Thursday, April 30, 2009

Collingwood favourite for Twenty20 captaincy

Not good enough for the IPL, but Paul Collingwood is favourite to be Twenty20 captain.

England's selectors are having a busy time of it and two days after naming a new-look Test squad the ICC World Twenty20 party will be unveiled at Lord's on Friday with all eyes on who will take the captaincy.

The strong suggestion is that the leadership will return to Paul Collingwood less than a year after he resigned alongside Michael Vaughan and just a matter of weeks since he said he didn't want the job. Although he had some success as one-day captain - notably a series with away against Sri Lanka - he also had his fair share of problems.

During the first World Twenty20 in South Africa he miscounted Andrew Flintoff's overs during one match meaning he didn't bowl his full quota. The following summer against New Zealand was at the centre of controversy for not recalling Grant Elliott to the crease after he'd been run out after a collision with Ryan Sidebottom.

However, his mind appears to have been swayed as the selectors look for someone willing to take the job. "I am interested to lead England in a tournament on home soil," Collingwood told the Daily Telegraph last week. "It would be an exciting challenge."

He has spent the last two weeks unable to get a game for the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL while other captaincy options, particularly Dimitri Mascarenhas, have stated a strong desire to have a crack at the role.

Robert Key is another who has been mentioned and he could make the squad as England try to find themselves an opening pair that can take advantage of the fielding restrictions. Bopara, who opened during the IPL with some success, will get a run in that position but there is a need to find more boundary hitters at the top. Key, and his team-mate Joe Denly, fit that bill and Denly's fielding could edge it in his favour.

England's Twenty20 record is fairly woeful - they have lost nine of their 15 matches - and if the Test squad is anything to go by expect few interesting selections. The wicketkeeping position will again be debated and James Foster is the best one-day gloveman in domestic cricket along with being a skilled lower-order finisher.

Graham Napier, who hit 158 in the Twenty20 Cup last year and has also been at the IPL without a game, has a strong case to earn a call-up and the selectors will also show whether Samit Patel was done enough to atone for his fitness indiscretions over the winter. Andrew Flintoff, who has recently undergone knee surgery, is expected to be fit in time for the tournament.

Possible squad Paul Collingwood (capt), Ravi Bopara, Joe Denly, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, Owais Shah, James Foster, Samit Patel, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Graham Napier, Luke Wright, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson