The cricket T20 World Cup – aka Twenty20, or T20i if we're splitting hairs – is underway, or at least its opening, qualifying stage is. Soon, the world’s top quick-hitting, death-bowling nations will be battling it out for this year’s title. Whether you’re a seasoned T20i vet or you want to get involved in this year's tournament for the first time, we have all the essential information you need to bluff it like a boss.
We also have a handy guide to how to watch the T20 World Cup on a live stream from anywhere, including some free options.
What is T20 cricket?
T20 – or Twenty20 to give it its full title – is a short form of cricket where each side bowls 20 overs apiece. No bowler can bowl more than four overs. The first six overs are described as the 'Powerplay' because the bowling team has to have all but two of its fielders within 30 metres of the wicket, giving the batters more opportunity to hit over the top. After the Powerplay, up to five fielders can move back towards the boundary.
However, in a new twist, this World Cup will be the first where failing to get through your overs fast enough will incur a further fielding disadvantage. If the final over doesn't start by its allotted time, the unfortunate bowler will only be allowed four fielders outside the 30-metre ring, instead of five. Exciting stuff!
T20 practically always favours the batters over the bowlers and that's unlikely to change on Australia's fast but flat pitches. You can expect a feast of six-hitting and first innings scores of 200+ could be the norm. We saw in the recent Asia Cup tournament that aiming for 170-180 or so just doesn't cut it as a winning total any longer, against top-class opposition.
Oh and in case you were wondering, T20i simply means a T20 international. As on a car's badge, the 'i' signifies that it's a more high-powered, high-class affair than, say, Gloucestershire vs Durham.
When does the T20 World Cup start?
This year’s World Cup is taking place in Australia between Sunday 16 October and 13 November 2022. The initial games are a qualifying round, with the 'proper' World Cup – aka the Super 12 – starting on October 22, when Australia take on New Zealand and England face a potentially worrisome clash with fiery Afghanistan.
The really big games in terms of super-fan interest are India vs Pakistan on October 23 and England vs Australia on October 28.
What teams are qualified for the T20 World Cup?
The following 16 teams have made it to the T20 World Cup. However, nothing is ever simple in cricket, and half of those teams had to take part in a pre-Super 12 qualifying round. The winner and runner up in two qualifying groups now join the big boys in the exciting sounding ‘Super 12’.
Sri Lanka (Qualifying Group A Winner)
Ireland (Qualifying Group B Runner-up)
Zimbabwe (Qualifying Group B Winner)
The Netherlands (Qualifying Group A Runner-up)
No T20 tournament is easy and this World Cup gives us a real 'group of death' in the form of Group A. Three extremely strong sides – Australia, England and New Zealand – also face Sri Lanka. They had to qualify here due to a bad couple of years, but they just won the Asia Cup with an excellent young side, beating India and Pakistan along the way. Ireland won‘t qualify but they’re more than capable of at least one upset.
Group B, which features India and Pakistan – cricket's bitterest rivals this side of Alex Hales and Ben Stokes – will be no walk in the park either. They're joined by South Africa, who are also extremely strong, especially in the bowling department, on fast pitches, as well as Holland and Zimbabwe. Okay, neither of them is likely to win a game, based on what I’ve seen of them in the qualifiers, but anything is possible in T20i.
The six teams in each group all play each other once, and only the top two advance to the semi-finals. So this is going to get pretty brutal, pretty fast.
United Arab Emirates
Who won the last T20 World Cup?
Australia won the T20 World Cup in 2021, beating New Zealand in the final by eight wickets.
Who will win the 2022 T20 World Cup?
The big question! As the hosts and reigning champions, it’s not too surprising that the bookies have Australia as the favourites. That said, the margins are always fine in T20. This is a format where any half decent team can string together a few wins and find themselves going home with the trophy. For proof of that, just look at last year’s tournament where Australia came in fairly unfancied, were absolutely destroyed by England in their group stage came, yet came back well to knock over several teams who looked stronger on paper.
