Cricket Twenty20: England v South Africa

Simon Hughes: 'I like the look of England's middle order'

England's middle order of Morgan, Bairstow and Buttler has an exciting look, but we won't win the World Cup

Simon Hughes: 'I like the look of England's middle order'

Joss Buttler’s spectacular innings at Edgbaston underlined one of the weaknesses of the Twenty20 format, which is that one guy can produce an unbelievable performance and there’s no way back for the opposition.

Once Buttler had smashed 31 runs in 10 balls, it was almost impossible for South Africa to win the game. It would have taken an equally spectacular innings and you normally only get one per game.

The longer formats – Test matches and 50-over cricket – are a bit more forgiving. There’s time to rebuild from a cataclysmic passage of play. It’s a bit less about the individual star performance. If we find an analogy with a fireworks display, a Twenty20 game is like a cheap £2.99 rocket going off whereas Test matches provide the more subtle pleasures of a £10 Catherine wheel.

Having said that, these individual performances in Twenty20s can be so spectacular that they stick in the crowd’s mind. Buttler’s little innings was certainly memorable and I’m pleased for him. The great thing is he’d already had six attempts and failed each time, but he was still prepared to go for his shots. He hit the second ball for six.

That showed his self-belief, but it was also a tribute to the way the England selectors have stuck by him.

Buttler’s good form and confidence gives the England middle order an attractive look going to the Twenty20 World Cup. Eoin Morgan, Buttler and Jonny Bairstow are an exciting trio of strokeplayers.

But, overall, I don’t think England have much of a chance in Sri Lanka. At the top of the order, they don’t have the firepower which other teams do. Sri Lanka have Dilshan, West Indies have Chris Gayle, India have Sehwag and South Africa have Hashim Amla, who is a genius.

Amla is in the form of his life and capable of winning games on his own. He scored 900 runs in England this summer and top-scored in all the one-day games for South Africa.

England’s Kieswetter and Hales are not quite in the same league as some of these other guys. And without Pietersen I don’t think England have enough power in the batting, especially on the spinning pitches they will encounter in Sri Lanka.