep their heads up when England batsmen Alex Hales or Jos Buttler walk to the crease this month.

Either one could single-handedly destroy New Zealand, and endanger the safety of unsuspecting punters in the stands, in the Twenty20 series in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington, says former New Zealand paceman Andre Adams.

"Hales is the biggest hitter but the most destructive guy would be Buttler. He's a guy who can swat it to all parts," said Nottinghamshire stalwart Adams, who's bowled to Buttler in county cricket, and to team-mate Hales in the nets at Trent Bridge.

Hales showed Australian audiences he could play a bit when he crashed eight sixes on the Sydney Cricket Ground on his Big Bash debut, 89 off 52 balls in January.

As in most international T20 lineups, the 14 names in the advance party are more "who's that" than a "who's who" of English cricket. James Anderson, Alistair Cook, Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott don't arrive until the ODIs; and the walking headline Kevin Pietersen is resting for the white ball formats but arriving for the first test in Dunedin on March 6.

That leaves us with pacemen Stuart Broad and Steven Finn as the best-known in the T20 side, with Eoin Morgan the batting anchor at No 4.

There's also two former Firebirds, all-rounders Chris Woakes and Luke Wright, the latter who'll probably bat in the top-three and chime in with his medium pace. Wright's star has dimmed slightly and he's not in the ODI squad.

Adams, now on Auckland's coaching staff, sees plenty of class in the England lineup. There's hitting power from Hales, another Notts player Michael Lumb, Buttler and Morgan, who finished off New Zealand last year at the T20 World Cup.

"The most likely guys to take the game away from you are Buttler and Morgan as a partnership. Morgan's done it a few times and he does it under pressure and stays pretty calm," Adams said.

"They do have that ability to chase targets. They've got that Brendon McCullum-type player batting at six and seven and that's what New Zealand don't have."

The bowling features sharp pace via captain Broad, Finn and Jade Dernbach, and spin options with all-rounder Samit Patel and Danny Briggs.

"They've got fast bowlers, 140kmh and above, then they've got decent left-arm spin with Samit Patel who's been here on an England A tour. He's done pretty well recently, he plays for Notts and he's a very good T20 bowler."

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So it seems England have all bases covered, and are ranked fourth in the world to New Zealand's eighth.

But Adams, with his impartial hat on, is tipping New Zealand to win the three-match T20 series, and repeat the dose in the ODIs.

"England can be slow starters and I think we'll probably beat them in the ODIs and the T20. I'd say 2-1 in both of those and we'll lose 3-0 in the tests.

"England just don't have a set team.

"The mess about with their limited overs stuff for whatever reason, whether it's because they pick form guys out of tournaments, I don't know. Lumby played in the World T20 winning team [in 2010] then he didn't play for a while and fell out of favour. They do that kind of thing, they mess about."

- The Dominion Post

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