Australia are less outright leaders and perhaps more leaders of the peloton, with the rest of the pack including the likes of England, India, South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand, West Indies and Sri Lanka. All of those teams have reasons to be optimistic and danger men who can take any game by the scruff of the neck.
England just won series against both Pakistan and Australia, so could be said to be the form side going into the tournament, yet they looked pretty dire at home in the English summer, which was just a few months ago
So making predictions about the eventual winner of this tournament is something of a fool's errand. Nonetheless, here’s a short, team-by-team rundown of the leading nations, at least one of whom is likely to contest the final.
Despite getting their asses handed to them by England, Australia are the bookies’ favourites at the moment. They’re the defending champions, at home, and their T20i squad is packed with quality players from top to bottom. They have explosive batsmen right the way through the top six, from David Warner and Mitch Marsh to Matthew Wade, the latter of whom is in the form of his life right now. Add one of the best bowling attacks in the world and beating Australia on their own pitches will be a tall order for anyone. Although, as noted, England just made it look like a walk in the park.
After a slightly disappointing Asia Cup, India are looking in ominous form. They’ve beaten Australia and South Africa in T20 series’ since then, and they probably have the scariest batting line-up of any team at the tournament, including the best T20 batsman on the planet in Suryakumar Yadav. Losing star bowler Jasprit Bumrah to injury is a huge blow though, as his skillset and leadership are irreplaceable.
Reports of England’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, it seems. The loss of World Cup winners like Eoin Morgan (retired), Jonny Bairstow (injured) and Jason Roy (form gone down the dumper) might have rocked a different side, but England have astonishing strength in depth. In Jos Buttler they have another of the most terrifying T20 batters in the world.
The bowling attack is a bit of a strange one. If we were talking about test cricket, the likes of David Willey (looks like anguished caveman), Reece Topley (mulleted giant), Sam Curran (tiny boy), Adil Rashid (shoulder made of eggshells) and Mark Wood (could get injured opening a tin of beans) might seem a bit lacking. However in T20i, this mix of left and right armers, able to vary their pace and length intelligently to frustrate opposing batters, is proving surprisingly effective. With the speedy Wood seemingly firing on all cylinders and one bowler of real class in the form of Chris Woakes, England have an attack that is considerably greater than the sum of its parts.
Big hitting South Africa are quietly lining up a tournament run as dark horses. The form of captain Temba Bavuma has been a worry, but look past him and they have fantastic young players - Quinton de Kock, Rilee Rossouw, Aiden Markram, David Miller and Tristan Stubbs are all potential match-winners with the bat, and the pace attack is spicy as well. Strapping 22-year-old all-rounder Marco Jansen is an ultra-talent, and could have a huge tournament if he plays.
Pakistan emerged at the last tournament as the team no-one wanted to face, and opening pair Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan have blossomed into the best opening T20 pair in the game since then. The worrying thing for Pakistan is that the middle order have not been firing at all – they’ll need the likes of Khushdil Shah, Shan Masood and big hitting Asif Ali to break out if they’re going to go far in this tournament. Having star quick Shaheen Shah Afridi back will be a huge boost though, although rushing any fast bowler back into the side is always a risk.
Runners-up at the last T20 World Cup, this New Zealand side feels as though it might be reaching the end of a generation. Kane Williamson returns from injury to lead the side but he hasn’t been at his sparkling best for a little while, and the Kiwis will be relying on the likes of Devon Conway, Martin Guptill and Jimmy Neesham to really turn up the heat this tournament. There’s still bags of quality in the side, though, so write off the Black Caps at your peril.
If you’re looking beyond the six favourites for an outside bet, Sri Lanka are certainly worth a look. They’ll have to come through the qualifiers tournament, but barring a major surprise, they’ll head into group with England, New Zealand, Australia and Afghanistan, and after beating India and Pakistan to win the Asia Cup, they’ll be another side that nobody will relish playing.
UPDATE! Sri Lanka started their campaign by losing heavily to, wait for it… Namibia. Now, that might sound bad, but consider this. They started the Asia Cup by being absolutely shellacked by Afghanistan, but they ended up winning that. They eventually qualified quite easily for the Super 12.