Cricket World Cup: For England, If Not now, Then When?
May 29, 2019
In England’s dressing room at Adelaide Oval, Eoin Morgan, skipper watched as Bangladesh upstaged his led team out of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. In the lead up to the tournament, England hadn’t won a series in that year. Their batsmen were playing a style of cricket that seemed stale, and the ‘thought’ of elimination hovered in the mind.
During the Cricket World Cup, the England team had a shocker, losing four of their five pool matches, winning only against the underdogs of the tournament – Scotland. And in the must-win game against Bangladesh, they were all over the place. Chasing 276 against the ninth-ranked side, the chase looked easy and within the range. However, what followed was the tale of their last year stint.
After the horrific defeat, the players were shattered and slumped in a quiet place. At that stage, it looked that the team will find it difficult to recover, but from 2015-2019, the paradigm shift which the team has been able to make defines the ‘New England Era’.
Going by the statistics, England have played 85 encounters after the 2015 World Cup exit and have scored 300 + runs 38 times with a boundary percentage of 52.1 and strike-rate of over 100. The win-loss ratio post-2015 as compared to 2011-2015 periods is 2.37, which is a superlative record for a team to have.
By tinkering with their tactics and using an aggressive approach, the England team has won most of their recent bilateral series. Having been able to dominate in their home conditions, the pressure of the team as they enter the World Cup cannot be underestimated. The 15-men will enter the World Cup with the approach they have been able to use over past two-three years – ‘Higher the risk, better the results’.
Going by the history of the tournament, England have never won the cricket 50-over World Cup but seeing their past two-three year performance, if they don’t win this time around, they may never get a chance win the World Cup.
For the first time in the competition’s 44-year history, the group stages will be a 10-team round-robin format with each country playing the other nine and the top four progressing to the semi-finals.
In fact, England has been building upon its resources for an assault on the World Cup for the last couple of years under Morgan and coach, Trevor Bayliss. The powerful batting lineup, the aggressive bowling and outstanding fielding are all a part of a well laid out plan. England starts its campaign in World Cup 2019 on 30 May with a match against South Africa at The Oval.
Interesting, to build this case a little stronger, by the statistics, England are the only team with four batsman – Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan – in the top 20 ICC rankings and it will be their heavy scoring power that could propel them to victory.
The players mentioned, along with Jason Roy, Moeen Ali, and Ben Stokes are in brilliant form, and others who are capable of hitting the ball far back into the stands which eventually helps them with 320-350 + total regularly.
Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler are two batsmen who made merry in the recently concluded IPL season. The former, in particular, was severe on the bowlers in the ‘power play’ in the ten matches that he played for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and has carried that form into the English season. Buttler, of course, has been batting like a champion ever since the IPL season of 2018. Roy too is as dangerous as they come and can hit the new ball a fair distance. Morgan and Root have the capability of holding the innings together while scoring at a good clip.
English wickets are expected to be flat and dry this summer, as is visible in the ODI series against Pakistan and therefore, large-hearted pacers like Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood and Stokes will fetch England value-for-money this Cricket World Cup.
Going by the last International series, the spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid will be more effective in these conditions and restrict the opposition to fire in the middle overs.
The England team has taken its fielding standards to new echelon in recent years — its support staff has made certain that the team comes off the field has put in more than a hundred per cent effort in saving runs, effecting run outs and converting half chances into catches. Man for man, England could be the best fielding side, this World Cup.
Going by their own set standards, England should at least win seven out of nine league games, unless weather plays a spoilsport. The teams such as India and Australia are expected to give the Englishmen a tough fight and if they can jump that hurdle, the thought will surely become reality.
Having reached finals thrice in 1979, 1987, and 1992 – the real test of the team will come in the knockouts where their character will be tested as to how well they play under pressure. Teams like India, Australia, and Pakistan have been in that situation more than once and could definitely give the side a few hiccups.
But as mentioned before, this is a highly talented team with all bases covered and they should well turn things in their favor.
In the end, 11 World Cups have come and gone. England’s mantelpiece is still empty; perhaps Eoin Morgan’s England team will get it right this time around and as the saying goes, “If not now, then when?” – is the question for this team.
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Author: Vedant Sharma
A graduate in Economics Honours. Grew up watching the best years of cricket in the 2000s and developed a habit of reading with time which eventually helped me to express my thoughts through writing. Apart from cricket, I like to spend time with my loved ones