Stanford Twenty20 for 20 Betting: Meet the key players who will decide which way the cash is going...
We all know about the obscenely good strike rate of Kevin Pietersen in Twenty20 cricket and the power-hitting of Chris Gayle but these two may not be the match-winners on the day, says Edward Hammond-Kenny.
With the Stanford 20/20 for 20 now just one day away, the most lucrative match in the history of sport will be creating equal levels of both excitement and anxiety for those players involved. Who will stand up and be counted? Who will crack under the pressure? Well ultimately only time will tell but I'm going to pick out a handful of players from both sides who have the potential to be the stars on Saturday.
Let's start with the England team and the ubiquitous Kevin Pietersen. In the shorter forms of the game KP is a true innovator, exemplified best by his famous 'switch hit'. His average of 28 in T20s is similar to most of the specialist England batsman but his strike rate of 149 (149 runs per 100 balls) is significantly superior. He gets bowlers out of their comfort zone by moving outside off stump to work good balls through the leg side. His current form is good too with a typically aggressive 44 off 30 balls against Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, the top score in the match. KP will be around [4.0] for Top England Batsman but there may be better options out there.
Ian Bell should be a good bet on the To Score 25 market as he will open and look to bat deep into the innings, but Owais Shah could be one of those to benefit from the license granted by Bell's presence. Many believe Shah is unfortunate to have only played two tests for England, but he has successfully cemented himself in the T20 team and no one in the current squad averages more than his 29.4 at a very healthy strike rate of 135. Shah is a proven winner in this format too, with a devastating match winning 75 off 35 balls for Middlesex against Kent in the Twenty20 Cup final. He makes a strong case for Top England Batsman status if you can get on at [5.0] or higher.
At the death of the innings the ball will be thrown to Andrew Flintoff and with good reason. Freddie's potency with the bat is not what it was but his bowling remains stellar, you know he will be quick, hostile and accurate with a deadly yorker to boot. No seam bowler on either side can match his T20 economy rate (runs conceded per over) of just 6.44.
For the Stanford Superstars the imposing figure of Chris Gayle looms large at the top of the order. The Jamaican averages 38.6 in T20s, the highest on either team. He is the only player with a century in this format at the highest level, a stunning 117 off 57 balls including 10 sixes against the South Africans in the opening match of the ICC World Twenty20 - emphatic proof of his big game credentials. On the flip side the pitch in Antigua isn't ideal for his high powered brand of stand and deliver shot making.
On the other hand the pitch should be more suited to Shivnarine Chanderpaul's more nuggety style of batting. His strange looking stance belies an excellent technique, playing the ball late he is adept at picking the gaps and rotating the strike. No batsman in world cricket protects their wicket more resolutely. An average of 26.6 compares favourably with all bar Gayle. In a recent ODI against Sri Lanka, Chanderpaul hit a match winning six off the last ball to seal an incredible victory, so he can deliver under pressure.
If you like some bang for your buck then back Gayle to be Top Superstars Batsman. He will be short (probably a shade over 4.0) because if he hangs around he will quickly be out of sight of his colleagues. The more phlegmatic should take Chanderpaul at [5.0] or more and cheer him on as he nurdles another ball into space.
Finally onto the Superstars bowling. Dave Mohammed tends to take bunches of wickets with his quirky left arm spin, but Daren Powell will be the main quick and generally he exerts excellent control. His economy rate in T20s is average at 7.7 but he will consistently put the ball in dangerous areas and will pressure batsman into errors of judgment.
Let's hope the game lives up to the hype!