Defending champs: England's Ryan Sidebottom hugs teammate Tim Bresnan during the 2010 World T20. Andres Leighton/AP/Press Association Images
World T20

Explainer: everything you need to know about the World T20 cricket tournament

Worried that your limited knowledge of limited-overs cricket will be exposed? Here’s everything you need to know to get you through the next three weeks.

What’s Twenty20 cricket?

Twenty20 is a limited-overs form of cricket — loved by those who don’t like sitting through five-day test matches only to see it end in a draw, despised by some of the sport’s purists.

Each team has one 20-over innings at bat, hence the name. Each match lasts for about three-and-half hours and, at the end, the team which has scored the most runs wins. Very simple.

Is that it?

Well, no. There are a handful of other rules specific to the T20 format. For example, each bowler can only bowl a maximum of one-fifth of an innings, which is usually four overs.

As well as that, there are restrictions on where players can stand when they are fielding. For the first six overs of the match, a maximum of two fielders are allowed outside a 30-yard circle marked on the pitch. These overs, known as the “powerplay”, are to encourage batsmen to be more adventurous with their shots as there is less chance of them being caught.

If the match ends in a tie (i.e. both sides score the same number of runs), a Super Over is used to decide the winner. Each team nominates three batsmen and one bowler; whoever scores the most runs from a single over at bat takes the win.

When does the tournament start?

It all kicks off on Tuesday at 3pm BST when hosts Sri Lanka face Zimbabwe in Hambantona. Sri Lanka is four-and-a-half hours ahead of Ireland at present so the group games scheduled for 3.30pm and 7.30pm local time will be at 11am and 3pm Irish time.

The final takes place in Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium on 7 October.

How does it work?

There are 12 teams, split into four groups of three, which guarantees each country a minimum of two games. The top two countries from each group progress to the Super Eight stage, where they are split into two seeded groups of four.

Each team plays three Super Eight games and, at the end of all of that, the top two teams in each of the groups progresses to the semi-finals and final. Simples.

When is Ireland’s first game?

Ireland have been drawn in Group B and begin their tournament against 2010 runners-up Australia on Wednesday at 11am. Ireland’s second game against the West Indies is next Monday, 24 September, at 3.30pm.

Are we any good?

Yes, we are actually. Ireland had to qualify for the tournament but did so in style, winning the World T20 Qualifier in the United Arab Emirates back in March.

Phil Simmons’ men come in to the tournament in good form as well having won both of their warm-up games against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

They are currently ranked 10th in the world, ahead of Zimbabwe. Group B opponents West Indies are fourth while Australia are ninth. Reigning world champions England are still ranked first.

Where can I watch it?

Sky Sports is your only man for TV coverage unfortunately. Their coverage of Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe begins at 2.30pm on Sky Sport 1. For Ireland v Australia, it’s Sky Sports 1 again at 10.30am on Wednesday morning.

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